What Is Wild Yam Good For?

Medically Reviewed on 8/24/2022
Wild Yam
Although wild yam is a natural product, it does not imply it is without adverse effects.

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), is a plant that belongs to the family Dioscoreaceae. It is also called Colic, China or rheumatism root, American yam, and barbasco.

Wild yam is a vine native to North America, Latin America (particularly Mexico), and parts of Asia.

For centuries, the root and bulb have been used as a medical herb, and the plant has lately gained interest as a potential plant-based therapy for a variety of hormone-related issues. Diosgenin is a potent steroidal component present in wild yam.

10 health benefits of wild yam

  1. Improves digestion
    • Some herbalists believe that wild yam improves digestion by enhancing gall bladder and liver function.
    • These two organs play an important role in digestion by stimulating the generation of bile and aiding digestion.
    • Historically, it was used to help tiny gallstones pass.
    • However, extensive research regarding this aspect is not done to confirm the claims.
  2. May improve arthritis
    • Research has reported that the steroidal glycoside, diosgenin, has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Higher doses of diosgenin are known to alleviate pain.
    • This supports the historic usage of wild yam as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis-related joint inflammation.
    • The hormone estrogen improves bone density and prevents osteoporosis. The estrogen-like properties of the wild yam prevent osteoporosis.
  3. Regulates blood sugar
    • Research has reported that wild yam may help manage blood sugar due to the chemical called dioscoretine.
    • Animal studies discovered that when rabbits with diabetes were administered dioscoretine derived from tubers, their blood sugar levels were reduced.
  4. May prevent cancer
    • While more study is needed, the researchers discovered that the rhizome of the wild yam plant, which generates the primary chemical dioscin, has antiproliferative effects on leukemia cells.
    • Other studies have suggested that wild yam extract functions as a weak phytoestrogen and protects against proliferation in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells.
    • In Northern Japan, wild yam is used as a health food and supplement that may prevent cancer.
  5. Improves blood cholesterol levels
    • Research has reported that diosgenin may help enhance good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol while lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad) cholesterol.
    • During an animal study, rats were fed wild yam for a week to see if diosgenin inhibited cholesterol absorption, and it was later reported that the rats had a higher HDL-to-LDL ratio.
    • Another study on mice and rats shows that supplementing with wild yam may be effective in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.
  6. May relieve PMS symptoms
  7. May alleviate menopausal symptoms
    • Wild yam may be advantageous to menopausal women due to its potential to have an estrogen-like impact on the body.
    • As women approach menopause, their estrogen levels fall. Low estrogen levels can cause symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood changes, and reduced bone density.
    • Hormone replacement treatment is frequently recommended for women approaching menopause although it can have negative side effects, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or breast cancer.
    • In the limited scientific investigations on wild yam for menopause, consuming it orally was more helpful than using a topical ointment.
  8.  Relieves the symptoms of diverticulosis
    • Diverticulosis, a digestive condition where tiny pouches develop on the colon wall, may be improved by wild yam.
    • Diverticulitis occurs when they get inflamed, can be quite painful, and lead to constipation, diarrhea, and even fever.
    • Antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of wild yam may help alleviate discomfort produced by the inflamed region.
  9. May reduce photoaging
    • Photoaging is a condition where skin cells are damaged when they are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sunlight. This condition may even lead to skin cancer.
    • Studies have suggested that diosgenin in wild yam extract has a depigmenting effect. It may assist with conditions, including melasma, melanodermatitis, and solar lentigo, all of which lead to hyperpigmentation.
  10. May aid with fertility in women
    • The hormone-like characteristics of wild yam can help with conception.
    • Hormonal abnormalities are one of the numerous causes that might contribute to infertility.
    • Wild yam may aid in the optimization of estrogen levels, as well as the relief of oviductal and fallopian tube spasms, which can prevent pregnancy.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

What are the potential side effects and contraindications of wild yam?

Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet examined wild yam for therapeutic use, there is limited information on its safety and adverse effects.

Although wild yam is a natural product, it does not imply it is without adverse effects. Wild yam is deemed safe for most individuals in small amounts. However, excessive use of wild yam may result in the following negative effects:


  • Due to the possibility of estrogenic effects, women with hormone-dependent illnesses should not consume or use wild yam. They include:
  • Pregnant women should avoid taking wild yam because it might cause the uterus to contract, which may result in a miscarriage.
  • Because there is limited evidence on how wild yam may impact a newborn or young kid, it is not suggested to use it while breastfeeding or throughout early childhood.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 8/24/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Wild Yam. https://hhma.org/healthadvisor/ma-wildyam-ma/

Wild Yam Cream, Diosgenin, and Natural Progesterone: What Can They Really Do for You? https://nwhn.org/wild-yam-cream-diosgenin-and-natural-progesterone-what-can-they-really-do-for-you/

Wild Yam - Uses, Side Effects, and More. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-970/wild-yam