What is Yam Extract?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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Yam extract is a supplement which comes in dried capsule, pill, or cream versions and is used to treat and alleviate a variety of conditions. Use of yam as an anti-pain agent dates back to the days of the Aztec civilization, and it continues to be used today for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis as well as for regulating the digestive and reproductive tracts. Since the enzymes in yam extract act as a steroid in the human body, athletes have also been known to use yam to improve athletic performance.

The active enzyme in yam extract, diosgenin, is a natural steroid which has anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. Yams are grown in large numbers in Mexico due to the increase in demand started by reports that wild yam root can be used to help treat a host of conditions. Muscle spasms, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and inflammatory bowel diseases may all be helped by wild yam.

Athletes also use yam extract in certain areas to help improve physical performance and muscle tone, much like with synthetic steroids. Because it is natural, wild yam is often less harsh on the body and has a more gradual effect on bodybuilding performance and muscle tone. Often, athletes eat the yams directly rather than use the extract form, although either may be effective.


There have been some reports that the enzymes in yam extract convert into progesterone inside the body, but these claims have been disproved over again. Although yam may have a calming effect on a woman’s menstrual cycles, there is no indication that wild yam changes hormonal activity in the female body. This misconception likely came about due to yam’s pain relieving properties on menstrual cramps. In some cases, natural progesterone may be added to a wild yam extract cream. If a product does not say “natural progesterone” or “USP natural progesterone” on the label, it should not be assumed that the yam cream will provide the same results.

Yam extract often comes in the form of capsules filled with dried yam root. Creams are also available which are rubbed onto the soft tissues of the body. Dosages should be closely monitored for accuracy because overdose of wild yam root extract may be harmful to the body. As with any drug or supplement, patients should speak with a doctor or pharmacist before beginning a wild yam extract regimen.


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Post 2

Also called colic root, wild yam is a tuberous, twining vine. One species is native to North America. Another species is native to China. They both contain diosgenin and have very similar medicinal properties. There are around 600 species of yam, many of them wild species that grow in damp woodlands and thickets. Wild yam is a perennial vine with pale brown, knotty rootstocks, or tubers. Unlike sweet potato yams, the roots are not fleshy. They are dry, narrow, and crooked. The reddish-brown stems grow to a length of over 30 feet.

Post 1

Early Americans used to use wild yam to treat colic. That is where it got its nickname: colic root. Traditionally, it has been used to treat inflammation, muscle spasms, and many other disorders, including asthma. However, there is no scientific evidence that it works.

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