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Wild Yam

What Should I Know About It?


Updated May 22, 2014

Dioscorea villosa, Dioscoreaceae, Wild Yam, habitus. The root is used in homeopathy as remedy: Dioscorea villosa (Dios.)
H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

What is Wild Yam?

Other names: Dioscorea villosa

Wild yam is a plant native to North America, Mexico and Asia.

The part used medicinally is the root. The active compound is believed to be diosgenin.

Wild yam is available in oral and topical forms.

Why Do People Use Wild Yam

Traditionally, wild yam was used to help with coughs, morning sickness, digestive upset and nerve pain.

  • Menopause - Although wild yam creams and other preparations are marketed as "natural progesterone", wild yam doesn't contain progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) or estrogen and cannot be converted to these hormones in the body. It requires a chemical conversion that can only take place in the lab.

  • High cholesterol

  • High triglycerides

  • Muscle tension and pain

  • Premenstrual syndrome

  • Abdominal cramps

Side Efeects and Safety Concerns

Large doses of wild yam may cause nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.

People with hormone dependent conditions, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids or cancers of the breast, ovaries, uterus or prostate shouldn't take wild yam. Pregnant or nursing women or children should not take wild yam.

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