Facts and Benefits of Yucca

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Facts and Benefits of Yucca

Yucca Quick Facts
Name: Yucca
Scientific Name: Yucca schidigera
Origin Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, southern Nevada and western Arizona
Colors Green when young turning to leathery dark brown
Shapes Six-celled cylindrical-shaped seed pod, 5-11.5 cm long and 3-4 cm broad
Taste Astringent
Calories 541 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Total Fat (77.74%)
Carbohydrate (55.92%)
Sodium (20.73%)
Vitamin E (19.47%)
Potassium (19.38%)
Health benefits Diabetes Control and Improves Heart Health
Yucca schidigera commonly known as Yucca, Yucca Root, Adam’s Needle, Soap Tree, Mohave yucca, soapweed, Joshua Tree, needle palm, Guardian of the Desert, Spanish Bayonet, Dagger Plant, Aloe Yucca, Bear Grass, Mohave Yucca or Mojave Yucca, Arbre de Josué, Our-Lord’s-Candle, and ghosts in the graveyard is a is a flowering plant that is native to the Mojave Desert, Chihuahuan Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, New Mexico, southern Nevada and Arizona. Nearly 50 perennial species are found under the Yucca brand of herbs and they all belong to the Asparagaceae family and subfamily Agavoideae. The name “Yucca” is derived from “yuca,” a Carib Indian name for the tapioca plant (Manihot esculenta) or cassava, of the euphorbia family. Most westerners know cassava as the tapioca plant; the roots are made into tapioca for your tapioca pudding. People cultivate yucca as a source of food, medicine and in ornamental purposes.

Plant Description

Yucca is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows about 5 meters (16 ft.) tall, with a dense crown of spirally arranged bayonet-like leaves on top of a conspicuous basal trunk. It is found growing mostly in rocky deserts, prairies, coastal sands, grasslands, light woodlands and mountainous areas. The plant generally requires dry, sandy, well-drained soil. Rhizome may reach 0.6 to 0.8 inch (1.5-2 cm) in diameter and 8 inches (20 cm) in length. Bark is gray-brown, being covered with brown dead leaves near the top, becoming irregularly rough and scaly-to-ridged closer to the ground. Stems are succulent that can reach 1 to 3 feet in height and 4 to 6 feet in width.

Leaves

Leaves are 30-150 cm long and 4-11 cm broad at the base, tough, pointed, sword-shaped that grow in whorls. It is concavo-convex, thick, very rigid, and yellow-green to blue-green in color and covered with white, yellowish or creamy stripes and sharp spines on the tips.

Flower & fruit

The plant produces bisexual flowers. Flowers are white, sometimes having a purple tinge, bell-shaped, 3-5 cm long (rarely to 7.5 cm), produced in a compact, bulbous cluster 60-120 cm tall at the top of the stem. The fruit is fleshy six-celled cylindrical-shaped seed pod, 5-11.5 cm long and 3-4 cm broad in late summer. It is green when young, maturing into leathery, dark brown pods. Yucca is a natural substance long used in herbal medicine. Yucca flowers are edible and taste like bitter artichoke. Besides the flowers, fruit, seed and stems can be also used in human diet. People cultivate yucca as a source of food, medicine and in ornamental purposes.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their astringent taste, yucca is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 105 gram of yucca offers 27.21 g of Total Fat, 72.69 g of Carbohydrate, 311 mg of Sodium, 2.92 mg of Vitamin E911 mg of Potassium, 0.934 mg of Vitamin B5, 104 mg of Phosphorus, 0.121 mg of Copper, 0.296 mg of Manganese, 48 mg of Magnesium, 0.137 mg of Vitamin B6 and 3.9 g of Total dietary Fiber.

