Did you know the Incas actually used the bark of a tree to cure stone and bone ailments? And how about the Mayans, the native people of the Yucatan Peninsula who used the tree to cure respiratory problems and to encourage sexual health? Or the Aztecs, who used the tree to create teas and incense? And did you know the Chinese used huperzine as a laxative and herbal tonic? And don’t forget the Greeks and Romans, who used it to treat eye ailments.
Well, for starters, it has medicinal properties that can support overall healing; with its numerous other health benefits as well. In ancient times, early inhabitants used the fibrous pulp fibers collected from its fleshy leaves as rope and floss for threading clothes. Likewise, this perennial American tree is sometimes called in various names; like the Lamps of God, Spanish knife, and Mihuahuas. Today, the yucca is often used for landscaping, soil, and garden products because of its wood-like texture and tendency to resist decay. But there’s so much more to it than its appearance.
The health benefits of the yucca flower begin with the fact that it is a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C improves immune system functions by fighting against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It helps neutralize free radicals that cause cell damage and hasten the regeneration of cells. As the fruit develops, it produces new leaves and shoots. This process of growth promotes the higher concentration of vitamin C within the flower itself.
Another one of the health benefits of yucca flower is that it improves skin health. The resins found inside the flower contain fatty acids that are said to stimulate collagen production. Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues, bones, teeth, and skin. It is responsible for elasticity, firmness, and youthful skin. Since this natural compound is a powerful antioxidant, it scavenges free radicals that cause cellular damage. When the skin is healthier, wrinkles and fine lines do not appear as easily.
Aside from boosting the health benefits of its carbohydrates, another one of the health benefits of yucca is its fiber content. The plant grows easily in damp soils that are low in nitrogen and low in micronutrients. It is one of the fastest growing crops in its genus. Because of its fast growth rate, most gardeners and farmers cultivate it for its edible parts – stems, leaves, and fruit. Some plant foods such as yucca leaf powder are commonly used in Asian cuisine.
Another of the health benefits of yucca is its effect in controlling blood sugar levels. It lowers blood sugar levels due to the presence of nutrients like alpha-lipoic acid that act as insulin sensitizers and glucose blockers. This natural compound also contains substances that inhibit glycation, which is one of the factors responsible for age-related deterioration of skin cells, joints, and other tissues in the body.
One of the benefits of the yucca plant that has been studied extensively is its effects in controlling blood pressure. The resin contained in the flower is said to be effective in reducing high blood pressure and increasing cardiovascular health. Its effects in controlling blood pressure are attributed to the presence of flavonoids, saponins, catechins, as well as quercetin, all of which have been shown to lower blood pressure.
One of the more controversial health benefits of yucca flowers is its ability in cleansing the liver. Many people believe that excessive alcohol intake, excessive smoking, and consumption of caffeine-based products lead to liver damage. Some even go as far as to say that liver failure can result from too much alcohol intake and too much consumption of caffeinated beverages. To prove the claims of the health benefits of consuming the flower, a number of animal experimental and clinical studies have been conducted. One such study showed that mice treated with cirrhosis and alcoholic liver disease showed significant improvement when consuming the extract of yucca flowers. Another study found that consuming the flower extract was able to prevent the progression of renal cell carcinoma and liver cancer in animals.