What is Wild Yam Root?
Wild yam root is a plant, which belongs to the genus of tropical flowering plants called Dioscorea. The genus contains over 600 species, several of which are yams which contain a chemical compound called diosgenin. Some yam varieties are grown in the laboratory for harvesting diosgenin as these species are generally not eaten because of their bitter taste. Diosgenin can be converted into different steroids, for example dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) or estrogen. Diosgenin is prepared in the form of a liquid extract from the bulb and roots of the plant, which can be used to prepare herbal tea. It is also available as a powder and cream for topical application.
Benefits of Wild Yam Root for Body Building
Diosgenin helps to increase the level of certain hormones in the body which promote muscle development and increase in muscular strength. Two of these hormones are DHT (dihydrotestosterone) and DHEA. Following effects can be achieved for body building from wild yam roots:
- Increase in muscle mass
- Increase in muscular strength
- Enhanced exercise performance
- Increased muscle endurance
How Does It Work?
Diosgenin is a phytoestrogen that can be converted to different hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and DHEA. It has been found that diosgenin decreases the blood glucose, thereby increasing the glucose uptake by muscles, as is done by DHEA. It also increases the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) concentrations in the muscles which promotes the process of building muscles.
Some other benefits of wild yam root are as follows:
- Can be used as a natural substitute for estrogen therapy
- Is used for estrogen replacement therapy
- Increases libido in men and women
- Can be used for breast enlargement
- Can be used as a treatment for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) as well as increasing energy and relieving menstrual cramps
- Is used for eliminating vaginal dryness in older women
- Can be used as a treatment for osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Is used as a treatment for various gastrointestinal disorders such as gallbladder pain and diverticulosis (disorder of intestines)
- Can be used to relieve menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flashes
- Might be used as a treatment to lower high cholesterol levels
- In traditional medicine, wild yam root, also known as colic root, has been used for treating colic, muscle spasms, asthma and inflammation
- May also treat fungal infections such as yeast infection
- Can be used as a treatment for nervous conditions such as restlessness and nervousness
Diosgenin (10mg) was injected into the intestines of diabetic rats. Studies (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) were carried out with diosgenin, placebo and diosgenin coupled with inhibitor of an enzyme (5-alpha-reductase). This enzyme converts DHEA and testosterone into DHT. It was found that the rats injected with diosgenin alone had lower blood glucose levels and also increased the concentration of DHT and DHEA in the blood as well as in the muscles of the mice under study.
For adults, no side effects have been reported so far. However, vomiting might be a consequence of high wild yam doses.
A word of caution
- As of yet, there is no research available on the effects of wild yam root in children, so it’s better to avoid pediatric use. The same goes for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Wild yam may interact with other herbs, supplements or medications. Thus, it is best advised to consult your doctor before you start using wild yam root.
- Because not much is known about wild yam root and cancer, people with cancer risks (such as those with family history of uterine, ovarian or breast cancer) should avoid the use of wild yam root
- Because wild yam root has estrogen-like effects, doctors recommend avoiding use of wild yam root for people who have protein S deficiency. Such people are at an increased risk of forming blood clots, and the estrogen-like effects might actually cause more clots to form.
- A last reminder; for all those people suffering from a condition that might worsen with estrogen, avoid use of wild yam.
Even though the effects of wild yam root for body building are not sufficiently backed by scientific research, animal research shows that it increases the level of certain hormones which promote muscle growth and increased muscle strength. Additionally, diosgenin – the phytoestrogen which is the active compound in wild yam, has been traditionally used as a treatment for various reproductive problems in women and for increasing libido in both sexes. This establishes that diosgenin plays a good role in the regulation and production of certain reproductive hormones.
If you want to start on wild yam root, first consult your doctor so that you do not experience any health complications in the future. And make sure that you are not suffering from any health conditions that may worsen by the use of this supplement.