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Wild Yam Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Wild Yam Root


The botanical name of Wild Yam Root is Dioscora villosa and other common names are Aluka, Colic root, China Root Devil’s-bones, Rheumatism Root, Mexican Wild Yam, Yuma, Wild Yam, and Shan-yao. Wild Yam plant, the source of Wild Yam Root is a twining vine with pale-brown, woody, and knotty, cylindrical tubers. The crooked tubers bear horizontal branches and the stems are thin and reddish that grows over nine meters in length.

Wild Yam plants produce bunches of greenish-yellow or greenish-white flowers and the heart-shaped leaves are smooth on top and velvety on the other side. Wild Yam Root and rhizome are the parts of the plants that are used for medicinal purposes.

History and Origin

Wild Yam is a plant that is resident to Central and North America. It has also been cultivated in many temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions throughout the world. This plant grows in rich soil and sunny weather. Wild Yam Root and bulb are used as a great source of diosgenin that are made into different kinds of steroids such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and estrogen.

There are more than 600 varieties of Wild Yam and some are particularly used in laboratories for making steroids. Out of the 600 varieties, only twelve are considered fit for human consumption.
Wild Yam Root has an extensive account of application as a women’s herb. Wild Yam Root can be in use in diverse forms such as a cream and in capsules.

Ancient Uses

One of the earliest beneficial uses of Wild Yam Root was its effectiveness as a remedy for colic. It was considered an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, therefore, capable of relieving spasms in the intestines and those caused by menstrual cramps, rheumatism, and arthritis. Other beneficial use of Wild Yam Root is its ability to help with menopausal symptoms. However, although it has helped many women in the past, there are still no proven lab tests to back up this claim.

Modern Uses

Wild Yam Root is used to treat digestive disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation of the gallbladder, and diverticulitis. It is also best for urinary tract ailments due to its anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects.

Diosgenin in Wild Yam Root is used in steroid hormones and birth control pills. This attribute sustains the idea that Wild Yam Root is capable of regulating the female sex hormones and can be a good herb for the many symptoms of menopause.

Wild Yam Root is helpful in temporarily lowering a person’s blood pressure and lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood stream. It is also seen to be beneficial in maintaining the health of the kidneys, spleen, stomach, and lungs.

Side Effects

If you are on birth control medication, it might not be advisable to take Wild Yam Root since it might make your birth control ineffective. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not advisable for you take Wild Yam Root. There are also cases in which negative reactions occurred with people having protein S deficiency and with hormone-sensitive conditions, therefore, avoid using Wild Yam Root until more research has been done in the treatment of your particular ailment.

Read also: Maca Root

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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