Wild Yam is edible and medicinal, though said to be bland, when cooked with seasoning it is tasty. Used for centuries as a medicinal herb by the Aztec and Myan peoples for a wide range of ailments including many female problems and to relieve the pain of child birth. Research indicates that this is a powerful alternative medicine containing many steroidal saponins, mainly Dioscin which is widely used to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs used as contraceptives and in the treatment of various disorders of the genitary organs as well as in other diseases such as asthma and arthritis.
The wild yam plant has clusters of small, drooping greenish-white and greenish-yellow flowers. The heart-shaped leaves are long and broad and long-stemmed, with prominent veins. The upper surface of the leaves is smooth while the underside is downy.
The Wild Yam contains a progesterone precursor. The progesterone precursors in the yam are used by the pharmaceutical industry to produce progesterone. However, there is no evidence that the human body can convert these substances into progesterone.
Recently, wild yam has been promoted as an herbal alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms. This claim is based on the inaccurate belief that the plant is a natural source of the female hormone progesterone. Although wild yam does contain diosgenin, a substance that can be converted into progesterone in a laboratory, it is not possible for the human body to make this chemical transformation.