Some of the health benefits of prickly pear include its ability to lower cholesterol levels, improve the digestive process, decrease the risk of diabetes, boost the immune system, stimulate bone growth, strengthen blood vessels, prevent certain cancers, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, aid in weight loss attempts, and eliminate inflammation throughout the body. Before eating a prickly pear, it is very important to remove the skin and peel it off so all of the spines are removed. If they aren’t, the glochids can lodge themselves in your lips, gums, and throat, which can be very painful. After that, however, the fruit can be used for a variety of things, either eaten raw or dry, and made into various jellies and jams, candies, or alcoholic beverages like vodka. In fact, native Americans often used prickly pears to make colonche, and certain varieties of the cactus possess psychotropic components, including mescaline, making the cactus fruits useful for making Ayahuasca. One of the most popular uses of prickly pear is as a hangover cure, and it has been used to reduce headaches associated with too much alcohol for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.