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Dioscorea villosa

Forb/herb; perennial

Native

Blooming:  April, May

The vines are noticeable in the lower part of Womack Creek, competing with other vine plants for sunshine.

The photos are that of a male plant as distinguished by its flowers.

This is not to be confused with the edible yam.  The roots are not fleshy and are narrow & dry.  The root itself contains diosgenin, a phytoestrogen which can be chemically converted to hormone progesterone.  The raw phytoestrogen in the root when consumed in its various forms does not seem to release progesterone — this has to be processed chemically.

Dioscorea villosa has a history of being used medicinally.  It was prescribed by herbalists for menstrual cramps, ostereoporosis, for lessening post-menopausal hot-flashes,  for upset stomach and coughs.

Wild yam natural medication is sold in liquid or powder (as tablets or capsules).  It may be combined with other herbs such as black cohosh which have estrogen-like effects.  As in all natural health products, it should be under supervision of a physician since there are risks when used with pharmaceuticals and for those with certain health problems.

Source:  U of Maryland, Medical Center