Wild Yam Dioscorea villosa

Dioscorea villosa
  • Common Names
  • Wild Yam Root , Colic root, rheumatism root
  • Botanical Name
  • Dioscorea villosa
  • Family
  • Dioscoreaceae

Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Wild Yam Root

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How to Use: Wild Yam

Wild yam root is a potent source of diosgenin, a chemical that resembles female sex hormones and was used in the manufacture of the first oral contraceptives. Diosgenin can be transformed in the laboratory into sex steroids and corticosteroids, but research is still very sketchy on the effectiveness of this herb. While diosgenin can be converted into progesterone in the laboratory, it cannot be converted into progesterone in the human body. Wild yam contains no progesterone, natural or otherwise. It is, however, extremely useful for many gynecological complaints. Historically, it appears to support healthy menstrual cycles by lessening pain and cramping. Wild yam's diosgenin, is a precursor in the chemical synthesis of progesterone, a hormone whose numerous functions include uterine health and warding off PMS. Wild yam creams and progesterone creams are applied to thin areas of the skin. Some herbalists believe that this triggers the production of natural progesterone in a woman's body and balances against high levels of estrogen. Though the exact mechanism is not fully known, wild yam has a long history of giving women relief from hot flashes, insomnia, hot flashes, insomnia, cramps, headaches, migraines, and vaginal dryness. It generally takes a period of a few months or more to see results.

Wild yam also contains beta carotene, the antioxidant that is so important to maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. Other colorful folk names include Devil's bones, Yuma, Colic root and Rheumatism root, referring to Native Americans use of the boiled root to treat morning sickness and in childbirth, also arthritis and digestive problems.

Preparation Methods & Dosage :Often taken in capsules, or infusions, the extract is added to creams and ointments.

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Wild Yam Remedies

Wild Yam Side Effects: Can cause stomach upset in large doses. Some preparations of Mexican yam may contain additional progesterone, avoid products that are labeled natural progesterone.as they either contain no progesterone, or they contain synthetic progesterone. Not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.

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Plant Description

This herb is a perennial vine with small greenish-yellow heart shaped leaves and a long, knotted, woody rhizome and root. Wild yam grows wild from New England south to Texas. Another species called Mexican yam is found south of the border in Mexico. There is some confusion of terminology among herbalist on whether these are separate species, or just different common names for the same one.

Regional Traditions :Central and South America *

How to Grow Wild Yam

Wild Yam - Dioscorea villosa, D. spp. is on the United Plant Savers "At Risk" list. Wildcraft this plant responsibly and consider growing it if you have suitable garden space.

Related Species wild Mexican yam Dioscorea mexicana, barbasco de placa

books citedWorks Cited
  1. . Mabey, Richard. "The New Age Herbalist",(1988)