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Yucca hormone warning (and botany/history)

I haven't seen this come up re Yucca and thought it was worth posting.

For anyone using or interested in using Yucca for ammonia, be aware that it has powerful hormonal influence.

Very soon after taking a Yucca supplement I had swollen breasts for a week (mimicking bad PMS) and then my period, 18 days early in my cycle! My period is rarely irregular, so I looked into it. It turns out that Yucca was used by Native Americans precisely to induce menses. Nothing has ever affected my hormones that powerfully. (Note that it did not have any noticable beneficial affect for me re ammonia symptoms, just fyi. Charcoal, arginine/ornithine and malic acid help ammonia for me).

"Licorice, Red Clover, Yucca, Hops (Beer) and Motherwort: Zava, PhD showed that these herbs stimulated estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells to grow. Red Clover and Yucca were found to be equal in potency to estradiol at the same concentrations. Women who harvest hops for beer begin menstruating 2 days later anecdotally."

You can find Zava's studies on PubMed, the references are listed at the bottom of the male summary article below (sorry the article is kinda cheesy but the info and references are good). The above quote is from the female article:

From a female perspective: http://www.nocramp.com/phyto.html
From a male perspective: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/eat-like-a-t-man

Maybe some people are not affected hormonally, but I sure was. I'm also affected by Licorice, so taking "adrenal" supplements in the past, which often contain Licorice, always ended up messing up my hormones too. Maybe I'm just really sensitive hormonally, I don't know. But the traditional medicine application was indeed hormonal, so I can't be merely an anomaly.


On another note, I want to clarify the botany (and modern history) of Yucca: Yucca that is used for ammonia is called yucca schidigera. There are many, many types of Yucca. Yucca schidigera is a desert plant native to southwest US and northwest Mexico.

There is another type of plant called Yuca that is NOT Yucca but is very often confused with it because of the similar spelling. Yuca is native to tropical climates (it's very common in Brazil for example) and the botanical name is manihot esculenta. There is no relation whatsoever to the desert dwelling Yucca, but you will often see Yuca refered to as Yucca (in markets, on menus, on the internet, etc).

This misunderstanding is so widespread, even in the medical community, that my doctor recommended I find "yucca root" at the market and eat it fresh as much as possible for ammonia absorption (in addition to taking it as a supplement, but "fresh is better" she said). This was confusing to me because I know that the only part of yucca that you can eat as food is the flowers (available in farmers markets in Los Angeles in spring/early summer). When I went to Whole Foods I saw they were indeed selling manioc ("mandioca" in Brazil) and had it labled "yucca root"! It's actually a type of cassava and these "sweet" varieties (which are nicknamed Yuca to distinguish them from regular/bitter cassava) are not as toxic as regular cassava (common in Africa), but they still should not be eaten "fresh" as they can also contain some cyanide. (They need long cooking times and/or fermentation).

So if you're buying lots of fresh "yucca" (pronounced yucka) that's actually yuca (pronounce yooka), on the advice of a doctor or not, you don't have to worry about hormone disruption, but you do have to cook it. But it's not going to be helping ammonia, just fyi. It's pure starch and might make you gain weight though.

So where does this idea come from that yucca schidigera helps ammonia? From factory farming. When farmers put a lot of animals in pens, especially pigs, their feces creates ammonia and it causes the animals to get sick when they stand in it. If yucca schidigera is added to their feed, it binds with and traps the ammonia in the feces and prevents if from off gassing into the air so the animals (and workers) aren't constantly breathing it. Whether it's removing ammonia from the body, I'm not sure anyone knows. Its purpose is to bind with the ammonia that's naturally in feces. So your poop will stink less. That's its actual purpose. It's used so widely in industrial farming that it's now grown in China to keep up with the demand.

Now you know more about yucca than you probably ever wanted to.. or at least more than the medical community does!