Night-Blooming Cactus (Selenicereus grandiflorus)


Used for weak, irregular heart action, tachycardia, palpitations, aortic regurgitation, and angina.

Mechanism of Action

The amines in night-blooming cactus are credited with cardiotonic effects. The amino acid tyramine is found in the plant and credited with a positive ionotropic action.1 Selicereus can stimulate the heart and dilate peripheral vessels.2 The flowers contain betacyanins and flavonolglycosides, at least eight flavonoids, tyramine (0.3% in dry matter), and hordenine.

Evidence-Based Research

There have been no clinical trials or modern scientific investigations on night-blooming cactus as yet. Case reports may be found by Dr. AO Jones from 1890.

Safety in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There are no investigations published regarding the use of night-blooming cactus in pregnancy or lactation.

General Safety

The plant is considered safe when used in small doses in the traditional manner. Mouse data report the LD50 to be 10,700 mg/kg body weight orally and 145 mg/kg body weight subcutaneously.5,3


Low doses of night-blooming cactus, 10–100 mg QD to BID are clinically effective.

Traditional Uses

Cereus or Cactus grandiflorus (now classified as Selenicereus grandifloras) is a folkloric medicine used as a heart tonic for blood pressure regulation and the management of the symptoms of congestive heart failure.4,5 Night-blooming cactus is specific for weak, irregular heart action; aortic regurgitation; and angina, especially when associated with depression and lethargy. The early American folkloric notion was that night-blooming cactus was a restorative remedy for the heart, capable of improving function via nutritional and tonic effects.


1 Planta Med. 1982;44(1):36–40. New cardioactive drugs II, detection and isolation of cardiotonic amines with ionpair-HPLC. Wagner H, Grevel J.

2 PDR for Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc.; 1998. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C.

3 Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products. 1999. EMEA/MRL/601/99-Final April. Selenicereus grandiflorus summary report. European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, Veterinary Medicines Evaluation Unit.

4 Minerva Med. 1955;46(103):1975–6. A new drug compound with Cereus grandiflorus Mill., a Mexican cactus with cardiotonic action. ROBIOLA PF.

5 Br Med J. 1890;1(1515):70–1. Cactus Grandiflorus in Some Forms of Heart Disease. Jones AO.