Vitamin supplements guide   Vitamins & health supplements guide

 
Wild yam quick review
Botanical description: a perennial vine with a pale brown, cylindrical, twisted rhizome and a thin, redbrown, woolly stem up to 12 meters long.
Health benefits: used for treating menstrual cramps, hot flashes and headaches associated with menopause.
Side effects: large doses of wild yam may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
 
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Wild yam


Wild yam is a perennial vine with a pale brown, cylindrical, twisted rhizome and a thin, redbrown, woolly stem up to 12 meters long. Wild yam grows in moist thickets, trailing over adjacent shrubs and bushes. This plant has oval, shiny leaves with fine hair on the underneath side and produces greenish-yellow flowers. The small, greenish-yellow flowers are produced from June to July, the male flowers being borne in drooping clusters about 3 to 6 inches long and the female flowers in drooping, spikelike heads. The heart-shaped leaves are long and broad and long-stemmed, with prominent veins. The upper surface of the leaves is smooth while the underside is downy. The thin reddish-brown stems grow to a length of over 30 feet. The fruit, which is a yellowish-green 3-lobed capsule, ripens in September and remains on the vine for some time during the winter. The rootstocks are crooked, and bear horizontal branches of long creeping runners. The tuberous rhizome is a pale brown, cylindrical, and twisted. Wild yam is also known as Dioscorea villosa, China root, Mexican yam, colic root, devil's bones, rheumatism root, yuma, and rheumatism root.
 

Medicinal uses and health benefits of wild yam


Wild yam may provide benefits for treating menstrual cramps, hot flashes and headaches associated with menopause. Wild yam
has estrogenlike and progestinlike properties and may be a precursor to another hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The rhizome contains saponins, which are used as a precursor for the manufacture of cortisone, estrogen, and progesterone-like compounds. The outer bark of the wild yam root is high in saponins, including dioscin or diosgenin, as well as such alkaloids as dioscorin. Wild yam also contains estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens that aid with some manifestations of menopause, such as osteoporosis and high blood cholesterol. Wild yam may have antioxidant properties and to aid with inflammation and muscle spasms. Traditionally, it has been used to treat inflammation, muscle spasms and a range of disorders including asthma. Wild yam is helpful to the liver and the endocrine system. It is also used in regulation of the female system, particularly during menopause and menstrual distress, as well as used in treating infertility. Wild yam is also indicated for digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, bilious colic, digestive colic and cramping.
 

Side effects, precautions, interactions


Large doses of wild yam may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Pregnant or breast-feeding woman should not take wild yam because of the risk of birth defects or spontaneous abortion. Patients with hormone imbalances, depression, or hormone-sensitive cancers should avoid wild yam.