Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Parts used: Rhizomes and roots
Benefits: Wild yam is a primary source of material for steroid production and also serves as a hormone precursor, thereby aiding the proper function of the reproductive system of both sexes. Although sometimes wild yam is listed as a natural birth-control agent, it’s more often used to promote fertility and treat all aspects of menstrual dysfunction. The roots and rhizomes contain bitter compounds that help tone the liver and increase bile flow. Wild yam is also useful for liver congestion and inflammation. It’s especially indicated for those who store excess heat in their bodies or who have high blood pressure. Additionally, wild yam is a nervine and antispasmodic and is excellent for soothing muscle cramps, colic, and uterine pain.
Suggested uses: Wild yam can be made into teas, tinctures, and capsules. It is bitter and not often prepared by itself as a tea, though it is tolerable when blended with other herbs.
At-risk warning: Native populations of wild yam are under siege, and some varieties are highlighted on the United Plant Savers “at risk” list. Use only cultivated varieties of wild yam.