Are Negative Wild Yam Studies Only Half The Story
Could you please give me your thoughts on the benefits of Wild Yam. I have been told by several female friends that it is an excellent natural alternative for helping with menstrual complications. But when I did some internet searches I came across only negative statements/studies. Nutritional-Supplement-Truths Response:
Thanks for your question. I know I have written about this before but haven't been able to locate that reader's question.
Anyway, I know what you mean! The wild yam content you would have come across is typical of what's happening on the web nowadays. Unqualified people posting content on which they have no idea whether it is factual, incomplete or predominantly wrong. I believe these people are simply doing internet searches themselves and then copying/re-wording the mistakes of other unqualified website authors
Wild Yam is an extremely useful medicinal herb for women! It is a precursor (to human sex hormones) able to help with menstrual cramps/pain, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
Much of the negative content you probably came across about wild yam's oestrogenic effects is quite misleading (clinical studies for traditional wild yam are difficult to come across outside of a laboratory conversion.)
I did some searches to see what came up on the first page of results and it was the usual statements suggesting that Wild Yam (botanical name 'Dioscorea', active component ‘diosgenin') does not produce the medicinal effects claimed.
This is because natural diosgenin from Wild Yam root and the form of alternative progesterone hormone which is synthesized by diosgenin in the lab are completely different, i.e. your body cannot convert natural diosgenin without synthesis in a lab.
Well Megan, while this is actually correct it is NOT the whole story
and therefore it is misleading.
Although the same hormonal effects have not been proven in natural wild yam due to this claim of non-conversion in the body, the natural hormonal precursors present in wild yam do have similar effects to the diosgenin used in laboratory conversion. You see the negative studies currently available can actually be used as positive studies (because of what they don't tell you!) What I mean is, in order that natural diosgenin can be converted to create a natural alternative hormone, the precursors MUST be set in the natural Wild Yam in the first place. The key is that the hormonal precursors naturally present in wild yam encourage the body to produce its own hormones.
Therefore, the benefit of using natural wild yam is that your body receives the precursors and is able to produce its own natural hormonal balances, and therefore doesn’t have to rely on a lab-created version at all.
The precursors are the key in the natural product, PROMOTING NATURAL HORMONE PRODUCTION!
So, we can see that the negative studies out there are actually acting as underlying positive evidence in so far as the proven ability to synthesize diosgenin supports that the natural precursors MUST be there in natural wild yam in order for that synthesis to take place.
This is not an easy topic to explain Megan - I hope I have explained it in a way that you can understand.
In addition, let's not forget about the studies proving anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties and benefits of wild yam. These also contribute to the health of the female reproductive organ!
At the very bottom of this answer I have included a resource which I had on file which helps support my explanations above. The part in question is under the section titled ‘Quoted References’.
Megan, you might be interested to know that the female 'premium version’ of the nutritional health supplement I use, contains five natural hormonal balancing precursors including wild yam.
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In addition, it is gender specific in order to address common health problems specific to each sex (like balancing the female hormonal matrix).
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Use this link if you would like to read further details about Total Balance Women's Premium versionQuoted References
2. "These tubers have been used in some cultures as a coffee substitute. It helps support the spleen, lungs and kidneys. Dioscoreae contains up to thirteen percent diosgenin. Diosgenin has been processed and given to patients to relieve arthritis, asthma, eczema, regulate metabolism and control fertility. Diosgenin provides the steroid building blocks for developing human sex hormones and can be used for developing muscle mass and strength. It has been used for emotional instability, chronic cough, diarrhea, and diabetes."
4. "Medicinal Action and Uses: Antispasmodic. Perhaps the best relief and promptest cure for bilious colic, especially helpful in the nausea of pregnant women. Wild Yam is beneficial also in painful cholera morbus with cramps, neuralgic affections, spasmodic hiccough and spasmodic asthma."
9. "Botanical name: Dioscorea oppositae Pharmaceutical name: Radix Dioscoreae Oppositae. English: Chinese Yam Root. Properties: sweet, neutral. Channels entered: Spleen, Lung, Kidney. Functions and clinical use: Tonifies and benefit the Spleen and Stomach: used in cases of Deficient Spleen or Stomach with such symptoms as diarrhea, fatigue, spontaneous sweating, and lack of appetite. Benefits the Lungs and nourishes the Kidneys: used for Wasting and Thirsting syndrome. Because this herb moistens and is neither hot nor cold, it benefits both the Yin and the Yang of the Lungs and Kidneys. It is also used for spermatorrhea, frequent urination, and leukorrhea."
14. "Wild yam root has been used for hundreds of years to treat rheumatism and arthritis-like ailments. The discovery of steroidal glycosides (diosgenin) in the root validated this ancient practice. Most species of yams contain large amounts of plant steroids, primarily diosgenin, a saponin precursor in the synthesis of progesterone. Without the yams, the industrial complex would not be able to meet the worldwide demand for synthetic corticosteroids. But with them, scientists can derive animal or human steroids in a fairly straightforward multi step process. Wild yams are the only really good source of plant steroids for such purposes.
Diosgenin provides about 50 percent of the raw material for steroid synthesis. It must be emphasized that there is not an equivalency between diosgenin and human steroids. It takes many synthetic steps to get from one to the other. If yam has steroidal effects on the body, it is not because it contains steroidal hormones, but because the steroidal precursors have similar effects. The body does not recognize them or mistake them for its own hormones, but uses them in a similar manner.
Research has shown that yam, yam extract and/or diosgenin possess good to excellent anti-inflammatory action.
In one series of studies, yam was found to induce a short-lived decrease in blood pressure and an increase in coronary flow when injected intravenously into rabbits. Also, in rabbits, the saponins of yam, fed orally, prevented large increases in blood cholesterol levels. The good therapeutic effect of dioscorea saponins on patients with atherosclerosis combined with hypertension was confirmed in Clinical practice.
The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes wild yam root as a spasmolytic, mild diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic and cholagogue, for use in the treatment of intestinal colic, diverticulitis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular rheumatism, cramps, intermittent claudication, cholecystitis, dysmenorrhea, and ovarian and uterine pain. Bilious colic and rheumatoid arthritis are specific indications for the use of yam."Brett Seagrott
founded Nutritional-Supplement-Truths.com in 2005 after working in and researching the nutritional supplement industry. Brett works together with leading health experts to present accurate facts and science-based evidence to help his readers make more informed choices when purchasing premium nutritional health supplements. More about Brett