16 Best Benefits Of Wild Yams

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Wild yams have been in use for thousands of years, but it is only in modern times that we can recognize the full potential of this healthy vegetable and herbal supplement.

What Are Wild Yams?

Wild yams are the wild variety of commonly known sweet potatoes and go by the scientific name Dioscorea villosa. There are more than 600 varieties of wild yam, but only a dozen or so are considered edible. However, their tubers are valuable due to a chemical compound found inside called diosgenin. This compound is a precursor to certain steroidal hormones such as progesterone, that is important for boosting the female reproductive health. While extracts and tinctures from this vegetable have long been used in traditional medicine, there’s still some debate about the efficacy of raw wild yam on the body. Using wild yam cream on the skin is also believed to be an effective anti-inflammatory medicine.

Benefits of Wild Yams

There is a wide variety of benefits of wild yams, including the ability to relieve symptoms of PMS, prevent osteoporosis, increase energy and sexual desire in both men and women, and treat gallbladder problems, among many others.

A bunch of wild yam roots on a wooden table

Yam roots have an earthy taste that can be highlighted in many ways. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Control blood sugar levels
  • Help to lower your risk of breast cancers
  • Keep your cholesterol levels in check
  • Reduce signs of aging based on some exposure
  • Relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as cramping
  • Aid in the treatment of gallbladder problems
  • Prevent infertility and miscarriage
  • Lower pain
  • Antispasmodic abilities
  • Lower the risk of dysfunctional or painful labor
  • Reduce afterbirth pain
  • Prevent vomiting during pregnancy
  • Relieve nausea and mood swings
  • Minimize menopausal symptoms
  • Lower risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Help treat diverticulosis

Uses

  • In modern supplemental medicine, wild yam is available in herbal capsule, tincture and supplement form.
  • To have an effect, the compounds in wild yam need to be processed in a laboratory in order to be effective.
  • Some herbalists still recommend extracts from this vegetable tuber for their patients.
  • At times, extracts from this vegetable have been used as an alternative option for estrogen therapy.

That being said, if you believe that you are struggling with fertility or other reproductive health issues, it is best to speak with your doctor before trying any herbal options. It is important to understand that the body cannot convert the compounds in wild yam into estrogen within the body.

Wild Yam Side Effects

There are a number of side effects of using this extract that you should be aware of, including the following:

  • Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Wild yam extract may cause complications during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Cancer: If you are struggling with hormone-related cancer such as uterine cancer or ovarian cancer, speak to your doctor before using any herbal supplements. This extract could make the symptoms worse.
  • Blood clots: There is also some worry that consuming wild yam extract can cause blood clots, which may be a problem for people with bleeding disorders.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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