Wild yam, commonly known as colic root or Mexican wild yam is native to China and North America. Wild yam, whose botanical name is Dioscorea villosa, is a tuberous vine (and not a root, as it is normally thought) that grows in wet and humid regions. It can be found growing in thickets all over the world, where there is tropical, subtropical and temperate climate. Wild yam and its extract have been used in many countries around the world for its many benefits. Being regarded as a medicinal plant, it has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-rheumatic properties. The roots and rhizomes of the plant are dried and used as medicine. The benefits of this root were known by herbalists as early as the 18th and 19th centuries and it was used to treat many ailments.
Wild yam is available in various health stores in the form of capsules, tablets, tincture, powder and liquid extract. The dosage is determined according to the patient's complaint. Normally the dose prescribed is 40-100 drops (for tincture), thrice in a day. For liquid extract, the dosage is 10 to 40 drops, three to four times a day. This can be taken in juice or water. One or two tablets or capsules can be taken, after consulting the physician or herbalist.
Wild yam is popular as a woman's herb since it has many medicinal properties and is used as a remedy to treat several health disorders and ailments of women.
- Wild yam helps ease abdominal cramps and cramps in the uterus during menstruation. It also helps in regulating the menstrual cycle.
- This herb also helps in alleviating the symptoms caused due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- The extract takes care of the reproductive system and helps increase fertility in women.
- It helps in easing labor pains, to a certain extent.
- Wild yam helps prevent breast and uterine cancer by keeping a check on the growth of cysts and fibroids.
- In some cases, it is used as a sexual stimulant and breast enhancer.
Apart from the above-mentioned properties, wild yam is also quite effective when it comes to treating other maladies. Here are a few disorders which can be relieved with the use of this herb and its supplements.
- Wild yam is considered to be one of the best herbal remedies to treat colic, hence it got the name colic root.
- Muscle aches caused due to overexertion, injury, etc. can be cured with the inclusion of this herb.
- Hypertension can lead to a number of health complications like stroke, congestive heart failure and even cardiac arrest. The use of wild yam is known to prevent and control erratic blood pressure.
- This medicinal plant also helps relieve inflammation, joint pain and swelling, stiffness, etc. caused due to arthritis.
- Conjunctivitis and certain skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema, etc. can be treated with the help of the cream made from wild yam extract.
- It has been found out that wild yam can prevent the formation of kidney stones.
- Wild yam also aids in the proper functioning of the digestive, excretory and nervous systems.
Though there are many positive effects of wild yam root, it may also cause certain mild side effects, in some instances. However, pregnant women and lactating mothers must avoid including this root in their diet, as it may have some unwanted effects on the baby.
- In some women, eating wild yam can give rise to many allergic reactions like rashes or hives.
- A high dose of wild yam may induce nausea and vomiting.
- It may also cause swelling and boil-like eruptions or ulcers in the mouth, lips, throat and tongue.
- The individual may also experience certain breathing problems like labored breathing or shortness of breath.
- Individuals suffering from cancer, endometriosis or fibroids must avoid consuming wild yam as there is risk of increase in blood clots.
- Including wild yam in your diet while you are on birth control pills, is not advisable. Wild yam has a natural steroid called diosgenin, which reacts with estriol that is present in the body, resulting in it destroying the effect of the pills.
Taking wild yam root and its supplements will be beneficial as it will help you reap the benefits of good health and prevent diseases. But remember to include this herb only in prescribed amounts. In case of an overdose, consult a health care provider who may prescribe medication to control the negative effects of this herb. Take care!
**Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.