So often cactus get a bad rap. No, I'm not talking "Vanilla Ice" bad rap. I am talking that they are useless, ugly, and they will hurt you if you get too close...like a Gila Monster. Oh the TREASURES Heavenly Father has given us in one of these compact little green cherubs.
Prickly Pear Cactus
I love going to classes and learning how the natural plants around us have helped local natives WAY before the covered wagons appeared. One class I went to taught about the prickey pear cactus. They are good for food, sunburns, as a poultice for bites and stings...are you ready for this (?) EVEN RATTLESNAKE BITES!
The red fruit on top is always safe to eat (raw or cooked) when they are ripe. They are thirst quenching and cooling (pretty smart for a desert plant huh?). If you eat too many, be ready for a bit of constipation.
Open the cactus the same way (like a hamburger bun) so it exposes the fleshy inside. Use it the same way you would use aloe vera - that slimy goodness feels soooOOOo good.
Poultice for Bites etc. :
A poultice is something you wrap around a wound or bite. This is really where the gift of this little cherub comes into play. In the case of any venomous scorpion sting, bees, snakes and the like you would:
- Take the pad, get a rough rock and rub all the thorns off (having gloves in your 72 hour kit would really come in handy here) and slice it down the middle like you were filleting a chicken breast or opening a hamburger bun.
- If you need it to be more flexible to "wrap" the wound, roast the pad over the fire (sticky side up) until it changes color. The inside sticky part of the pad is what you would apply to the wound. Wrap it with a bandage or other fabric to keep it in place.
- Change the poultice every hour until the burning sensation from the bite goes away.
What is that worth? I have known of people who spent surgery after surgery only to have an amputated appendage because of the effects of a snakebite.
Prickly pear...you little cherub...I wish I could squish your cheeks!
I learned these things from a guy named Peter "Bigfoot" Reevis. I have been to more than one class of his and I have been so glad I did every time. This information and SO much more can be found in the books available on his website. I encourage you to take at least one class from him (they charge for the classes, but what education doesn't cost something?)
You can find his books at:
Browse through classes offered:
So, the next time you see a prickly pear cactus, don't be surprised if the song "Earth Angel" comes to mind. Remember, angle's don't have wings :).