Wild Yam Root- Side Effects and Benefits

Botanical Name of Wild Yam: Dioscorea villosa

Other Common Names: Colic root, Aluka, China Root Devil's-bones, Mexican Wild Yam, Rheumatism Root, Shan-yao, Wild Yam, Yuma.

Habitat: Wild Yam is native to North and Central America. It has become naturalized to many tropical, subtropical and temperate areas throughout the world. This perennial, twining vine grows in damp woodlands and thickets. This plant thrives in sunny conditions and rich soil.

Plant Description: Wild yam is a tuberous, twining vine with pale-brown, knotty, woody, cylindrical tubers. The tubers are crooked and bear horizontal branches. They have a thin reddish stem that grows to a length of over 9.2 meter. This plant produces clusters of greenish-white or greenish-yellow flowers. The leaves, which are heart shaped, have a smooth top surface and downy under-surface.

Plant Parts Used: The roots and rhizome are dried and used for medicinal purposes.

Therapeutic Uses of Wild Yam and Claims

* Traditionally this herb was used to treat colic and rheumatism, and may have been used by the Mayan and Aztec to treat pain.
* Wild Yam’s antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory actions make it useful in treating symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. These same qualities make it useful in treating cramps and muscular pain.
* It has also been used to treat digestive disorders including gallbladder inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and diverticulitis.
* The combination of its diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects makes it a good choice for urinary tract conditions.
* Wild yam contains a compound called Diosgenin, which is used in birth control pills and other steroid hormones. This supports the idea that wild yam may help regulate female sex hormones and it is considered a good herb for many of the symptoms associated with menopause.
* This herb has also been shown to lower blood pressure (temporarily) and cholesterol levels in the blood.
* Wild yam has also been shown to benefit the spleen, kidneys, lungs, and stomach.

Dosage and Administration

Wild yam is available as a tincture, liquid extract, powder extract, or in tablet or capsule form. The common dosage for this supplement is 2-3 mL (40-100 drops) of the tincture three to four times a day. The capsules or tablets may be taken in a dosage of one or two taken three times per day. The liquid extract should be taken at a dosage of 10-40 drops three to four times per day.

Side Effects and Possible Interactions of Wild Yam

Wild yam is generally safe but some people have experienced nausea when taking large doses. Its safety has not been tested in pregnant or lactating females or in young children. Wild yam contains dioscorin, which can be toxic in large amounts, it is important to stay within the recommended doses. Wild yam has been shown to interact with estradiol, a hormone used in some birth control medications and other hormone therapies.

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