- Origin: North and Central America
- Scientific name: Dioscorea villosa
- Other common names: wild Mexican yam, colic root, rheumatism root, Chinese yam, shan yao
- Part used: roots and rhizome are dried and used for medicinal purposes.
- Properties: Cholagogue, antispasmodic, diaphoretic.
- Organ it affects: muscles, joints, uterus, liver and gallbladder.
Wild yam is a perennial, twining vine with pale-brown, woody, cylindrical tubers. The tubers are crooked and bear horizontal branches of long creeping runners. It has a reddish-brown stems that grows to a length of 5 to 12 meters.
Wild yam has a small greenish-white or greenish yellow flower and the heart-shaped leaves are long and broad with prominent veins. The upper surface of the leaves is smooth while the underside is downy.
The roots and rootstock (rhizomes) of yam are used as herbal remedy. The roots initially taste starchy, but soon after taste bitter and acrid. Wild yam is different from yams and sweet potatoes that are normally eaten as food.
Available forms: tincture, liquid extract, cream, gels powder extract, or in tablet or capsule form. Some creams made from wild yam have synthetic (man-made) progesterone added to them, but most sellers don’t advertise this, if they do it is often mentioned as “natural progesterone.”
It is important to note that neither estrogen nor progesterone can be found in wild yams, although these yams may contain compounds that are somewhat similar to a weak estrogen.
Health Benefits of Wild Yam:
- Wild yam has diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects which makes it a good choice for urinary tract conditions.
- Wild yam is used for a variety of female problems, including premenstrual syndrome and menopause-related symptoms. A salve made from wild yam is a good substitute for estrogen creams used as vaginal lubricants.
- Wild yam relaxes muscle spasms and is valuable for colic, bowel spasms, abdominal cramps and menstrual cramps.
- Wild yam when used externally can help speed the healing of boils and abscesses.
- Wild yam has anti-inflammatory property that is why herbalists prescribe it for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Wild yam promotes perspiration and reduces fever.
- Wild yam combined with other blood cleansers, will aid in removing wastes from the system, and relieving stiff and sore joints.
- Wild yam strengthens the function of the gallbladder and liver.
- Wild yam stimulates the flow of bile to the duodenum, a part of the small intestine.
- Wild yam has also been shown to lower blood pressure (temporarily) and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Preparation and Dosage:
- Decoction: Simmer 5 -15 minutes. Take 2-3 oz in water 3-4 times daily, up to 2 cups per day.
- Tincture: Take 10-40 drops 3-4 times a daily.
- Fluid extract: Take 1 tsp. 3-4 times daily
- Powder: Take 5-10 capsules 3-4 times daily.
- Wild yam is generally safe but some people have experienced nausea when taking large doses, it is important to stay within the recommended dosage as large amounts can be toxic.
- 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.
- Wild yam has been shown to interact with estradiol, a hormone used in some birth control medications and other hormone therapies.
- Wild yam is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.