Prickly pear seed oil is extracted during a very time-consuming and laborious procedure. The production of 1 liter prickly pear seed oil takes 36 hours of manual labor, and about 1 million prickly pear seeds are needed. The seeds are separated from the pulp of a 470 kg contingent of prickly pears. Then they are washed carefully, air-dried under sunbeams and afterwards stored in a cool and dry place. On demand, the seeds will then be cold-pressed in a very careful way.
Unfortunately, also chemically extracted prickly pear seed oil is on offer. This kind of oil originates, when prickly pear seeds are pulverized and then inserted into a solvent like hexane, for instance. Hexane causes adverse health effects and is hazardous to water (WGK 2). To remove the hexane from the prickly pear seed oil again, the oil is heated up, so that the hexane can evaporate. What remains from this procedure is prickly pear seed oil with traces of hexane. Because of the heat supply, which is needed during the chemical extraction process, a non negligible part of the valuable ingredients of the prickly pear seed oil is destroyed, as for example the unsaturated fatty acids, the natural antioxidants as well as the vitamins. To avoid an oxidation of the fatty acids, some producers add antioxidants, mainly synthetic tocopherols and Ascorbyl palmitate to the prickly pear seed oil.
We absolutely disapprove of the use of chemical extraction! We produce fresh, cold-pressed prickly pear seed oil by treating the prickly pear seeds carefully, without using chemical extraction and by renunciation of higher yields. In using the cold pressure procedure, all effective ingredients benefitting our skin are preserved.
Prickly pear seed oil offers a very high amount of essential fatty acids in natural compound. Prickly pear seed oil contains more than 88 per cent of unsaturated fatty acid with a proportion of approx. 70 per cent of linoleic acid (Omega 6 fatty acid). Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid and is considered as an essential fatty acid, i.e. this fatty acid is absolutely indispensible for many different metabolic processes of the human organism which is not able to produce this acid itself. Hence, prickly pear seed oil has to be judged as very valuable in terms of nutritianal physiology and it is also particularly suited for the use in the production of dietary supplements.
Besides, prickly pear seed oil is also rich in tocopherols (720 mg/liter). Tocopherol is the generic term for at least eight chemically similar structured compounds. Prickly pear seed oil consists of 13.9 per cent Alpha-Tocopherol, 81.9 per cent Gamma-Tocopherol, 3.0 per cent Beta-Tocopherol and 1.2 per cent Delta-Tocopherol. Most of the time, the term vitamin E is wrongly used for alpha-tocopherol – the most studied form of vitamin E. Vitamin E is used as general term for a group of sixteen liposoluble chemical compounds, which differ in their strength of efficiacy. Those compounds also include all tocopheroles.
Tocopherols are responsible for the impressive effectiveness of prickly pear seed oil as natural antioxidant. It is particularly those "guardian angels", which are in charge of protecting all valuable unsaturated fatty acids against the destruction by free radicals. Free radicals are known to promote the skin ageing process. Primarily, they originate from cigarette smoke (also from passive smoking), environmental poisons (ionized radiation: televisions, computers, mobile phones, ultraviolet rays, smog and ozone), alcohol, drugs and physical strain. By using prickly pear seed oil a natural barrier for the most important cells of the immune system is created, which originates from intercepting the free radicals. For that reason, tocopherols are called radical scavengers.
Evermore cosmetics manufacturers, food manufacturers and pharmaceutical manufacturers have recognized the effect of the prickly pear seed oil and successfully use it in their products. Nevertheless, the extremely time-consuming production of prickly pear seed oil as well as the special appreciation it is shown, lead to the fact that on the market prickly pear seed oils blended with simple oils can be found very often. Very often one can also find offerings of prickly pear seed oils which have not been won from cold-pressed seeds, but from maceration. Maceration is basically a quite simple process in which the blossoms of the prickly pears are inserted into oil and temporarily kept at average room temperature, so that the blossoms can be "leached out" by the carrier oil.
This macerate won by infusing prickly pear blossoms may be offered as prickly pear flower oil but not as prickly pear seed oil. The macerate is low-priced, but does not offer the excellent qualities of the pure genuine prickly pear seed oil by far. In case of ill-defined product names, it is very important to verify if the offered product is cold-pressed prickly pear seed oil or not.