Health Benefits of Yucca

Yucca offers numerous health benefits, and is often used medicinally. Yucca can be incorporated into your diet. It can also be used topically to treat skin conditions or wounds. If you don’t want to eat yucca at meals, there are supplements available. Listed below are some of the well-known health benefits of yucca:

1. Digestive Efficiency

The dense and nutrient-rich root of the yucca plant is full of valuable dietary fiber. This fiber helps to stimulate peristaltic motion in your bowels and keep you regular, removing problems like constipation and diarrhea. Diet high in dietary fiber can help you to reduce bloating, cramping, excessive flatulence, and more serious gastrointestinal issues.(1)

2. Skin and Eye Health

Folic acid present in yucca has also been associated to improving the overall skin and eye health in humans, mostly through its antioxidant activities. Additionally, folic acid has been directly related to a reduced chance of neural tube defects in infants, so pregnant mothers are encouraged to add folic acid to their diet in recommended amounts. Yucca is a great way to boost that vitamin intake! (2)

3. Diabetes Control

Adding yucca to your diet can help regulate insulin and glucose levels, thus preventing the peaks and plunges of blood sugar that can lead to diabetes. Since diabetes is considered by some to be a global “pandemics”, adding yucca to your diet seems like a great choice! (3)

4. Boosts Immunity

Yucca consists of good amount of vitamin C, far more than most other edible roots, and this makes it incredibly important for immune system health. Vitamin C is the first line of defense for our immune system, encouraging the production and activity of white blood cells. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, preventing free radicals from damaging our organ systems and causing cell mutation.(4)

5. Wound Healing and Growth

Apart from boosting immunity, Vitamin C is also a key component in the production of collagen, which we need for all blood vessels, cells, tissues, and muscles, so adding a vitamin C boost to your diet can help repair and growth throughout your body.(5)

6. Improves Cognition

Yucca consists of high levels of potassium and folate, both of which are known to encourage blood flow to the brain and increase cognitive abilities. Stimulating pathways in the brain and increasing blood flow is also good for combating cognitive disorders and keeping you sharp well into your old age.(6)

7. Promotes Weight Loss

Dietary fiber makes you feel full and regulates the uptake of nutrients in an efficient way, you are less likely to snack or break from your dietary restrictions. Simple sugars often leave us feeling hungry when we’re not, simply because our body’s glucose levels are imbalanced. Yucca root can prevent that and help in your weight loss efforts in a way that other carbohydrates can’t.(7)

8. Improves Heart Health

Dietary fiber of yucca helps to lower cholesterol levels and promote a healthier cardiovascular system by balancing fatty acid levels. Though, the potassium found in yucca also help to relieve the tension in the blood vessels and arteries, thus lowering your chances of stress on the heart, which can lead to atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.(8)

9. Skin Protection

Yucca consists of some photo-protective properties that make it important for protecting the skin against damage from the sun. Resveratrol found in yucca is proven to strengthen skin and increase its resistance to degradation from free radicals and sun damage that can ultimately lead to skin cancer. (9)

10. Relieve headache

Headache takes place when the nerve on brain gets excessive impulse and contractile blood flow. Yucca root consists of magnesium and manganese that help to stabilize the nerve and relieve pain.

11. Ease Arthritic Pain

Resveratrol and saponins present in yucca root have been directly linked to anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it a very good natural treatment for inflammation issues, particularly arthritis. Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between the two, but the precise chemical pathway remains somewhat mysterious.

12. Treat baldness

Yucca root is quite beneficial for people who have problem with baldness. The extract of yucca root is used as ingredients of natural shampoo and it is effective in promoting hair growth and cure baldness. Nowadays many manufacture industries use the yucca root as ingredient in their hair treatment product mainly in America.

13. Prevent atherosclerosis

Astherosclesrosis is a problem that occurs inside the arteries wall due to the thickening and accumulation of cholesterol. The cholesterol that comes to the body accumulated in the inner wall of arteries and it can increase the chance of developing heart disease. Yucca root contains fiber and antioxidant that can lower the cholesterol level and prevent it from entering the arteries wall.

14. Prevent aging

Nobody wants to looks old; if you also think the same, yucca root may help to keep firm and tight skin. Vitamin C and other antioxidant content of yucca root can be effective to get rid of free radicals damage that known as culprit that causing aging in human body.

15. Fasten external wound healing

If you get some wound on your skin caused by cut or insect bites just rub some yucca root extract on skin or consuming it to fasten the healing from inside. Yucca root contains protein and other active substance that can encourage new skin cell formation and help your wound to recover fast.

