Pinyin: Shan Yao Latin: Dioscorea Villosa
Wild Yam is a perennial Climber growing to 3m, hardy to zone 6 in flower from September to October. The Wild Yam flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) The plant is not self-fertile.
Wild Yam prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and cannot grow in the shade, requires moist soil.
Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Parts: Root.*
Tuber - cooked. Some caution should be exercised with this plant.*
Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) Uses:*
Wild yam roots, and the roots of many other members of the genus, contains diosgenin. Diosgenin is widely used in modern medicine in order to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. These are used as contraceptives and in the treatment of various disorders of the genitary organs as well as in a host of other diseases such as asthma and arthritis[222, 254].*
Wild yam roots are anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic and vasodilator[165, 238]. They are also a visceral relaxant. The Dioscorea Villosa plant affords one of the best and fastest cures for bilious colic, and is especially helpful in treating nausea of pregnant women and has been used to ease the pain of childbirth.*
Wild Yam is also taken internally in the treatment of arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, gall bladder complaints, painful menstruation etc. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. Wild Yam root should not be stored for longer than 1 year, since it is likely to lose its medicinal virtues. Caution is advised in the use of the this plant, when taken fresh it can cause vomiting and other side effects. The root, harvested in September, is used to make a homeopathic remedy the main use of which is in the treatment of infant colic.*
- [K] Ken Fern
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