Supplement: Wild Yam (Diosgenin)

Supplement: Wild Yam (Diosgenin)

Supplement: Wild Yam (Diosgenin)

wild yam

wild yam

Wild Yam (Diosgenin)

Other Names:

American Yam, Atlantic Yam, Barbasco, China Root, Chinese Yam, Colic Root, Devil’s Bones, DHEA Naturelle, Dioscorea, Dioscoreae, Dioscorea alata, Dioscorea batatas, Dioscorea composita, Dioscorea floribunda, Dioscorea hirticaulis, Dioscorea japonica, Dioscorea macrostachya, Dioscorea mexicana, Dioscorea opposita, Dioscorea tepinapensis, Dioscorea villosa, Dioscorée, Igname Sauvage, Igname Velue, Mexican Yam, Mexican Wild Yam, Ñame Silvestre, Natural DHEA, Phytoestrogen, Phyto-œstrogène, Rheumatism Root, Rhizoma Dioscorae, Rhizoma Dioscoreae, Shan Yao, Wild Mexican Yam, Yam, Yuma.

Wild yam is a plant. It contains a chemical, diosgenin, which can be made in the laboratory into various steroids, such as estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The root and the bulb of the plant are used as a source of diosgenin, which is prepared as an “extract,” a liquid that contains concentrated diosgenin.

There are over 600 species of wild yam. Some species are grown specifically as a source of diosgenin for laboratories to use in making steroids. These species are generally not eaten due to a bitter flavor. Only about 12 of the 600 species are considered edible.

Diosgenin or wild yam is often promoted as a “natural alterative” to estrogen therapy, so you will see it used for estrogen replacement therapy, vaginal dryness in older women, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menstrual cramps, weak bones (osteoporosis), increasing energy and sexual drive in men and women, and breast enlargement. Wild yam does seem to have some estrogen-like activity, but it is not actually converted into estrogen in the body. It takes a laboratory to do that.

Similarly, you will also see wild yam and diosgenin promoted as a “natural DHEA.” This is because in the laboratory DHEA is made from diosgenin, but this chemical reaction is not believed to occur in the human body. So taking wild yam extract will not increase DHEA levels in people. Individuals who are interested in taking DHEA should avoid wild yam products labeled as “natural DHEA.”

Wild yam is also used for treating a disorder of the intestines called diverticulosis, gallbladder pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and for increasing energy.

Some women apply wild yam creams to the skin to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

Wild yam contains a chemical that can be made into various steroids, such as estrogen, in the laboratory. However, the body can’t change wild yam to estrogen.

Insufficient Evidence for:

Use as a natural alternative to estrogens.
Postmenopausal vaginal dryness.
PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).
Weak bones (osteoporosis).
Increasing energy and sexual desire in men and women.
Gallbladder problems.
Painful menstrual periods.
Rheumatoid arthritis.
Menstrual disorders.
Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate wild yam for these uses.

Wild yam is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults. Large amounts can cause vomiting.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of wild yam during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Wild yam might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use wild yam.

Protein S deficiency: People with protein S deficiency have an increased risk of forming clots. There is some concern that wild yam might increase the risk of clot formation in these people because it might act like estrogen. There is one case report of a patient with protein S deficiency and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who developed a clot in the vein serving the retina in her eye 3 days after taking a combination product containing wild yam, dong quai, red clover, and black cohosh. If you have protein S deficiency, it’s best to avoid using wild yam until more is known.

We currently have no information for WILD YAM Interactions.

Vitamin Supplement Ingredients

Please Note:

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.


The information presented is believed to be accurate, however, the publisher accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, and the reader assumes all risk for its use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using these or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.

About the Author:

McGuinnessPublishing™ is an authoritative source for information about Vitamin Supplement Ingredients and their use. The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this or any website. We always urge you to consult your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements due to potential side effects.

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