Wild Yam - Best Herb for Arthritis

Wild yam

Dioscorea villosa Dioscoreaceae Also called China root, Colic root, Rheumatism root

A relative if the edible yam) wild yam is native to Mexico and the southern USA. It is a large climbing plant with dense tuberous roots and twining stems that can reach a height if6m. Its heartshaped leaves are held on long stalks and its yellowy green flowers form small clusters.

Parts used

  • Rhizome
  • The plant's rhizome measures 5-10cm in diameter. Once cleaned, it is dried, crushed or ground to a powder.
  • Wild yam is most frequently used in decoctions


Wild yam's rhizome contains steroidal saponins (dioscin, gracillin), tannins, phytosterols and starch. Wild yam is also the source of diosgenin.

Medicinal uses

Wild yam has been used to treat rheumatism and arthritis. This anti-inflammatory action is thought to be imparted by dioscin. Wild yam is also antispasmodic and is used as a treatmentfor colic, irritable bowel syndrome and other types of painful muscular spasms. This has led to its use in relieving menstrual cramps and labour pains.

There is much folklore connected with wild yam's usein treating women's hormonal problems, but no scientific evidence to prove this. In an Australian clinical trial performed in 2001, patients were given a wild yam-based cream to rub into their bodies, while other patients received a placebo. The researchers did not observe any relief of menopausal symptoms with either the placebo or the wild yam.


For internal use

TO TREAT digestive problems DECOCTION Put 1-2g of rhizome into a cup of water. Boil for 15-20 minutes and strain. Drink 1-2 cups a day.
TO TREAT rheumatic pain CAPSULES (powdered root, 500mg) Take 1-2 capsules up to three times a day.



Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using wild yam.


Plant in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil in sun or light shade.


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