Various species of yucca plant were used as food by Native Americans and early California settlers. Yucca contains high levels of soapy compounds known as saponins that also made it a useful natural shampoo and soap.

One double-blind placebo-controlled trial reported in 1975 concluded that use of yucca reduces arthritis symptoms (both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis).1 However, this study was highly preliminary in nature, and there has not been any subsequent confirming evidence.

Animal and test tube studiessuggest that various yucca extracts may have antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal (e.g., Giardia) and antibacterial effects,3-6 but no human trials have been reported for potential uses based on these actions.

Yucca extracts are also widely used to enhance the foaming effect of carbonated beverages.