Wild yam with green leaves
[Dioscorea villosa]

Yam: gynecological remedy and food

The yam plays a major role worldwide. In Africa in particular, it is one of the staple foods and is grown in large quantities as a field crop. The tubers grow very large, are less sweet compared to sweet potatoes and are very filling. It is also an old acquaintance in the folk medicine of Africa. In the occidental naturopathy, however, it has not played a role for very long. However, it owes its fame to an ingredient called diosgenin, which has a progesterone-like effect in the body and is therefore often used for women's complaints.

Facts about yam

Did you know that...

...the tuber can weigh up to 20kg?
...yams is a climbing plant up to several meters high?
...67% of the world's yam production is accounted for by Nigeria?

What is yam?

Dioscurea villosa is a climbing and climbing plant native mainly to tropical areas. It grows up to several meters high, forming a large number of whorl-like leaves and a massive, huge root. It usually blooms in summer, during which time it delights with small but beautiful white star-shaped flowers. The flowers are separately sexual and must be pollinated by insects. The enormous root is the most important part of this plant. It grows up to 20kg in weight and a good 70cm in length. In its raw state it is slightly poisonous and should not be consumed. When cooked, however, it loses its toxicity and becomes edible. In some parts of Africa, it is one of the main staple foods used and forms the basis of almost every meal. It is increasingly being displaced in importance by cassava, which is easier to grow.

General and medicinal properties of Dioscorea villosa

The basic knowledge


Yam root is progesteronizing. It contains substances that are considered a precursor for progesterone and have a similar effect in the body. Thus, hormone deficiency symptoms can be treated herbally and sustainably eliminated.


Yam root is anti-rheumatic. It inhibits inflammation and noticeably reduces the perceived pain. Mobility and well-being return and the rheumatic process weakens.


Yam root is cholesterol-lowering. It reduces total cholesterol and regulates the ratio of HDL to LDL. This reduces the risk of atherosclerotic processes and cardio-vascular sequelae such as heart attack and stroke.

Yam: Ingredients

The active ingredients of yam are obtained from the dried rhizome.
  • Steroid saponins such as diosgenin and dioscin
  • Alkaloids like dioscorin
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • B1 and B6

Yam: effect for body and mind

All preparations of yam are lipid-lowering. A diet with yam leads to regulation of total cholesterol and balancing of LDL and HDL cholesterols. Therefore, they were also used in Asia and America as a rejuvenating agent in medicine for men and women. Today, its field of application is mainly linked to hormonal issues. In ladies, it is therefore popularly used for breast tenderness, lactation disorders, childbearing or menstrual pain. For men, it is said to work wonders for impotence and stimulate the formation of semen. Many also swear by its use for rheumatism in general. Perhaps because it also contains an anti-inflammatory component that can be used for this issue.

Dioscorea villosa properties

  • Period regulating
  • Libido enhancing
  • Progesteronizing
  • Antiosteoporotic
  • Hot flashes-relieving
  • Edema-relieving

Fields of application in naturopathy

[Dioscorea villosa]
The areas of application of yam result from its active ingredients. The main focus today is the gynecological application.

Dioscorea villosa for PMS

PMS is the sum of symptoms that can occur during hormonal imbalance in the days before menstruation. These usually include mood swings, breast tenderness, water retention and abdominal cramps. The cause is often very low progesterone levels. Since yam has a progesterone-like effect, these symptoms disappear and the period can begin and proceed in a more relaxed manner.

Yams for menopausal symptoms

During menopause, progesterones and estrogens decrease. The result is a lack of menstruation, sleep disturbances, mood swings, hot flashes and strange, unpleasant spotting. The yam root provides progesterone-active substances that mitigate the deficiency symptoms during menopause and significantly improve the overall well-being. The hot flushes and the like subside and the change can be carried out in a relaxed manner.

Dioscorea villosa for childlessness

The desire to have children is a fundamental issue for young women, their marriages and relationships. Often there is a hormonal imbalance in the ladies, which makes conception unlikely or impossible. But also the men repeatedly have too weak sperm, which are not enough for fertilization of the egg. The yam balances the hormonal situation in the ladies and also helps the men to gain in procreative power. In addition, it increases the desire in both and thus creates the basic prerequisite for bringing offspring into the world.

Yams for stomach pain & cramps

The yam is antispasmodic. But it not only helps with period cramps, but also with cramps of the digestive tract. It relaxes the muscles of the stomach and intestines and calms the tendency to cramps in the long term. The pain subsides and everything can go its usual course.

Instructions for the use of yam

It is usually taken in the form of drops or tablets. In this case, the yam is used as a cure for treatment and is often part of mixtures. Of course, it can also be eaten and become part of the cuisine.

Dioscorea villosa during pregnancy & lactation

During pregnancy and lactation it is not recommended to take it, because it has hormonal effects.

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Wild yam, four young light green leaves



Botanical name

Dioscorea villosa

Plant family


Other designations

Bread root


June till August

Harvest time

all year round


semi-shady to sunny


North and Central America

Flower color

yellowish-greenish, white

Flower shape


Leaf color


Leaf shape


Sheet properties

glossy-smooth surface, red edge

Soil type

permeable, humus

Soil moisture

moist to moderately dry



Lime compatibility

lime shy

Nutrient requirements



toxic (raw)

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