Herbal Meds

Relieve menstrual cramps the herbal way with Wild Yam


The Aztecs and the Maya first used wild yam for its pain relieving properties.  Centuries later, European settlers used wild yam to treat joint pain and muscle cramps.

It is only the roots of this herbal plant that contain any medicinal value and once dried, it is used to make an herbal tea.

The roots of the wild yam contain a substance called diosgenin, a phyto-estrogen, and in the 1950's scientists discovered that this substance can be chemically converted into the hormone progesterone.  The first birth control pills were manufactured in the 1960's and contained diosgenin.

Most of the claims that wild yam can relieve PMS and menopausal symptoms are yet to be scientifically proven.  Although this herbal medicine contains diosgenin, this substance cannot be converted into progesterone by your body, it can only be done in a laboratory.  Some holistic health care practitioners claim that their patients found relief when using a cream that contain wild yam herbal extracts.  These creams have to be applied to the belly and thighs, but how the cream works, is not clear.

Be very careful when purchasing creams and lotions that claim to contain a natural progesterone such as wild yam.  The molecules and particles in wild yam are too big to be absorbed through your skin, and as mentioned, your body cannot convert diosgenin into progesterone on its own.

Wild yam does however have other herbal benefits.  In tea, tincture or capsule form, wild yam acts as a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory.  Some health care practitioners prescribe wild yam in capsule form to relieve joint and muscle pain.  If you are looking to use wild yam as an herbal medicine to relieve menstrual cramps, combining it with herbs such as chasteberry is your best option.

Substances called alkaloids are also found in wild yam.  Alkaloids are muscle relaxants that specifically work on the muscles in your abdomen and pelvis.  People who suffer from Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and other painful digestive disorders report that they find relief after drinking wild yam herbal tea.

What are the side effects of Wild Yam?

Please consult your medical practitioner prior to using any herbal medications should you be under their care.

Do not exceed the recommended dosage as it can cause diarrhoea and nausea.

Pregnant and lactating women should not use wild yam herbal supplements.

Do not use wild yam if you are on a birth control pill or using hormone replacement therapy, as wild yam can negatively interact with the hormones found in these prescription medicines.

How do I take Wild Yam?

Wild yam herbal medicines are available in capsule, tea or tincture form.  Take half a teaspoon of tincture three times a day, or 500 mg of wild yam in a capsule form.  You can drink a cup of wild yam herbal tea three times a day to relieve cramps and muscle aches.

To make the tea, use a cup of boiling water with two teaspoons of dried wild yam root and let it steep for 10-15 minutes.  Combining wild yam with other herbal teas such as peppermint tea will increase the benefits when using it for digestive disorders.

Wild yam herbal supplements should be taken with food to minimize the risk of nausea and stomach upsets.  

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