The Wild Yam herb has been known in the annals of traditional medicine as a potent aphrodisiac. It has also been used for a variety of gynecological complaints such as menstrual cramps.
Yams refer to countless varieties of annual creeping plants that bear tubers and have edible roots. These plants belong to the dioscoreaceae family and are generally found in humid tropical places but are also increasingly found in warmer temperate regions. Some of these yams are fleshy and are rich in carbohydrates, and are consumed as food in many places.
The wild yam is a perennial vine with clusters of small greenish flowers. The roots are dry, narrow, and crooked, while its stems are typically reddish-brown that grow to a length of over 30 feet.
The wild yam’s reputation grew in the 1950s when scientists discovered that its roots contain diosgenin, a plant-derived estrogen that can be chemically converted into progesterone, a hormone. The diosgenin was the basis upon which the early birth control pills were made.
The active constituents of wild yam are alkaloids, steroidal saponins, tannins, phytosterols, and starch. It also contains ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, fiber and minerals (such as chromium, manganese, magnesium, sodium and tin).
The healthy properties of the wild yam may be derived by drinking wild yam tea. To make the tea, pour boiling water over 1 to 2 tsp of the dried wild yam root. Let the mix stand for 3 to 5 minutes before drinking. The wild yam tea can be taken three times a day. Wild yam can likewise be taken as a tincture or an extract.
The following are some health benefits attributed to this tea:
- Claimed to help alleviate cramps, muscle tension and colic
- Thought to assist in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism
- May aid in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
- Believed to help regulate the female system
- Said to help in treating infertility
- May help lower back pains
- Appears to work on the kidney to stop frequent urination or vaginal discharge
- Perceived to help in lowering cholesterol levels, although more studies are needed to make this conclusive