Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Wild yam is a trailing vine that climbs over anything nearby, growing to 15 or more feet long. It has a smooth stem and heart-shaped leaves with very noticeable veins running lengthwise on them. The root runs horizontally underground, forming light brown tubers that are white and fibrous inside. They are edible and medicinal. Yam is native to the eastern half of North America. It can be found in swamps, woods and thickets.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Wild yam has been used for centuries to treat menstrual cramps, to help with childbirth pain, postpartum pain and morning sickness. Some women claim it works as a birth control herb. Others use yam during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle to promote fertility.
In some countries, yam is considered to be a sexual tonic for men and to aid fertility in men. It is also used for inflammation, osteoporosis, menopause, colic in infants, rheumatoid arthritis and urinary tract infections. Yam is also used by some people for high cholesterol, but more studies are needed to prove its usefulness in this area.
This herb is also used for nausea, muscle spasms, gallbladder colic and ulcerative colitis. In Chinese medicine, yam is used for diverticulitis, irritable bowel and cramping of the stomach and bowels. They use if for gas pain, vomiting and hiccups. It is considered a mild liver tonic, and is used to treat hypertension and arterial spasms.
Externally Wild yam cream may be used externally, it is believed to raise progesterone levels in early pregnancy or to treat menopausal symptoms.
Other Uses Yam is edible, if a little bland. However, if it is seasoned properly, it makes a nice dish.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Yam may be combined with black haw bark to prevent miscarriage.
Roots The root is used medicinally.
If you take a medication that contains estradiol, you should not use wild yam. Yam should not be taken during pregnancy, as it may cause contractions.
Preparation and Dosage
Yam can be found commercially as a liquid extract and as powdered tuber. The powdered form can be found in capsules or tablets. The extract can also be made into an herbal tea.
A typical dose for wild yam would be to take a cup of herbal tea three times a day. To make the tea, pour boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried root and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
For tincture, take 40 to 120 drops three times per day.
For a fluid extract, take 10 to 40 drops three or four times per day.