Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yam)

Dioscorea villosa                                   Common name:  Wild yam

Parts used: Root

Constituents: Steroidal saponins based on diosgenin (dioscin, dioscorin, and others), Starch, Alkaloids, Tannins, Phytosterols

Medicinal actions: Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, analgesic, anti-tussive, anti-asthmatic, expectorant, anti-diabetic, vasodilator, cardiac sedative, bitter, hepatic, diuretic

Medicinal use: Is most indicated in inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, joints, uterus and ovaries.  Wild yam reduces the inflammation and pain associated with intestinal cramping.  This may occur as part of inflammatory bowel disease, flatulence, diverticulitis, and nausea and vomiting. Has specific use for bilious colic and acute phases of RA. Will aid in all types of arthritis, joint/muscle pain, neuralgias and inflammations.


  • It is believed that the anti-inflammatory action is due to steroidal effects.
  • Steroidal saponin disocin yields diosgenin which is used for the manufacture of progesterone, hydrocortisone, and other hormones.
  • It is not clear that the body can convert disogenin to progesterone or other hormones. 

Pharmacy:  Tincture: (1:2, 60%), 1-2 ml QD. Acute:  2.5 ml q ½ hour; weekly maximum dosage 100 ml. Decoction: 1-2 tsp root/cup water, decoct 15 min;  Chronic: 1 cup TID; Acute:  ½-1 cup q ½ hour. Dried root: 2-4g, TID.

Toxicity:  None known. High doses may cause nausea, vomitting, diarrhea.

Interactions:  None known.

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