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Yucca (not yuca - a very different plant) is a member of the Agavaceae family and is also known as yucca schidigera and soap root. The yucca plant is native to hot and dry areas in North America (mostly in the southwestern deserts of the US), South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The fragrant white flowers of the yucca plant bloom during the night. The pronuba moth, also known as the yucca moth, is the only animal capable of pollinating the yucca plant (it does not pollinate any other plants). If it wasn't for the pronuba moth, the yucca plant would not exist because its pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind.
Yucca root has a long history of medicinal use among the Native Americans. It is pack with nutrients, including fiber, vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper. Yucca root also contains saponins, chemical compounds that form soapy lathers when mixed with water and offer many health benefits.
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Health Benefits of Yucca Root
The saponins in yucca root make it an excellent herbal remedy to treat problems associated with inflammation, including arthritis, bursitis, rheumatism, and colitis. In one study, done by Dr. Robert Bingham in 1975, most of the 149 participants had less pain, swelling, and stiffness in their joints. Some people noticed additional benefits as well, such as migraine relief and a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Saponins are also believed to aid digestion, prevent harmful bacteria in the intestines from absorbing into the blood, reduce muscle spasms, and improve blood circulation. Other benefits of yucca root are treating skin conditions, healing wounds, and promoting shiny and healthy hair.
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Using Yucca Root
Yucca root can be made into a tea by boiling a quarter ounce of yucca root in one pint of water for 15 minutes.
Yucca powder can be mixed into juices, smoothies, or yogurt.
You can also buy yucca root in a liquid form, as capsules, or as an ingredient in shampoos.
For external benefits, use the liquid form or make a paste with the powder and some water.
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Yucca root appears to be safe but may cause diarrhea if too much is taken.
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