Product based on prickly pear extract takes aim at jet lag

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images

Related tags Inflammation Energy Sleep Jet lag

An herbal product aimed at combating jet lag based on a prickly pear fruit extract has hit the US market.

The product, dubbed Prepair, is based on a proprietary extract of the skin of the fruit of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus indica​). The extract, branded as Tex-OE, was developed by French biochemical entrepreneur Gilles Gutierrez, PhD, at his Institute for Cellular Pharmacology in Malta and his company Texinfine in Lyon, France.  The product was licensed for the US market by marketing professional Gerry Stefanko, who bases his company, called Nutrimark, in Cardiff by the Sea, CA.

Stefanko has had the US and Canadian rights to the extract for a number of years, and has marketed products based on the extract as hangover cures and as general energy products. He said new developments in the air travel market means the product could have a new application.

“I saw that the airlines are testing the waters for ultra long distance flights, where people would be sitting in a plane for 20 hours,”​ Stefanko told NutraIngredients-USA.

Stimulation of heat shock proteins

The basic idea behind the extract is its purported ability to accelerate the body’s synthesis of a class of proteins called Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs).  These proteins are naturally generated in the body in response to stress, which in the case of airline travel includes exposure to high levels of noise, low humidity, restricted movement, low air pressure, etc. 

In his initial development work Gutierrez claimed Tex-OE had been demonstrated to help the body to generate HSPs as much as 20 times faster than normal. Stefanko said it thus lessens the amount of time that processes of oxidative stress could damage tissues and cause the feelings of fatigue and general malaise associated with jet lag.

The extract, which was originally developed by Gutierrez to help divers in the Mediterranean with fatigue has been proven to raise HSPs levels in several animal models, most recently in day-old broiler chicks​, which decreased mortality and improved live weight in a UK study.

The product has been on the European market positioned for jet lag since 2013 as Protex-H, marketed by a Scottish company.

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