ADI’s Top Stories Of 2018

Cactus Water Will Make You Sick

BY: JONATHAN DUHAMEL JUNE 5, 2013

ADI recently had a story about six men lost in the desert who claimed they survived by drinking water from cacti. The story reported that the men became sick.

That’s what happens if you drink water stored in a cactus. You can get some moisture from cactus fruit and all cactus fruit is edible, though all do not taste good.

The Seri Indians sometimes used the Fishhook barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni) for emergency water. However, drinking the juice on an empty stomach often caused diarrhea and that will further dehydrate you. Some Seri report pain in their bones if they walk a long distance after drinking the juice. The Seri called the Coville barrel (Ferocactus emoryi), “barrel that kills” because eating the flesh of the cactus causes nausea, diarrhea, and temporary paralysis.