The habitual consumption of the skin and fruit of the xoconostle can be useful in the control of serum glucose in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. In healthy people xoconostle can help prevent hyperglycaemic states and potentially reduce the concentration of cholesterol and triglycerides which may be related to metabolic syndrome.(Pimienta-Barros etal)
Xoconostle pears (Opuntia matudae) have attracted the attention of researchers around the world due to this particular fruits strong anticancer, antidiabetic, and antioxidant characteristics. The fruit also has a significant inhibitory effect on E. coli and 10% (v/v) concentration of xoconostle extract is required to achieve complete growth inhibition. The antimicrobial activity can be accounted for by several active compounds including phenolics, ascorbic acid, and betalains. Xoconostle pears have a combination of phenolic compounds including gallic, vanillic, 4-hydroxybenzoic acids, catechin, epicatechin, and vanillin. Even though the exact antimicrobial mechanism of phenolic compounds is not clear, phenolic compounds are commonly known for their antimicrobial effects. Betalains have metal chelating activities in which they can chelate the cell’s indispensable inner cations Ca2+, Fe2+, and Mg2+. These characteristics of betalains have received increased attention suggesting antiviral and antimicrobial activities.(Guzman-Maldonado etal)
The medicinal activities of this fruit have been listed as anti-hypoglycaemic, anti-hyperlipidaemic, hypocholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, antidiuretic, anti-ulcerogenic and immunostimulating. (Fuegang etal)
In Mexican folk medicine an infusion of the fruits is used for coughs, migraine and headaches.
Medicinal use is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Due to the potential blood sugar lowering action caution must be taken if you are diabetic. I have also found warnings against using xoconostle if suffering from prostate cancer or urinary tract infections but was given no reasoning as to why. I find this somewhat unusual as others in the Opuntia species have been trialled and found effective at reducing the viability of prostate and colon cancer cells (in-vitro) due to their high flavonoid content (Chavez-Santoscoy etal). This was particularly relevant to the darker red/purple varieties of fruits. Further research is being made.