Wild Yam – Review the Latest Research

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Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) is a plant in the Dioscoreaceae family. It's also known as Colic, China or rheumatism root, American yam, and barbasco.

Wild yams are indigenous to North America, Latin America (particularly Mexico), and some parts of Asia.

Since the beginning of time, the bulb and its root have been utilized as a medicinal herb, and the plant has recently gained attention as a possible treatment using plants to treat a myriad of hormone-related disorders. Diosgenin is a potent steroidal compound found within wild yam.

The 10 benefits to the health of wild yam

  1. Improves digestion
    • Certain herbalists believe that wild yam can improve digestion by improving gall bladder and liver function.
    • Both organs play a crucial part in digestion by stimulating bile production and aiding digestion.
    • In the past, it was utilized to aid in the passage of gallstones.
    • Yet, extensive studies on this issue haven't been done to verify the assertions.
  2. May improve arthritis
    • The results of the research have revealed that diosgenin, a steroidal glycoside, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Diosgenin in higher doses is believed to ease pain.
    • This is in line with the long-standing use of wild yams to treat arthritis-related joint inflammation caused by rheumatoid.
    • The hormone estrogen boosts bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis. Wild yams, with their estrogen-like properties, can also prevent osteoporosis.
  3. Regulates blood sugar levels
    • Research has shown that wild yams can help control blood sugar through chemical differentiation.
    • Research conducted on animals showed that when diabetic rabbits were given discretized tubers, their blood sugar levels decreased.
  4. Could help stop cancer
    • Although more research is required, the researchers found that the rhizome of wild yam plants that produce dioscin as the leading chemical is antiproliferative to leukemia cells.
    • Some studies have also suggested that the wild yam extract acts as a mild phytoestrogen that helps to prevent the proliferation of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.
    • Then, in Northern Japan, wild yam is a well-being food supplement and can help prevent cancer.
  5. Increases blood cholesterol levels
    • Research has revealed that diosgenin could help boost good HDL (HDL) cholesterol and reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad) cholesterol.
    • In an animal study, rodents were given wild yams for a week to test whether diosgenin impeded cholesterol absorption. It was later revealed that rats had a better HDL-to-LDL ratio.
    • Another study on mice and rats shows that supplementing with wild yam may effectively treat hypercholesterolemia.
  6. It might help ease PMS symptoms.
    • The estrogen-like properties of wild yam may help alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
    • In the past, it was employed in treating menstrual dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).
    • Wild yam is believed to provide antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory benefits in the uterine muscle.
  7. Menopausal symptoms may be lessened.
    • Wild yam could benefit women going through menopausal cycles because of its ability to exert an estrogen-like effect on the human body.
    • As women reach menopause as they age, their estrogen levels drop. The low levels of estrogen can trigger symptoms like dryness in the vagina, hot flashes and mood swings, and decreased bone density.
    • Treatment for hormone replacement is typically advised for women who are approaching menopausal. Still, it is not without risk of harmful adverse effects, like the risk of increasing breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
    • In the small amount of research on the use of wild yam in menopausal issues, eating it orally proved more effective than applying an ointment to the skin.
  8. Helps alleviate the symptoms of diverticulosis.
    • Diverticulosis is a digestive problem that causes small pouches in the colon's wall. It can be treated with wild yam.
    • Diverticulitis happens when they become damaged. It can be extremely painful and may cause constipation, diarrhea, and sometimes fever.
    • Antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of wild yam could help relieve the discomfort caused by inflammation in the area.
  9. May reduce photoaging
    • Photoaging refers to a condition in which skin cells suffer damage when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This can cause skin cancer.
    • Research has suggested that diosgenin, found in wild yam extract, can affect depigmentation. It can also help with conditions like melasma, melanodermatitis, and solar lentigo, all of which can cause hyperpigmentation.
  10. Can aid with fertility issues for women
    • The hormone-like properties of wild yams can assist in the process of conception.
    • Hormonal imbalances are among the many reasons that can cause infertility.
    • Wild yam could help optimize estrogen levels and alleviate fallopian tube and oviductal spasms, which can help prevent pregnancy.

What are the possible adverse effects and contraindications of wild yam?

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet examined wild yam for its therapeutic potential, There is a lack of information about its safety and potential adverse effects.

While wild yam is an all-natural product, that does not mean it's without dangers. Wild yam is safe for most people in small quantities. However, overuse of wild yam could cause negative consequences:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Allergy reactions
    • Hives
    • Trouble breathing
    • The lips are swelling, as is the tongue


  • Because of the potential estrogenic effects, females suffering from hormone-related diseases should not consume or utilize wild yams. These include:
    • Endometriosis
    • Uterine fibroids
    • Breast cancer in the uterus, ovaries, or breast
  • Women expecting a baby should stay clear of wild yams as it could cause the uterus to shrink and result in miscarriage.
  • There isn't much evidence of the impact of wild yam on babies or toddlers. It is not recommended to consume it while nursing or during the early years of a child's life.
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