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Cactus extract may help manage weight, water loss

By Stephen Daniells , 17-Mar-2010

Supplements of a cactus extract may reduce weight gain while acting as a diuretic, according to data from studies with rats and humans.

In the rat study, published in Phytotherapy Research, French researchers report that BioSerae’s Cacti-Nea branded ingredient reduced weight gain in animals by almost 20 per cent, compared to control animals.

Researchers from ETAP (Ethologie Appliquée, Centre de Recherche en Pharmacologie) and BioSerae report that extracts from cactus (Opuntia ficus indica L.) did not deplete the body’s minerals and also exerted an antioxidant effect.

“Our results clearly demonstrate the diuretic and antioxidant effects of chronic oral administration of Cacti-Nea in Wistar rats with respect to the urinary excretion of sodium, potassium and uric acid dosed in our experimental conditions,” wrote the researchers, led by Jean-Francois Bisson.

“This also confi rms that the specific process developed for obtaining the dehydrated extract Cacti-Nea preserves the nutritional and functional properties of Opuntia fi cus indica fruit.”

The ingredient is intended for use as antioxidant and in the burgeoning weight management category, already valued at $3.64bn (2009 figures) in the US, according to Euromonitor. In Western Europe, the market was worth $1.3bn in 2009.

With the World Health Organization estimating that by 2015, there will be more than 1.5 billion overweight consumers, incurring health costs beyond $117 billion per year in the US alone, the opportunities for a scientifically-substantiated weight management food product are impressive.

According to the data in Phytotherapy Research, rats were divided into three groups: One group was the cactus extract at a dose of 240 mg/kg/day for seven days, while another group was given the pharmaceutical diuretic hydrochlorothiazide at a dose of 10 mg/kg/day, and the third group received no additional doses and acted as a control group.

Significant increases in urine volumes were noted in the cactus and hydrochlorothiazide groups, compared to control, with diuretic effects similar between the cactus extract-fed animals and hydrochlorothiazide-treated animals.

Bisson and his co-workers also noted no significant differences in the mineral content of urine, compared with the control group.

“The prickly pear fruit extract Cacti-Nea demonstrated chronic diuretic and antioxidant effects in Wistar rats with respect to the excretion of the metabolites,” they stated.

From rats to people

According to the company, a recent human clinical trial with 49 women with normal BMI. The women were randomly assigned to receive either a daily 2 gram dose of the cactus extract or placebo for 28 days.

Results of the randomised, double-blind trial reportedly show that, while women in a the placebo group experienced fat mass increases up to three kilograms, no such changes were observed in the cactus extract group. Furthermore, significant weight loss occurred in the cactus group, but not in the placebo group. has not seen the full data.

The company also claims that enhanced benefits were observed for a sub-group of women whose body fat mass increased before the beginning of the study.

Source: Phytotherapy Research
Published online ahead of print, Early View, doi: 10.1002/ptr.2996
“Diuretic and antioxidant effects of Cacti-Nea, a dehydrated water extract from prickly pear fruit, in rats”
Authors: J-F. Bisson, S. Daubié, S. Hidalgo, D. Guillemet, E. Linarés

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