Wild Yam Root Proves Powerful in Herbal Therapy

Loose wild yam root

Also known by its scientific genus name Dioscorea, it is a plethora of interrelated tuber plants found in the Latin America, Asia, and Africa, with ten that are edible yams. This yam serves as an important nutritional source of a complex, starchy carbohydrate staple in various regions of the world, which is also rich in some essential amino acids and minerals and has several known medicinal uses.

Wild yam is an edible nutritious carbohydrate rich food that has traditionally been and continues to be used in homeopathic medicine for a plethora of symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome, menopause, hormonal imbalances, and digestive issues whilst exposing some rather exciting new avenues of potential use in terms of arthritis, chronic disease and cancer.

 Wild Yam Root, made into Tea, Helps in PMS

Health Notes and Benefits 

Menopause, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and hormonal support

This little tuber has traditionally been used for hormone support, and has also garnered interest by people looking for more traditional methods of ameliorating conditions such  menopause, PMS symptoms during menstrual shedding, as well as an increase in sex drive.

It is true that the active diosgenin which is a steroidal saponin that chemically resembles cholesterol, can be manipulated in the laboratory to make cortisol, DHEA, estrogen and progesterone. The human body does not actually possess the enzyme activity necessary to create these hormones when consumed. In fact, in the 1960’s, diosgenin was used in the laboratory to manufacture the first known birth control pills. 

Conversely, Wild Yam is most definitely a potent antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory agent, frequently prescribed by herbalists to alleviate menstrual cramps and chronic pelvic pain. Helping the uterus to work more efficiently during menses, this uterine support allows for proper function of the uterus whilst working to prevent cramping and spasms.  

It remains sought after in the homeopathic community to help with hormonal balance, PMS, menopause, and to seriously increase sex drive.

 Wild yam root- displayed and chopped

Arthritis

Wild Yam is habitually used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and it has shown efficacy in studies to be anti-inflammatory and also lessen nerve pain.

Remarkably, these studies show that diosgenin isolated from wild yam root aids in subsiding the progression of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, in one 30-day study, orally administering 91 mg of wild yam extract per pound of body weight each day significantly reduced markers of inflammation — and even higher doses of 182 mg per pound lowered nerve pain.


Cancer

There are bioactive compounds called saponins comprising these tubers, which exhibit antioxidant activity that contribute to aging, cell damage and mutagenesis. In-vitro or test tube studies using alcohol-derived plant extracts on cancer cell lines, have shown that they are efficacious at being cytotoxic against various cancers while preserving healthy cells in culture.

Chronic Disease

There is also evidence that suggests the active ingredient among potentially other compounds within the wild yam, have antidiabetic, hypoglycemic effects that may benefit those suffering from diabetes. These extracts also exhibit the potential to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and so may benefit those with atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia or high blood lipid levels and heart disease.

Many debate over the effectiveness of this herb in women’s health – there is simply no denying that this amazing tuber has long been promoted as a source of natural progesterone for good reason. It is said to aid in menopausal indications due to foundational encomia to the steroid hormone “diosgenin”; though diosgenin does not directly have any understood hormonal activity and does not seem to be converted to any hormones the body can use.

Notwithstanding the argument, some research has indicated that Wild Yam is beneficial for menopausal women. One study of 22 menopausal women who consumed this tuber for one month presented enhanced status of sex hormones, lipids and antioxidants. The research also ventured this may decrease the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease in post-menopausal women; although the function is not yet clear, we sometimes must trust that mother nature really does know best.

  PEACE TEA, with wild yam root and dong quai root

Wild Yam Root contains diosgenin, which can provide hormonal support for the body. Endorsed as a natural alternative, you will see wild yam used for estrogen replacement therapy, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menstrual cramps, weak bones (osteoporosis) and breast enlargement.


References

Jesus, M., Martins, A., Gallardo, E., & Silvestre, S. (2016). Diosgenin: Recent Highlights on Pharmacology and Analytical Methodology. Retrieved February 01, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5225340/

McGrane, K. (2020). Does Wild Yam Root Have Any Benefits? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/wild-yam-root#health-claims

Wild Yam: MedlinePlus Supplements. Retrieved February 01, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/970.html#Safety

Obidiegwu, J., Lyons, J., & Chilaka, C. (2020, September 16). The Dioscorea Genus (Yam)-An Appraisal of Nutritional and Therapeutic Potentials. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/9/9/1304/htm

Salehi, B., Sener, B., Kilic, M., Sharifi-Rad, J., Naz, R., Yousaf, Z., . . . Santini, A. (2019). Dioscorea Plants: A Genus Rich in Vital Nutra-pharmaceuticals-A Review. Retrieved February 01, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7393038/

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa): Plant Profiler. (2021). Retrieved February 01, 2021, from https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/life-science/nutrition-research/learning-center/plant-profiler/dioscorea-villosa.html