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Dioscorea villosa

Dioscorea villosa (Dioscoriaceae)

WILD YAM, DIOSCOREA, COLIC ROOT, RHEUMATISM ROOT

 

Wild yam root is used in the preparation of steroids by the pharmaceutical industry. Herbalists use it for conditions ranging from rheumatic diseases to ovarian pain.

 

A native of eastern and central United States, yam grows widely throughout the tropics, where it is used as a starchy root crop. Until 1970, a related species of wild yam, D. mexicana, was the sole source of sex hormones for the manufacture of the female contraceptive pill. Today, many species of Dioscorea, including wild yam, are used in the preparation of steroids by the pharmaceutical industry. Wild yam is a perennial with long twisted roots, a twining stem, small heart-shaped leaves, and green to yellow flowers that appear in summer.

 

PARTS USED

Root or rhizome.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Steroidal saponins based on diosgenin, including dioscin and dioscorin; starch; tannins.

 

ACTIONS

Reduces muscle tension and spasm; dilates local blood vessels; increases the flow of bile; anti-inflammatory.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Also given for colic, inflammation of the colon, cramps, intermittent claudication (pain in the calves caused by spasms in the blood vessels supplying the leg muscles), painful periods, and ovarian and womb pain. Related species are prescribed in Chinese medicine for dysentery, indigestion, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and in Ayurvedic medicine for impotence, infertility, abdominal cramps and hysteria. Homeopathically, (Dioscorea) is given for stomach pain.

 

PREPARATIONS

Decoction, tincture, pharmaceutical preparations, homeopathic remedies.  

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