Naagphani is a cactus plant. It is a xerophytic shrub with prickly thorns. This cactus has no leaves and it is adapted to dry conditions. Traditionally, this plant is used in treatment of respiratory ailments, whooping cough, pneumonia etc. The dried or fresh flowers of cactus are astringent and hemostatic (stops ableeding). Naagphani is also used for temporary birth control. In tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, the ash of the aerial portion, mixed with sugar candy, is given for three weeks as contraception. Its orange-red colored fruits are edible (but the surface thorns must be carefully removed). It helps people suffering from piles.
By Victor Korniyenko (Own work)[CC BY-SA 3.0or GFDL] via Wikimedia Commons
This plant is recommended for growing in polluted cities for reducing the level of SO2 Sulphur dioxide.
The botanical name of Prickly pear is Opuntia dillenii Haw. Its synonyms are Opuntia stricta Haw. var. dillenii (Ker-Gawl.) Benson. It belongs to plant family Cactaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Caryophyllidae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Cactaceae – Cactus family
- Genus: Opuntia Mill. – pricklypear
- Species: Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw. – erect pricklypear
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Whole plant
Plant type: Under shrub
Distribution: Native of Mexico;well acclimatized throughout India.
Habitat: dry/desert areas.
- English: Prickly Pear, Slipper Thorn
- Ayurvedic: Naagaphani, Kanthaari
- Unani: Naagphani
- Siddha/Tamil: Sappathikalli, Nagathali
- Madhya Pradesh: Thuar
- Hindi: Hathhathoria, Nagphana
- Gujrati: Chorhatalo
- Kannada: Papaskalli
- Malyalam: Palakkalli
- Marathi: Chapal
- Oriya: Nagophenia
- Telugu: Nagajemudu
Medicinal Uses of Nagphani
As a folk medicine, Nagphani is used in treatment of inflammation, constipation, pneumonia, contraception and many other diseases.
It is used both internally and externally. In any case, it is essential to remove the thorns before use.
Take stem part of the plant, cut in small pieces boil and get extract. Give the extract in dose of 2 ml, twice a day, for five days.
Inflammation, arthritis, Hydrocele
Take the stem and remove the spines. Cut it from the middle, put some turmeric and mustard oil. Heat it and tie as poultice on inflammation.
Irritable bowel, mucous colitis, inflammation of the prostate gland
Infusion of flower is used.
Put only few drops of latex on Batasha/sugar candy and take.