Fact Checked

What is Yuca Root?

Haven Esme
Haven Esme

Yuca root goes by many names. The yuca is often called cassava or manioc and is a woody shrub type plant. This plant is native to South America and can be found in many subtropical and tropical regions. Although the plant is not native to North America, it is grown in the Southwestern parts of the United States.

In South America, the yuca root is regarded as a staple crop and is extensively cultivated. It is a very starchy vegetable and is similar to a potato. This vegetable is commonly grown and consumed in places like Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and other parts of Latin America.

Yuca is also sometimes known as casava.
Yuca is also sometimes known as casava.

In many poor countries, the yuca is used as a survival crop. The crop can grow in desert-like conditions, and is a vital source of food in areas where other crops have difficulty growing. In some countries, yuca is considered a dietary staple. The plant is eaten steamed or boiled, and is a great source of carbohydrates and contains Vitamins A, B, and C.

The yuca root has many health benefits. The plant contains something called saponins, chemical compounds that are helpful to the human body. A saponin can be used to reduce muscle spasms and is an effective treatment for internal inflammation.

For this reason, some individuals choose to consume yuca in the form of a pill. The pill can treat a variety of problems such as arthritis, joint pain, colitis, and bursitis. Yuca can also be made into tea.

Yuca is a staple food in South America, where it is cultivated widely.
Yuca is a staple food in South America, where it is cultivated widely.

Yuca root must be properly prepared before it is consumed. First, the plant should be dried and thoroughly washed. Next, yuca needs to be boiled for a considerable amount of time. Once it is cooked it is bitter or sweet in flavor. Individuals that are interested in consuming yuca root should be able to find the plant in grocery stores.

Proper preparation of yuca removes a poisonous substance that lies underneath the outer skin of the plant. This substance is considered a cyanide toxin. If yuca is not properly prepared, it can cause a disease called konzo. Konzo has debilitating effects and can lead to impaired vision, paralysis, and a number of disabling diseases.

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Discussion Comments


I bought yucca in the supermarket and made french fries out of it. Does it still contain toxins? I didn't know about the toxin till reading this, seems like it would have warnings in the U.S. if sold outright in stores.


@Copperpipe -- Devil's claw is a shrub from Africa that is also used medicinally.

Many use devil's claw as an alternative painkiller, and it has been linked with reducing arthritis and other joint problems.

It's also common to use devil's claw as an anti-inflammatory, and to reduce back and neck pain.

As for why it's combined with yucca, just look at the benefits of yucca -- it can reduce the symptoms of arthritis, bursitis, and joint pain. It's better to have two herbs doing the same thing, I guess.

I do know that devil's claw and yucca is used for dogs and horses as well, but I'm not sure about the benefits for animals.

You may want to ask a holistic health practitioner for more information -- and don't forget to tell your doctor you're thinking about taking a supplement -- yucca can interact with certain drugs, so be sure to run it by somebody in the know first.


I had been looking at a lot of yucca herbal supplements lately, and it seems that many of them come combined with Devil's claw. Can anybody tell me what Devil's claw is, and why I would want to take it with yucca?

It's an herb, I'm assuming, but what are the benefits, and why is it particularly combined with yucca? Also, are there any other common yucca/herb supplements that I should look into, and if so, what are they?

Thanks for the info.


Wow. You always hear about yucca herb supplements, but I had no idea that yucca was a staple crop for some people.

Of all the possible yucca uses, I would have never guessed that one -- I can't even imagine living off of a plant like that.

At least it sounds like its healthy though, with all those vitamins and carbs. I wonder how it tastes?

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    • Yuca is also sometimes known as casava.
      By: Unclesam
      Yuca is also sometimes known as casava.
    • Yuca is a staple food in South America, where it is cultivated widely.
      By: Iryna Volina
      Yuca is a staple food in South America, where it is cultivated widely.
    • Yuca root can be used to treat colitis.
      By: inesbazdar
      Yuca root can be used to treat colitis.
    • Yuca may be available in the form of a pill.
      By: xiaosan
      Yuca may be available in the form of a pill.