Wild yam has been used for centuries by Native Americans and early Americans for treatment of a variety of ailments. The herb, also known as colic root, has a relaxing effect. As the name suggests, an early use was to relieve colic in babies. Be sure to consult your child’s pediatrician before giving your child any alternative treatment. But there are several other ways that wild yam can be used to improve health.
Menstruation & Menopause Relief
The University of Maryland Medical Center tells us that because of its antispasmodic properties, wild yam is often used to relieve menstrual cramps and pain from endometriosis. Wild yam is also commonly used to help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood changes.
Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Regulation
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, wild yam contains a substance called dioscoretine, which has lowered blood sugar levels in animal studies. In a separate study, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states that a substance contained in wild yam, diosgenin, was shown to be very promising in raising HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and lowering LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).
Another use for wild yam is to aid digestion, an is helpful in alleviating flatulence and generally improving the function of the liver and gall bladder.
Wild yam contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful in treating other ailments, such as asthma, neuritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and for regulating the metabolism. Again, there are no studies that confirm its effectiveness.
Wild yam benefits on health are almost too numerous to count. Although it has a long history of usage as a woman’s herb, it also has several other benefits.
One of its other folk names “colic root” was given because it is very effective in treating colic. The main quality that makes wild yams effective while treating certain ailments is because of its antispasmodic properties. This particular characteristic feature of wild yams helps in relieving spasms including those in the intestines or those brought on by menstrual cramps.
In herbal medicine, wild yam is a remedy that has been used to relieve intestinal colic, soothe diverticulitis as well as ease dysmenorrhea, ovarian and uterine pain. Another of the many wild yam benefits is that it has been greatly employed in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, especially during the acute phase where there is intense inflammation.
Herbs are God and nature’s gifts to us. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has brought excellent results for many people, do note that their health benefits may be limited when they are used in isolation. However, when combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition, the impact on one’s health will be greatly magnified.
Through natural health and healing, we believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases. We also believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man’s understanding. It is thus a good idea to apply these fundamental health steps no matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem.
Traditional herbalists have recommended the wild yam herb for bilious colic, colic with spasmodic contractions, yellow skin and conjunctiva, paroxysmal abdominal pain and stomach problems.
This valuable herb was, at one time, the sole source of chemicals that were originally used as the raw materials for contraceptive hormone manufacture. Wild yam benefits and nourishes, in particular, the female reproductive system.
One of the many wild yam benefits in today’s day and age is to supply nutrients essential for optimal glandular function. It is said to nutritionally benefit the urinary, nervous and respiratory systems, too. Known topical applications of this the wild yam herb include its use as a salve for eczema.
Besides the above, there are several other benefits of wild yam as well as benefits of wild yam extract. Hence, wild yam has been incorporated into a number of creams for women in an attempt to promote hormonal production. More on wild yam creams are discussed in another article.
The primary chemical constituents of wild yam include steroidal saponins (dioscin, which becomes diosgenin), starch, alkaloid and tannins. These contribute to the wild yam benefits on health. It is also considered a mild diaphoretic. The steroidal saponins (such as diosgenin) account for some of the activity of the wild yam herb. Another compound, dioscoretine, has been shown in animal studies to lower blood sugar levels.
Diosgenin is a precursor to progesterone, and was once used to make birth control pills. Wild yam also helps to normalize hormones after an abortion. The wild yam herb in particular is believed to relieve some symptoms related to menopause, decrease water retention and alleviate nausea caused by pregnancy.
Wild yam is probably the most widely used herbal tonic for women’s health. Many women use wild yam for breast enhancement and as a sexual stimulant.
Wild yam has long been used for its benefits in women’s reproductive health, including premenstrual syndrome and menopausal problems. To harness wild yam benefits, it can be taken in capsules or in tea (though there are mixed opinions on the flavor).
Another of the interesting health benefits of wild yam is its role in increasing fertility. While it used to be touted as an anti-fertility treatment and originally, birth control pills were made using this plant, when taken in small doses such as 10 to 20 drops daily from the first day of menstrual bleeding to the middle of the month (ovulation), it has actually been shown to increase fertility.
Whether or not it is correct to say that we can use wild yam to stimulate ovulation is a matter of debate, but it is an established fact that wild yam helps regulate menstrual cycles and makes them more predictable and regular. It is likely that these attributes help increase a woman’s chances of fertility. It is thought that by taking it in the aforementioned small doses, it helps to ready the egg for fertilization.
It has been noted that wild yam contains plant hormone precursors, which help in the production and balancing of progesterone and estrogen. The evidence available suggests that these can sometimes help to prevent and to resolve breast cysts, and may be used as a nutritional support for breast cancer and fibroids. It is also useful for endometrial cancer, fluid retention, weight gain, depression and low thyroid function.
Further evidence suggests that wild yam benefits stress and inflammatory conditions too. Its consumption can normalize the production of the adrenal cortex hormones. The anti-stress and anti-inflammatory hormones (natural steroidal hormones) help prevent inflammation and maintain joint and general structural integrity. This would explain the anti-arthritic, especially relating to rheumatoid arthritis, and anti-rheumatic effects observed traditionally.
Other uses of wild yam have included easing digestion by dilating vessels and stimulating bile flow, as well as contributing to the reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
As you can see, all in all, wild yam benefits health in many ways, in particular on the female reproductive system. Taking it in the right form, in the right measure and at the right time will maximize its full potential and help us reap the real benefits of this amazing herb