Wild Yam Treatment

Overview

If you are one of the 38 percent of Americans who use alternative medicine, you may decide to try wild yam treatment for a specific health condition such as menopause or painful menstruation. However, although over-the-counter wild yam treatments are purported to help with women’s health issues, there is no scientific evidence that these treatments will work for you, states the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Therefore, discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of taking wild yam treatments before you use the herb to treat yourself for any condition.

Identification

Wild yam, also known as Dioscorea villosa, wild Mexican yam, China root, colic root, devil’s bone and rheumatism root, is a perennial vine indigenous to North America. Alternative health practitioners use wild yam’s dried roots and rootstocks, called rhizomes, in numerous herbal remedies.

Uses

Alternative health practitioners use wild yam root to treat high cholesterol; menstrual, menopause and pregnancy symptoms; breast cancer; IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome; urinary tract infections; cancer; cardiovascular disease and rheumatic, or joint, pain. Alternative health practitioners also use wild yam to treat Crohn’s disease, bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough, according to the American Cancer Society, or ACS.

Misconceptions

The roots of wild yams contain diosgenin, a plant-based form of estrogen that can be chemically converted into progesterone, a hormone produced by the female ovaries that prepares and maintains the uterus to carry a fetus. However, your body cannot convert diosgenin into progesterone on its own; it can only be converted by scientists in a laboratory, according to the UMMC. Therefore, although alternative health professionals use wild yam to treat menstrual disorders such as cramps and nausea, and pregnancy disorders such as morning sickness, osteoporosis and inflammation, there is no scientific evidence that the herb is effective in treating these conditions.

Side Effects

Wild yam supplements may initiate breathing difficulties, hives, closing of your throat and swelling of your face, tongue and lips. When taken in large doses, wild yam can produce diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and in rare instances produce asthma and skin rashes, according to the ACS.

Warning

Do not take wild yam supplements if you take birth control pills or use hormone replacement therapy, as the herb may negatively interact with the medications, states the UMMC.
Also, do not use wild yam creams, states the ACS. Some wild yam creams contain added progesterone that is not clearly identified on the label. This added progesterone can initiate side effects that range from headache, upset stomach, irritability and constipation, to more serious side effects such as blurred vision, dizziness and seizures.

About this Author

Based in Louisiana, Lynette Hingle has been a freelance writer since 2007. She specializes in health and fitness and travel-related articles and writes for various online outlets, including Associated Content. Hingle holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and journalism from Southeastern Louisiana University.