This plant belongs to the Cactaceae family. This genus includes more than 200 species, some of which are volunteer plants, i.e. plants that grow on their own rather than being cultivated, in Southeastern Europe, Africa and Asia.

The prickly pear was first used for therapeutic purposes by villagers who actually used parts of its fleshy stem with excellent results. There are references of female healers, often thought of as witches, who exorcised illness using the prickly pear.

In Italy, people brewed its flowers and drank this infusion as a remedy for kidney diseases, while Mexicans used not only the flowers – as expectorants and treatment for erysipelas (a skin infection) – but its fruits as well.

Λάμπρου Π. Σπύρου Γιατρού (1984). Τα βότανα και οι θεραπευτικές τους ιδιότητες
Ιωάννου Κ. Πρινέα & Αναργύρου Μιχ. Σφακιανάκη. Βοτανοθεραπευτική