16. Treat ulcer

Yucca root has been proven to have anti-gastritic properties. This benefit is provided by fiber and other active components such as antioxidant. Consuming yucca root is recommended to people who suffer from gastritis or ulcer.

17. Relieve constipation

Fiber content in yucca root can help the large intestine in defecation process and it ease the bowel movement by soften and adding bulk to stool. Lack of fiber may cause constipation since the stool will be hard and difficult to move through the large intestine.

18. Prevent cancer

Cancer is actually a degenerative or mutation disease. It happen when the DNA of cell got damage. Many factors can cause cancer such as microorganism, toxic, and free radical effect. The antioxidant content in yucca root help to protect the body cells from free radicals effect and saponine will be helpful in cleans the toxic which enter the body.

19. Cholesterol & High Blood Pressure

Yucca can be used to reduce the levels of blood cholesterol and to balance the blood pressure in the body. Anti-oxidant properties and the presence of saponins in the herb are said to be the reasons behind this property. The herb can reduce the buildup of free radicals in the body and thus can stop damages to the blood vessels.

Research has shown that a combination of Yucca Schidigera and Quillaja saponaria help in reducing the symptoms of hypercholesterolemia. Another research has showed that tribal members from the Masai tribe in Africa generally have very low cholesterol levels. Research found that this may be due to the fact that the tribal members use a lot of Yucca root in their diet.

Traditional uses and benefits of Yucca

  • Some reports claim that Native Americans washed their hair with yucca to fight dandruff and hair loss.
  • Yucca has been used to treat are headaches, bleeding, gonorrhea, arthritis and rheumatism.
  • It is also used as a natural deodorizer.
  • It can be used in pet deodorizers.
  • Yucca helps to reduce high blood pressure, Migraine pain and high cholesterol.
  • It cures diabetes, poor blood circulation and liver disorders.
  • It protects the body against sun damage.
  • It treats skin conditions like dandruff, baldness, sores and cuts, sprains, skin diseases and infections.
  • It is beneficial for treating colitis, hypertension, Arthritis and migraine headaches.
  • It makes you feel full for a longer time.
  • Poultices made from the leaves were used to heal skin sores and for sprains.

Ayurvedic Health Benefits of Yucca

  • Arthritis: Make a decoction of Yucca root. Drink to get relief in Rheumatoid Arthritis. You can add honey for better taste.
  • Hair fall: Smash the root of Yucca with hammer. Take 5g of it. Run water over it. Use this water to wash your hair.

Culinary Uses

  • Flowers and fruit could be eaten and the black seeds were ground into flour.
  • Young flowering stems can be chopped and cooked like asparagus or baked like a sweet potato.
  • Fruit can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • It can be baked then dried and ground into a powder then used in soups etc. or made into a drink.
  • Fruit can also be used to make jellies.
  • Flowers are delicious raw, and can also be dried, crushed and used as a flavoring and can also be used in jellies.
  • Yucca root can be baked, mashed or fried.
  • Yucca root can be taken as a vegetable or can even be consumed as an herbal tea.
  • Yucca is also used for the preparation of various cocktails.

Other Facts

  • Fibers of the leaves were used by Native Americans to make rope, sandals, and cloth.
  • Roots were used to make soap.
  • The rigid stalk of the yucca, after maturation, is used as a substitute for eucalyptus to make didgeridoos.
  • Mojave Desert natives made torches of dried Mojave yucca leaves.
  • Fibers were used to make bowstrings, ropes, saddle blankets, shell money strings, basket materials, and body painting brushes.
  • Whole leaves were used to secure house beams and poles.
  • Seeds added to sticks became animal toys for children.
  • Seeds also decorated necklaces.
  • Fur was twisted around Mojave yucca cord to make robes.
  • Mojave yucca extracts have also decreased the fecal odor from dogs and cats when added to food.
  • The strong fibers have been used to make shoes and sandals.

Precautions

  • Overdose may cause Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Prolonged use is not recommended.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=505787#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=405146

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Yucca+schidigera

https://www.drugs.com/npp/yucca.html

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=yusc2

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-309930

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_schidigera

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