Botanical: Yucca schidigera
Family: Liliaceae (lily)- Agavaceae (agave)
Other common names: Mojave Yucca, Spanish Dagger, Soapweed, Spanish Bayonet, Needle Palm, Our Lord's Candle
An important food source for many early Native Americans, many tribes also relied on Yucca to cleanse and detoxify the body (inside and out!). Today, we still regard Yucca as a wonderful blood-cleansing tonic that helps to rid the kidney and liver of toxins. It is also a remarkable source of healthful nutrients and may even help to relieve arthritis.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
The Yucca belongs to a genus of stiff-leaved evergreen plants, trees and shrubs, and there are about fifty species native to North America, most of them native to the southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Some, however, are found in arid areas of southern Alberta. The coarse desert succulent has long, spike-like leaves that resemble a dagger, giving the plant several of its common names, i.e., "Spanish Bayonet" and "Spanish Dagger," and many are cultivated for their striking appearance as ornamentals. The various plants may grow anywhere from four to twenty-five feet in height and reproduce only by pollination of the Yucca moth, a perfect symbiotic relationship. Yucca typically grows on rocky desert slopes and thrives in full sun and well-drained soil; it also needs no summer water. The bark of Yucca is gray-brown, and the plant bears white, bell-shaped flowers, sometimes having a purple tinge, produced in a compact, bulbous cluster. Yucca occupied a very important place in the history of the American Southwest as both a food source and medicine, and it also served many other purposes. Navajo warriors carried the dried fruits with them during long journeys as a nutritious food (and soap), and the Hopis especially understood its natural cleansing properties. Several of the southern tribes used Yucca to induce vomiting. The plant was used to cure baldness and treat dandruff, and the fibers in Yucca were utilized in cloth-making, cordage and baskets. In modern medicine, some very early laboratory tests have shown some anti-cancer properties against melanoma in animals and possible anti-malignant growth activity. Researchers at the AMC Cancer Research Center and Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, found that an extract of Yucca's flowers significantly reduced tumors and malignant melanoma. Some of the constituents included in Yucca are saponins, fiber, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, B-vitamins and vitamins A and C.
Yucca is a superior blood cleanser and blood purifier that detoxifies the entire system. The high saponin content apparently does not enter the bloodstream but acts only on the intestinal flora to regulate the balance of bacteria in the colon. The saponins appear to encourage friendly flora and inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. In addition, they may indirectly stimulate the absorption of other nutritional factors and decrease toxins available for absorption from the digestive system.
Yucca is believed to provide great relief for arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The action of the saponins in helping to inhibit the absorption of toxins aids the eliminative systems of the body (kidneys, liver, blood and lymph), because they are less taxed to remove poisons from the body. Consequently, this is believed to lower the build-up of the toxins in the joints that are related to degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Yucca also appears to have the ability to break up inorganic mineral obstructions and deposits and reduces inflammation of the joints. Testing has demonstrated that saponins are a hormonal material, a steroid, with properties similar to the adrenal hormone, cortisone.
Yucca is high in fiber and may be very beneficial for treating intestinal and digestive problems, including intestinal gas. Additionally, the saponins provide healthy alkalinity to an acid-ridden system (full of toxic impurities), and this action somehow helps to improve digestion and the tendency to develop accumulations of undigested toxic waste, which decomposes in the colon, producing foul-smelling gasses.
Used externally, Yucca root has a long history as a soap, shampoo and hair tonic (said to stop baldness). Yucca's high natural saponins (which also account for its internal cleansing qualities) will actually lather up, and the plant may be used as an effective soap substitute.
Prolonged, uninterrupted use (more than three months) of Yucca Herbal Supplement is not recommended, as long-term use may slow the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Check with your health care professional to see if supplements of these vitamins are needed if you are using Yucca over a period of time.