Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wild Yam

Wild yam or Dioscorea villosa has been used worldwide for centuries to improve health and more. The wild yam is native to North America, Mexico and Asia, though many species now exist throughout the world. It is actually a vine, of which the roots and rhizome (stem) are used medicinally.

The vegetable has a rough skin which is difficult to peel, but which softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink.

Wild Yams are high in Vitamin C, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese; while being low in saturated fat and sodium. Vitamin C, dietary fiber and Vitamin B6 may all promote good health. Furthermore, a product that is high in potassium and low in sodium is likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. Having a low level of saturated fat is also helpful for protection against heart disease.

Mexican Wild Yam is a very good antispasmodic so is good for menstrual cramps, relaxing muscles, soothing nerves, relieving pain, poor circulation and neuralgia, for the inflammatory stage of rheumatory arthritis and for abdominal and intestinal cramping.

It has long been used for its benefits in womens reproductive health, including pre-menstrual syndrome and menopausal problems. It can be taken in capsules or in tea (though there are mixed opinions on the flavour). The powder can be added to creams or vaginal ointments.

The health benefits of Wild Yam:

1.Reduce inflammation: Wild yam has anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used to help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.

2.Digestive aid: Herbalists have used wild yam to treat colic, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome.

3.Lower blood sugar levels: Dioscoretine, an alkaloid compound in wild yam, has been shown in animal studies to lower blood sugar levels.

4.Antioxidant properties: A clinical trial found that wild yam has free-radical-fighting antioxidant properties.

5.Good cholesterol: Another study found that wild yam extract might help raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind) in the elderly.

6.Relax muscles (and relieve cramps): Wild yam has been used by herbalists to help relax muscles, which may occur, in part, due to substances in wild yam called alkaloids. This may also provide relief for menstrual cramps and endometriosis.

7.Regulate metabolic function: Substances in wild yam may help to regulate the body's metabolism.

8.Enhance virility: Traditional uses for wild yam suggest that it may be useful for enhancing virility.

Large doses of wild yam can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not use wild yam. Although rare, allergic reactions to wild yam can occur, including rashes, asthma, and other symptoms.

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