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Wild yam – scientifically known as Dioscorea villosa – is a plant that is native to North America and widely recognized for its medicinal properties. Its root and bulb are rich in diosgenin, a phytoestrogen compound that has been linked to various hormone-boosting properties. This natural source is also known for its potential important role in balancing female hormones across different life stages, from menstruation to menopause and could be the secret you need to better managing your hormonal fluctuations, and decline in estrogen in menopause.
What is Wild Yam?
Wild yam was historically used by Native Americans for a variety of ailments, contains a unique compound, diosgenin. This compound is believed to influence the production of several hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. While our bodies cannot directly convert diosgenin into hormones, laboratory processes can transform it into a powerful ingredient in supplements, such as Menopause SOS and Period SOS. Wild Yam has shown in clinical trials to have a stabilising effect on hormone fluctuations, and this helps ease symptoms related to hormonal imbalance, such as menopause.
How can Wild Yam boost hormones?
Wild yam has long been respected for its ability to support women’s sex hormones, primarily due to the presence of diosgenin, a natural phytoestrogen compound found in the plant. Diosgenin is believed to be a precursor to various sex hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. This means that it is a substance that serves as a building block for the synthesis of sex hormones.
In a woman’s body, the hormonal effects of wild yam are thought to mimic estrogen and progesterone, potentially aiding in the balance and regulation of hormonal levels. This balancing effect is crucial for maintaining optimal reproductive health, managing menstrual cycles, and alleviating symptoms of menopause. As a result, wild yam influences hormone-like activity that can contribute to a more balanced hormonal state, which is essential for overall sexual health and well-being in women – especially in menopause, but during hormonal fluctuations associated with various life stages such as menstruation, fertility treatments, post-partum recovery and perimenopause. It has also shown benefits for post-menopausal health in women over 55.
7 Benefits of Wild Yam
Wild yam offers benefits throughout our lives – here’s some amazing ways it can help your hormonal health at any age:
Irregular periods? Wild yam can help!
Do you suffer from irregular periods, never knowing when your monthly bleed will arrive? Wild yam can help by regulating menstrual cycles – it does this by balancing estrogen and progesterone levels. It can also offer relief from PMS symptoms, such as bloating, cramps and fatigue. Using a topical supplement as part of your daily routine that is absorbed by the skin, such as Period SOS, is a great place to start.
Soothes post-partum cramping
After birth, it’s common for your hormones to fluctuate significantly, and the side-effects can be a bit of a rollercoaster! From fatigue, confusion and cramping, it’s a LOT to deal with in those early post-partum days. Wild yam supplementation may aid in stabilizing these changes. In studies, it’s shown to have antispasmodic effects, indicating a benefit in reducing post-partum cramps and spasms that many of us experience in the first few days and weeks after birth.
Boost to fertility
Research has shown that Wild yam aids fertility by boosting hormone levels, especially estrogen – but importantly, it’s shown to have improved the quality and quantity of cervical mucus, which aids natural conception. It is also thought to lower the risk of infertility by reducing uterine and and ovarian spasms, which can interfere with conception and implantation.
Relief during Menopause
During menopause, women experience a natural decline in hormone levels, particularly estrogen, leading to various symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Wild yam is believed to play a beneficial role during this transitional, natural phase of our lives. The phytoestrogen compound in wild yam – diosgenin – mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. Although it does not directly increase estrogen levels, its estrogen-like activity helps to improve some of the discomforts associated with menopausal symptoms and balancing the reduced estrogen levels, offers relief from the intensity and frequency of hot flashes, stabilizes moods and improves brain fog. It’s important to note that while wild yam offers relief from symptoms, it should be used as part of a holistic approach to managing menopause, including lifestyle changes and where appropriate, hormone therapy.
Get an energy boost
One huge impact of hormone imbalance is fatigue – and when it sets in, it can affect pretty much every part of your life. Wild yam contains diosgenin, a phytoestrogen, and these compounds have been shown to minic natural estrogen in the body – albeit in smaller amounts than naturally produced. Regular intake of phytoestrogen has shown to improve energy levels, which may be especially helpful if you are perimenopausal or experience fatigue as part of your menstrual cycle.
Glowing skin and hair
Estrogen significantly contributes to maintaining skin health, particularly its elasticity and moisture. As women age, especially during menopausal years, declining estrogen levels can lead to a reduction in skin elasticity and hydration, resulting in more noticeable signs of aging as collagen production reduces as a result of the lack of estrogen. Wild yam potentially aides in maintaining skin’s elasticity, firmness and moisture, to give you glowing skin and hair!
Stabilizes mood swings
Mood swings are a grim reality to manage when our hormones fluctuate or decline, especially where these fluctuations are more pronounced due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause. The phytoestrogen in wild yam has shown potential in reducing the severity of mood swings associated with hormonal imbalances. By aiding in the stabilization of hormone levels, wild yam may play a role in promoting emotional well-being and reducing the frequency and intensity of mood disturbances that many women experience as a part of their hormonal cycles.
How can I improve my intake of wild yam?
The most direct way to include wild yam in your diet is through supplements, available as capsules, creams, or powders. These are standardized to ensure a consistent dose of active ingredients. Try a topical supplement, like Glow Botanica’s Menopause or Period SOS for a soothing, effective and targeted intake of wild yam for your hormonal health.
Add it as a side dish or to your main meal
Wild yam can also be incorporated into meals. The root can be boiled, baked, or mashed, similar to other tubers like sweet potatoes. However, the concentration of beneficial compounds may vary in the dietary form compared to supplements.
Kate is a content writer, community creator, and ‘Endo-Warrior’ with Stage IV Endometriosis. She’s mum to three kids, two dogs and unsurprisingly; a lover of wine. Kate lives with her family in Hastings, UK.