What is it?
Wild yam is most commonly used as a "natural alterative" to estrogen therapy for symptoms of menopause, infertility, menstrual problems, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these or other uses.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for WILD YAM are as follows:
Possibly ineffective for...
- Symptoms of menopause. Applying wild yam cream to the skin for 3 months doesn't seem to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. It also doesn't seem to affect levels of hormones that play a role in menopause.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that taking wild yam extract daily for 12 weeks might improve thinking skills in healthy adults.
- Use as a natural alternative to estrogens.
- Postmenopausal vaginal dryness.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis).
- Increasing energy and sexual desire in men and women.
- Gallbladder problems.
- Increasing appetite.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Menstrual disorders.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
When applied to the skin: Wild yam is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin.
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if wild yam is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Wild yam might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use wild yam.
Protein S deficiency: People with protein S deficiency have an increased risk of forming clots. There is some concern that wild yam might increase the risk of clot formation in these people because it might act like estrogen. One patient with protein S deficiency and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) developed a clot in the vein serving the retina in her eye 3 days after taking a combination product containing wild yam, dong quai, red clover, and black cohosh. If you have protein S deficiency, it is best to avoid using wild yam until more is known.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Wild yam might have some of the same effects as estrogen. Taking wild yam along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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