About 40 species of the genus Yucca grow in the warmer parts of North America, and a few species are hardy in colder climates. These members of the family Agavaceae are extensively cultivated, particularly in the South. The plants, with their stiff, usually sword shaped leaves, may or may not have an erect, central stem. Many have descriptive common names which are much more widely recognized than their botanical designations. Yucca aloifolia L. is called Spanish-bayonet or dagger plant; Y. brevifolia Engelm. is the well-known Joshua tree; Y. glauca Nutt. is referred to as soapweed; Y. whipplei Torr. is our-Lord's-candle.
Yucca species, together with other agaves, are known to contain large quantities of saponins. These bitter, generally irritating principles are characterized by their capacity to foam when shaken with water. The saponins in yucca are steroid derivatives, and have been extensively studied because of their potential ability as starting materials for the synthesis of cortisone and related corticoids. The specific identity and the amounts of the numerous saponins in yucca were found to vary markedly with the part of the plant tested and the season when it was collected.
Colitis, Leaky gut syndrome, Myasthenia gravis, Tendinitis, Osteoarthritis.
HOW MUCH TO TAKE
Many people take two capsules or tablets of yucca saponins per day. Up to twice this dose has been used in some cases and may be required for more severe arthritis. Alternatively, 1/4 ounce of the root can be boiled in a pint of water for fifteen minutes. Three to five cups can be drunk per day. If this causes loose stools, the amount of root in the tea should be decreased.
SIDE EFFECTS AND CAUTIONS
Yucca and other saponins can cause red blood cells to burst (known as hemolysis) in test tubes. The level to which this occurs when the saponins are taken by mouth is unknown. However, yucca is approved for use in foods as a foaming agent (particularly in root beer). Since there have been no reports of problems with hemolysis in root beer drinkers, it can be assumed that yucca herbal supplements are generally safe.