The health effects of the wild yam
The plant known as the wild yam is actually a perennial vine which features a pale brown rhizome coupled with a thin reddish brown stem with can grow up to 36 feet in length. The wild yam features large oval leaves with a fine hair on the bottom of the leaf, and the plant produces attractive flowers of greenish yellow. These small flowers appear from June to July.
The fruit of the wild yam is also yellowish green and it ripens in September, remaining on the vine for a time during the winter months. The rootstocks of the wild yam are crooked, and they feature horizontal branches with long runners. The wild yam has many other names, including devil’s bones, rheumatism root, yuma, Mexican yam and China root.
Wild yam and traditional medicine
The wild yam has been used in traditional medicines for many years, and it is thought to provide many benefits, including relief from the menstrual cramps, hot flashes and headaches often associated with menopause.
It is thought that wild yam provides these benefits due to its estrogen like and progestin like properties. The rhizome is known to contain compounds known as sopanins, which are a precursor to the production of estrogen, progesterone and cortisone.
The outer bark of the wild yam is also high in these saponins, and this may explain some of their ability to sooth menopausal symptoms. In addition, wild yam has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and muscle spasms, and traditional cultures have long used it to treat the liver and endocrine system. And in addition to treating menopausal symptoms, wild yam has also proven effective at treating menstrual cramps and other similar problems. Wild yam has even been effective at treating common digestive concerns such as irritable bowel syndrome and cramping.
Side effects and precautions
While wild yam is generally safe and effective for a number of conditions, it can have side effects and caution should be used when beginning treatment with this plant. If you experience any side effects or discomfort when taking wild yam, it is important to discontinue taking it and seek the advice of your doctor.
As with all supplements and medications, both prescription and over the counter, it is important to consult with your doctor when taking wild yam. It is important that your physician have a complete record of all treatments and medications you are taking, whether he or she prescribed them or not. That is because even herbal remedies can have significant side effects and drug interactions. Keeping your physician apprised of all your treatment is the best way to ensure your good health.
In some cases large does of wild yam have been shown to cause diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. In addition, women who are pregnant or those who are breast feeding should not take wild yam because it does carry the risk of certain birth defects and spontaneous abortion. In addition, those who suffer from hormone imbalance, hormone sensitive cancers or depression should not take wild yam.