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Botanical Description & Habitat

Selenicereus grandiflorus


Common Names
Night Blooming Cereus
Sweet Scented Cactus                         
Vanilla Cactus
Large-flowered Cactus
Indigenous to Central America and is cultivated mainly in Mexico.        

Has a succulent trunk with a branched stem which is 4 to 8 sided or 5 to 6 sided. It is green to bluish and has no bumps and is covered in adventitious roots.        

The flowers of Cereus have many lanceolate tepals; the outer tepals are brown, the middle ones are yellow, and the inner tepals are white. The stamens are white and have yellow anthers. The plant's sweet-smelling flowers only bloom for approximately 6 hours before wilting. Cereus are cultivated in greenhouses in June or July and are conserved in alcohol.        

Medicinal Parts
Flowers - dried or fresh
Stems and Shoot - fresh and young

Historical Properties And Uses

Cereus is used for angina pectoris, and nervous cardiac disorders. Cereus is also used for stenocardia, and urinary ailments. In folk medicine, cereus is used orally for hemoptysis, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, and hemorrhage. Its juice is used for cystitis, dropsy, and shortness of breath. It is also used as a skin stimulant for rheumatism (topically).

Method Of Action

The medicinal parts of cereus are the flower, stem, and young shoots. Due to its digitalis effect, cereus can stimulate the heart and dilate coronary and peripheral vessels. Cereus stimulates the motor neurons in the spinal cord and is theorized to act topically as an antiphlogistic. Cereus contains tyramine, a cardiotonic amine, and is thought to strengthen heart muscle action

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Cereus may potentiate the actions of digoxin and other cardiac glycosides, and may enhance the effect of other cardiac drugs.        
Due to its tyramine content, excessive doses may interact with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

There are no known side effects or health hazards in concurrence with the administration of proper therapeutic doses of Cereus.

The fresh juice is said to cause burning of the mouth, pustules on the skin, queasiness, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Preparation & Administration

Folk medicine dosages are as follows:

0.6ml of liquid extract to be taken 1 to 10 times daily.

0.12 to 2ml of tincture dosage to be taken 2 to 3 times daily.

Tincture in sweetened water (1:10), 10 drops taken 3 to 5 times daily.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


Brinker, Francis Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998.

Grieve, M. A Modern Herbal. Penguin Books Ltd, 1984

Gruenwald, J, Brendler, T & Jaenicke, C (Eds.): PDR for Herbal Medicines. Medical Economics, NJ. 1998

Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996


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