Wild Yam Root and Herb Benefits

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Dioscorea villosa L. Dioscoreaceae (Yams)

COMMON NAME(S): Wild yam root, colic root, yuma, devil's bones,rheumatism root, China root

You might think that wild yam is some kind of sweet-potato-flavored salsa dish at the local nouveau American eatery. Luckily, it's not. A true yam (meaning it is unrelated to sweet potatoes), wild yam is derived from the long, twisting roots or rhizome of a perennial vine native to North America. In the early 1940s an American scientist in Mexico found that a related species (D. mexicana, barbasco or Mexican yam) was an unexpected plant source for a saponin, diosgenin, that could be used to make progesterone in the lab. Diosgenin was thus useful in the manufacture of synthetic hormone products, such as birth control pills, progesterone creams, and other medicines. This application soon made Mexican yam at least temporarily the source for some of the most widely used drugs in the world. Other plants (notably soy) have since overtaken Mexican yam as the source for hormone precursors. Wild yam is now a popular herb for alleviating menstrual cramps , uterine pain , and gynecological conditions.


Wild yam was popularized by the Eclectic medical movement in the 19th century for its supposed antispasmodic properties and prescribed for biliary colic and spasm of the bowel.More recently,it has been promoted for the relief of nausea in pregnancy,and for amenorrhoea and dysmenorrhea. Wild yam use for urinary tract infections, rheumatoid arthritis, cholera, nervous excitement, and gas expulsion have been reported.

Botany :- D. villosa is a twining vine native to the central southeastern US and found less frequently in the Appalachian region. It is a dioecious plant with inconspicuous white to greenish yellow female flowers and smooth heart shaped leaves. A Chinese species, Dioscorea opposita Thunb., is also occasionally found in herbal commerce. There are more than 500 species of Dioscorea worldwide.

Uses of Wild Yam

Dioscorea has been promoted for the treatment of menstrual dysfunction, nausea in pregnancy, urinary tract infections, rheumatoid arthritis, cholera, nervous excitement, and gas expulsion.

Side Effects of Wild Yam

In large doses, D. villosa root may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Up to 2-3 ml of wild yam tincture can be taken three to four times per day. Alternatively, 1 gram of dried, powdered root can be taken three times each day

Warnings :- Wild yam contains dioscorin, a substance that can be toxic, it is particularly important to stay within the recommended dosages.

In large doses, D. villosa root may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

© Natural-Medicinal-Herbs.Com. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer :- The information contained in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Readers should not use this information for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, but should always consult a medical professional regarding any medical problems and before undertaking any major dietary changes. We will not be liable for any complications or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any information on this web site.