The Health Benefits of Yucca

Research suggests yucca really does have many health benefits.

mohave yucca
Blooming mohave yucca. Credit: WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

Yucca is a natural substance long used in herbal medicine. Sourced from the root of the yucca tree, it's also consumed as a food. Proponents claim that taking yucca in supplement form or applying yucca to the skin can help treat a variety of health problems.

Uses for Yucca

In alternative medicine, yucca supplements are said to help with the following conditions:

In addition, yucca is thought to stimulate circulation, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain.

When applied directly to the skin, yucca is typically used to treat dandruff and promote hair growth.

Health Benefits of Yucca

To date, few scientific studies have tested the health effects of yucca. Still, there's some evidence that yucca may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on yucca:

1) Arthritis

A 2006 report published in the Journal of Inflammation suggests that yucca shows promise as a natural remedy for arthritis. According to the report, a number of antioxidants found in yucca may help alleviate arthritis by reducing inflammation. However, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing yucca's effectiveness against arthritis.

2) High Cholesterol

In a 2003 clinical trial published in Archives of Pharmacal Research, daily ingestion of a combination of Yucca schidigera and the herbal extract Quillaja saponaria for four weeks decreased total and LDL cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol.

3) Oxidative Stress

Preliminary research indicates that yucca may help fight oxidative stress. In a 2003 study published in Nutrition, for example, laboratory tests revealed that compounds extracted from yucca bark may help protect against oxidative stress by slowing up the production of free radicals in blood platelets.

According to the study's authors, this finding suggests that yucca may help strengthen the body's defense against cardiovascular disease.

It should be noted that most yucca supplements contain extracts from the root of the plant, rather than yucca bark.


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of yucca. However, there's some concern that yucca may trigger a number of side effects (including nausea).

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Learn more about using dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives to Yucca

If you're seeking a natural treatment for osteoarthritis, a number of other remedies may be beneficial. For instance, studies show that glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and avocado/soybean unsaponifiables may each help manage osteoarthritis. In addition, practicing yoga, taking up tai chi, and/or undergoing acupuncture may help curb arthritis pain.

For help in fighting oxidative stress, make sure to load up on foods high in antioxidants. Increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich substances like green tea, vitamin C, resveratrol, cocoa, and turmeric may also help combat oxidative stress.

Where To Find It

Often sold in powder form, yucca is widely available for purchase online and in natural-foods stores.

Using Yucca for Health

It's important to note that self-treating a condition with yucca supplements and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of yucca in treatment of a condition, make sure to consult your physician.


Cheeke PR, Piacente S, Oleszek W. "Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects of Yucca schidigera: a review." J Inflamm (Lond). 2006 Mar 29;3:6.

Kim, S. W., Park, S. K., Kang, S. I., Kang, H. C., Oh, H. J., Bae, C. Y., and Bae, D. H. Hypocholesterolemic property of Yucca schidigera and Quillaja saponaria extracts in human body. Arch Pharm.Res 2003;26(12):1042-1046.

Olas B, Wachowicz B, Stochmal A, Oleszek W. "Inhibition of oxidative stress in blood platelets by different phenolics from Yucca schidigera Roezl. bark." Nutrition. 2003 Jul-Aug;19(7-8):633-40.

VanderJagt TJ, Ghattas R, VanderJagt DJ, Crossey M, Glew RH. Comparison of the total antioxidant content of 30 widely used medicinal plants of New Mexico. Life Sci. 2002 Jan 18;70(9):1035-40.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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