The prickly pear cactus has been a staple in the diets of the people of the American Southwest, the Middle East, parts of Europe and Africa, and Central and South America for hundreds of years. Traditionally, the prickly pear cactus has been used as a panacea for over 100 different ailments. More recently, it has been the subject of blood cholesterol research trials sponsored by the American Heart Association. In addition to the results of this research, Knishinsky includes scientific studies on the antiviral properties of the cactus to treat herpes, influenza and HIV, as well as its use in treating obesity, gastrointestinal disorders and skin ailments. A resource section details the natural food companies that supply prickly pear cactus and a chapter of recipes offers 24 traditional and modern dishes using the pads and fruit. Copyright 2004, softcover, 144 pages.