What is yucca?

Yuccas are common garden plants with pointed leaves. There are many species of the plant, and the fruits, seeds, and flowers are often eaten. (Yucca shouldn’t be confused with yuca, which is a root vegetable also known as cassava.)

Yucca offers numerous health benefits and is often used medicinally. Parts of the yucca plant can be incorporated into your diet. It can also be used topically to treat skin conditions or wounds. Most commonly, yucca is taken as a supplement.

Yucca contains high amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which can benefit the immune system and overall health.

Vitamin C stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, which fight infections and viruses.

The antioxidants yucca contains protect us from cell mutations and damage from destructive molecules called free radicals.

Native Americans have long used yucca for relief from arthritis symptoms, and yucca supplements (often in tablet form) are frequently taken for the same purpose today. Yucca has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe pain.

Some research suggests that those at high risk for arthritis could potentially prevent its onset by taking yucca.

Yucca also contains powerful antioxidants and saponins. These substances can decrease arthritis symptoms.

Yucca provides multiple skin benefits. Studies have shown that yucca has photoprotective properties, and it may be able to protect against sun damage better than some commercial SPFs.

Yucca extract, which is sometimes added to lotions, soaps, or shampoos, can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including:

  • dandruff
  • balding
  • sores and cuts
  • sprains
  • skin diseases and infections

The folic acid found in yucca may help improve overall skin and eye health. The high amounts of vitamin C also aid in the production of collagen, the main protein in skin.

Yucca can still boost health in people with diabetes. There is evidence that yucca helps regulate blood sugar.

A 2013 study found that yucca regulated metabolic disturbances in diabetic rats. It was also found to moderately reduce glucose levels. While yucca should never be used in place of insulin or other medications prescribed for diabetes, it can supplement diabetes treatment. Always consult your doctor before use.

Oxidative stress (a type of imbalance in our cells) can cause serious damage to our bodies. Over time, it contributes to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, and inflammatory conditions. There is evidence that compounds in yucca, including antioxidants, help protect our bodies from oxidative stress.

A 2013 study even found significant decreases in damage from oxidative stress in mice that were given yucca supplements. The researchers found that the yucca had a protective effect against the degeneration of multiple organs.

Yucca supplements can sometimes cause side effects, including:

  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • bitter taste
  • nausea

Children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t take yucca supplements without the supervision of a doctor. There isn’t enough research to prove its safety, so it’s better to be cautious.

There are no known drug interactions for yucca supplements.

It isn’t recommended to take yucca for more than three months consecutively. It can interfere with the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

The FDA doesn’t monitor dietary supplements in the same way they do medication. Do your research on the company you choose to buy from.

Topical forms of yucca are also available as soaps, shampoos, and lotions. You can take yucca extract through oral supplements as well, in powder or liquid form.

If you decide to take yucca supplements, ask your doctor about the right dose. There isn’t a set safe amount, but your doctor can help you determine this on an individual basis. Never take more than your doctor recommends.