A perennial vine plant with heart-shaped leaves that have hairs on their undersides, wild yam grows wild in moist, wooded areas. You can find it from southern New England to Tennessee and westward to Texas.
Wild yam is sometimes called "colic root" or "rheumatism root" because of its antispasmodic properties. As a result, it is often used in herbal remedies to treat stomach and other cramps.
Uses for Wild Yam
Dioscorea is a large genus that comprises more than 600 species. Wild yam's antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties make it useful to treat cramps in the stomach, intestines, and bile ducts, particularly the wavelike cramping pain caused by an intestinal virus or bacteria -- what we might call stomach flu, or colic in babies.
Wild yam also is appropriate for flatulence and dysentery with cramps, especially if the conditions are caused by excess stomach acid. The hormonal activity of wild yam has given it a reputation as a treatment for menstrual discomforts and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
A compound in wild yam, called diosgenin, is used as the basis for synthesizing several steroids, including progesterone and estrogen. However, diosgenin can be manufactured into progesterone only in the laboratory; the human body can't make that conversion. For this reason, diosgenin is better used as an antispasmodic.
In the next section, you will learn how to prepare wild yam for herbal remedies and some of the potentially dangerous side effects.
To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:
- For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
- To learn more about treating medical conditions at home, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- One of the best things you can do for your health and well being is to make sure you are getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs. Visit our Vitamins page to learn more.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.