There has been a bit of noise around the menopause traps about Wild Yam as a natural remedy to help support some menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. So what is it?
Wild yam is a plant. It contains a chemical called diosgenin. This chemical 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, improving mental function, and for increasing energy.
Some women apply wild yam creams to the skin to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
How does it work?
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. There may be other parts of the wild yam that act like estrogen in the body.
- Menopausal symptoms. Applying wild yam cream to the skin for 3 months does not seem to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. It also does not seem to affect levels of hormones that play a role in menopause.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Mental function. Early research suggests that taking wild yam extract daily for 12 weeks might improve thinking skills in healthy adults.
- 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 the effectiveness of wild yam for these uses.
Side Effects & Safety
Wild yam is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Large amounts can cause vomiting.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking wild yam if you are pregnant or 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, do not 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 is best to avoid using wild yam until more is known.
This information has been taken from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-970/wild-yam
So you can see some of the research there, I think it’s an interesting natural alternative and I have tried a product from Young Living with Wild Yam in it. I noticed a remarkable difference in my moods while using this oil, I was a lot calmer, more grounded but it made me super nauseous so I stopped using it. I think something that mimics a hormone as closely as this product does really needs to be taken with caution but hey it’s something else we can add to our arsenal of menopause weapons of warfare! Do your own research!