In some countries, yam is a name for a type of sweet reddish potato, but it is not in any way related to wild yam, the North American and Central American wild plant that was first used by the Asteci and Maya as a pain reliever. Afterwards, European settlers used it to treat pain in the joints and abdominal cramps. The root has therapeutic properties have roots and is usually dried and sold for tea making, but there are also other forms.
How does it work?
People often talk about the ability of yam to mimic the action of some hormones (especially progesterone) and relieve the symptoms of menopause and PMS. Most of these claims, however, have not been scientifically confirmed. It is true that wild yam contains diosgenin, a substance that can be transformed into progesterone under laboratory conditions, but this change does not happen in the body.
Some therapists who practice holistic approach mention that the use of wild yam creams on the soft areas on the body (belly and thighs) works well in people suffering from symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The mechanism of this action is unknown. Manufacturers of creams sometimes add synthetic progesterone and it may be responsible for at least part of the effect. Although the patients are talking about beneficial effects, the effect of the creams of pure wild yam needs to be scientifically confirmed.
Any form of wild yam still has a therapeutic effect. Some herbalists believe that a raw plant can help correct the disturbed hormone-related balance associated with PMS and menopause because it contains substances similar to estrogens. Wild yam also relaxes the muscles, relieves spasms and has anti-inflammatory effects, all of which can explain its beneficial effect on alleviating menstrual problems in some women.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: wild yam contains alkaloids that relax the muscles, especially the abdomen and pelvic. It may, therefore, be useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Wild yam also mitigates menstrual cramps and pains in endometriosis. In some women, this plant in combination with other herbal preparations (such as vitex) is particularly effective in alleviating the symptoms of PMS. The effect is the result of hormone balance and anti-inflammatory activity.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: wild yam contains active ingredients called steroidal saponins and can play a role in calming stretched muscles and alleviating chronic muscular and arthritic pain.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: to get a therapeutic dose of active substances of wild yam, take half a teaspoonful of tinctures two or three times a day, or take 500mg of wild yam in the form of a capsule, tablet or soft capsule two times a day. If you want, you can drink a cup of tea from this plant three times a day.
USE GUIDELINES: to reduce the risk of stomach irritation, take dietary supplements or tinctures with food. To prepare the tea, you need to pour a cup of hot water over one to two teaspoons of dried plant and wait for about 15 minutes. To relieve digestive problems, you can also add some soothing herbal preparations (such as valerian or peppermint) in your tea.
Possible side effects
Very high doses of dietary supplements or tinctures of wild yam can cause nausea and diarrhea.
IMPORTANT: pregnant women should not take wild yam preparations.