Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)

Wild yam

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) is a climbing vine with twisted, brown rhizome. It has reddish stem that is long and thin. It has ovate, broad and small flowers with hues of green. It is known to contain healing properties in its roots. It is used to relieve pain. Then later, Native Americans and early colonists used it to treat joint pain and colic that it became known as ‘colic root’. Currently, wild yam is being used as herbal alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms. The recent practice of rubbing wild yam cream into belly, thighs or other soft areas to relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menopause has no sound scientific basis yet. Although wild yams in other formulation do appear to relax muscles and reduce inflammation. These properties are partly due to the substances called alkaloids, which is why it is used to provide temporary relief from menstrual cramps, endometriosis and digestive problems. Wild yam plant produces large tubers that are similar to potatoes but it is not related to sweet potatoes or true yams.

Health benefits associated with using wild yam include the following:

It is used for rheumatic conditions

To treat bilious colic

Provides relief to dysmenorrheal, nausea and menstrual cramps. It is thought to relieve menopausal symptoms although this is under debate.

It is anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, antispasmodic and mild diaphoretic.

Wild yam formulation include: capsule, pill, tea, tincture and lotion or cream for external purposes. You should consider these tips in choosing wile yam extract supplement:

Choose wild yam extract supplement that is from standardized extracts. These extracts are potent and contain the highest therapeutic benefits.

Purchase wild yam supplements at reputable companies to ensure the best quality of products.

Image courtesy of Wendell Smith

Dosages of wild yam will depend on the type and severity of the ailment. But for general treatment purposes, this dosage is safe: Decoction/fluid extract – 2 to 4 ml/day

To make decoction or tea: use 1-2 tsp root to one cup water, simmer for 15 minutes three times a day.

Generally, it is safe to consult a doctor first if you are taking progesterone and/or estrogen. There are no known drugs or nutrient interactions associated with wild yam. There is also no toxicity reported with the use of wild yam. But rare cases of nausea and diarrhea have been reported if taken in excessive dosage. As a precaution, you should take wild yam pills or tincture with food to reduce the risk of stomach upset. Very high doses may result to nausea and diarrhea. Pregnant women should refrain from taking wild yam until its benefits or side effects could be ascertained.

To treat endometriosis, take ½ tsp of liquid extract of wild yam twice daily.

To treat acute kidney stones, drink ½ tsp of liquid extract mixed in warm water for every 15 minutes until it subsided. Stop when the pain-free or when stone is gone. Do not drink more than 8 doses in a span of 24 hours.

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