Plants with beneficial properties are known in traditional medicine. Nowadays, in spite of widespread availability of synthetic compounds, the search goes towards natural compounds to lower cost and few side effects. The increasing interest in preventive medicine encourages use of nutraceuticals, bioactive compounds of vegetable origin with important nutritional values. Among the medicinal plants, Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller (Family Cactaceae, subfamily Opuntiodeae, Genus Opuntia, subgenus Platyopuntia, species Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller) is widely known for its beneficial properties. The aim of the present review is to stress the major classes of Opuntia components and their medical interest through emphasis on some of their biological effects, particularly those having the most promising expected health benefits and therapeutic impacts on fish and mammals.
Keywords: Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller; antimicrobial; antioxidant; hyperglycaemic; liver diseases.