We’ve always wanted to add another plant or two to our herb garden, and some weeks ago we found just the ideal plant in my brother’s work shed . . . it was the Tuna plant. We planted a few leaves of this Tuna plant in our hillside, and some inside the herb garden; it should grow well there. The Tuna plant (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a species of cactus that is found all over the world; it is also called spineless cactus, and prickly pear.
I read that the fruits – which are edible and sweet, are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and other antioxidants. They are known to help reduce mucus production and bleeding, and are used for gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, diarrhea, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
It will be awhile before our plants begin blooming and producing fruits.
One month after planting our tunas, I can only say that they are green and alive. The only new growths are those which I saw today appearing on the tuna leaves we cut off in the shed.
I understand that the leaves of the Tuna plant are used for relieving constipation, reducing fevers, and combating menstrual problems. The Tuna (like the Aloe vera) is also applied to minor cuts, injuries, and burns to stimulate healing and reduce pain.
The fresh sap from the tuna leaves is also used as a natural cleaning shampoo to strengthen hair roots, and to eliminate dandruff, itching, and other scalp problems.
The Tuna plant is also good for relieving back pains, and it is known to be used by men who have enlarged prostate gland conditions.
The Tuna plant is used as a tea, but in Jamaica, they prepare the Tuna plant by first removing the skin and thin quills. They then cut up the slimy flesh and soak it overnight (or half-a-day) in tap water or in coconut water. Afterward, it is drunken. ** Please note that this preparation can be repeated and had for up to five days.
The Tuna tea and drink are said to be effective for cleansing the intestines, removing mucus, and binding fat.
The Tuna plant is known to possess binding properties, and when it is consumed, the tuna molecules bind themselves to the fat molecules that a person has eaten, and prevents the body from absorbing the fat; then it gets excreted naturally. This is ideal for those persons who desire to lose weight.
Warning: The Tuna plant should be taken moderately as it is a mild laxative, and it is known to lower blood glucose levels. And although it is a medicinal plant used for hundreds of years, pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid using it.