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  Substance Info: (and synonyms)
Prickly pear cactus / Opuntia

Background Info:

Family: Cactaceae.

Opuntia tuna - tuna.
Opuntia ficus-indica - Indian/ barbary fig.

Plants are characterised by flat-jointed stems covered with glochids (small clusters of stiff hairs) and usually spines. Flowers, commonly yellow, develop into warty, pear-shaped edible fruits. The above-mentioned species originated in subtropical and tropical areas of the Americas, and have been naturalised in tropical regions throughout the world. In some countries, particularly Australia, prickly pears have become pests.

 

Adverse Reactions:

IMMUNE REACTIONS


[ 1 / 6 ]

A 33-year-old woman reported an acute episode of oral, pharyngeal, and cutaneous pruritus, facial swelling, conjunctivitis, dysphonia, difficulty swallowing, dyspnea, wheezes, general malaise, and hypotension a few minutes after ingestion of half (22.5 g) a slimming bar containing Opuntia ficus indica (NeOpuntia). SPT with lyophilized NeOpuntia provided by the manufacturer was positive. The fruit produced no adverse effect or skin reaction, the extract is derived from the leaves. (Cabanillas 2010 ref.24999 7)

Reference:
Cabanillas MB, Crespo JF, Burbano C, Rodriguez J. Systemic IgE-mediated reaction to a dietary slimming bar. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2010 May;104(5):450



[ 2 / 6 ]

A 30-year-old woman experienced a generalized reaction with facial and labial angioedema, erythema and micropapular eruption in trunk and wrists, nausea and dyspnoea 5 min after eating two cactus fruits. She had been previously diagnosed with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma and oral allergy syndrome with several fruits and vegetables (melon, watermelon, banana, orange and tomatoes). Total serum IgE was elevated (1058 IU/ml) and specific IgE against latex was positive (7.28 kU/l). Specific IgE against chitinase mix (Cas s 5 + Prs a 1), apple profilin (Mald d 4) and peach LTP (Pru p 3) were 0.12, 16.2 and 0.25 kU/l, respectively. Several protein bands were detected, one of them with a low molecular weigh of about 15 kDa and the rest of them with molecular weighs between 37 and 100 kDa. (Garcia-Menaya 2009 ref.24083 5)

Reference:
Garcia-Menaya JM, Cordobes-Duran C, Bobadilla P, Ledesma A, Perez-Rangel I. Hypersensitivity systemic reaction to cactus fruit (Opuntia ficus-indica). Allergy 2009 Nov;64(11):1689-1690



[ 3 / 6 ]

A few cases have been published reporting dermatitis with cactus fruit (Yoon 2004 ref.20571 3) (Goodheart 2001 ref.9071 7), occupational contact urticaria and rhinoconjunctivitis with the related species Christmas and Easter cacti (Paulsen 1997 ref.3859 0) (Orjales 2009 ref.24274 7) and only one case of food allergy to red pitaya (fruit derived of a particular specie of cactus) (Damiani 2008 ref.22404 8). (In: Garcia-Menaya 2009 ref.24083 4)

Reference:
Garcia-Menaya JM, Cordobes-Duran C, Bobadilla P, Ledesma A, Perez-Rangel I. Hypersensitivity systemic reaction to cactus fruit (Opuntia ficus-indica). Allergy 2009 Nov;64(11):1689-1690



[ 4 / 6 ]

Allergic contact dermatitis with prickly pear fruit in a 43-year-old woman who had applied a sliced fruit of 0 ficus-indica to her skin as a folk remedy. Patch testing performed with the fruit showed a strong positive reaction in the patient. (Yoon 2004 ref.20571 7)

Reference:
Yoon HJ, Won CH, Moon SE. Allergic contact dermatitis due to Opuntia ficus-indica var. saboten. Contact Dermatitis 2004 Nov-Dec;51(5-6):311-2.



[ 5 / 6 ]

Rhinitis, "osmylogenic" asthma. (Vargas 1989 ref.1154 6)

Reference:
Vargas VH, Orea Solano M, Sanchez MA, Valencia MP. Rhinitis and osmylogenic asthma caused by prickly pear. Presentation of a clinical case. [Spanish] Rev Alerg Mex 1989;36(2):69-71



[ 6 / 6 ]

Sabra dermatitis. (Shanon 1965 ref.1156 4)

Reference:
Shanon Y, Sagher F. Sabra dermatitis. Occupational dermatitis caused by contact with the prickly pear which resembles scurf [Italian] Dermatol Int 1965;4(2):125-7




Non-Immune reactions


[ 1 ]

A retrospective review of hospital records of children 59 children with discharge diagnosis of fecal impaction was conducted from 1996 to 2005 in a university-affiliated general hospital in Israel. 53 had rectal seed bezoars: watermelon seeds in 43 children, prickly pear seeds in 6, sunflower seeds in 3, and pumpkinseeds in 1. All the children with seed bezoars were of Arab origin. (Eitan 2007 ref.22314 7)

Reference:
Eitan A, Katz IM, Sweed Y, Bickel A. Fecal impaction in children: report of 53 cases of rectal seed bezoars. J Pediatr Surg 2007 Jun;42(6):1114-7.



[ 2 ]

A retrospective review of the medical records of Israeli patients hospitalized with the diagnosis of fecal impaction during a ten-year period. 55 patients were hospitalized with the diagnosis of fecal impaction. Phytobezoars were found in 30 patients (55%). The seed bezoars were composed of prickly pear seeds in 12 patients, watermelon seeds in 10 patients, sunflower seeds in 4 patients, popcorn kernels in 1 patient, and pomegranate seeds in 1 patient. The Jew:Arab ratio for seed bezoars was 7:23. Seventy-three patients had seedless fecal masses with a Jew:Arab ratio of 58:15. (Eitan 2006 ref.22316 2)

Reference:
Eitan A, Bickel A, Katz IM. Fecal impaction in adults: report of 30 cases of seed bezoars in the rectum. Dis Colon Rectum 2006 Nov;49(11):1768-71.



[ 3 ]

Low colonic obstruction due to Opuntia ficus indica seeds: the aftermath of enjoying delicious cactus fruits. (Kleiner 2002 ref.27684 3)

Reference:
Kleiner O, Cohen Z, Mares AJ. Low colonic obstruction due to Opuntia ficus indica seeds: the aftermath of enjoying delicious cactus fruits. Acta Paediatr 2002;91(5):606-7.



[ 4 ]

Anti-hyperglycemic effect (Roman-Ramos 1995 ref.6804 2)

Most common problem is from contact with the barbed bristles, which results in an intense pruritis, involving the area of contact, by implantation of the glochids. Has been documented to have caused keratoconjunctivitis and dermatitis. (Whiting 1975 ref.1155 6)

Reference:
Roman-Ramos R, Flores-Saenz JL, Alarcon-Aguilar FJ. Anti-hyperglycemic effect of some edible plants. J Ethnopharmacol 1995;48(1):25-32




OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE


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Allergy Advisor - Zing Solutions
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