Wild Yam

WILD YAM (Dioscorea villosa)

Family: Dioscoreaceae

Parts commonly used: Rhizome and root.

Properties/energetics: Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, cholagogue/Warm; sweet, bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Reproductive, musculoskeletal, digestive.

Uses: Wild Yam’s primary action is antispasmodic. It has a particular affinity for smooth muscle that makes up the hollow tubes of the body. Its main areas of action are in the gallbladder and gall ducts, the small and large intestines, and the uterus. Its antispasmodic nature helps relieve certain kinds of pain; the sharp, spastic pain of spasm (like the pain that calls for Silk Tassel, see the entry for Silk Tassel above), as opposed to the dull, achy pain of congestion. Besides being antispasmodic, Wild Yam seems to possess anti-inflammatory properties. The high saponin content of the plant suggests that the activity may be steroidal, and it seems particularly useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Combinations: Combines with Ginger and Chamomile for relieving intestinal colic; if gassy, include a carminative. Combines with Cramp Bark and Black Cohosh for treating rheumatoid arthritis, with Silk Tassel, Calamus, and Ginger for colon cramps, and with Silk Tassel for acute uterine spasms. Combines well with Marshmallow root and Elder flowers for treating diverticulitis and an inflamed appendix.

Affects on specific body types: Wild Yam is a very useful tonic for Seer constitutions, cooling down the overactive autonomic nerves and relaxing the visceral smooth muscles. This makes for smoother functioning of the often-overcontracted internal organs. The gallbladder and gall ducts are relaxed, improving the flow of bile and preventing bilious colic. The large intestine is relaxed, helping guard against intestinal colic and increased transit time (spastic constipation), and, in the case of Seer women, there is guarding against spastic uterine cramps and ovarian pain.

Preparations/dosage: Decoction: 1/2 to 1 cup three times a day. Tincture: 15 to 30 drops three times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition