1 Wild Yam Extract , also known as colic root or Dioscorea villosa, is a tuberous vine that is native to both China and North America. Although each locale grows a different species of wild yam, both species contain diosgenin, the active ingredient in the plant. Traditionally, the wild yam has been used for a variety of ailments, ranging from menopausal issues to mild cramps, but modern research has shown mixed results as to its effectiveness. Consult with a qualified health practitioner before taking wild yam extract, particularly if you are taking any other medication.
2 In North America, Wild Yam Extract has traditionally been used to treat menstrual cramps, coughs, morning sickness, inflammation and problems related to childbirth, as well as colic and a variety of digestive issues. Similar uses abound in traditional Chinese medicine, with the additions of using the herb for its supposed anti-aging properties, as well as a treatment for urinary difficulties and lowering blood pressure.
3 The active ingredient in a plant is the part that actually affects the chemistry of the body. In Wild Yam Extract , that is diosgenin, which is a form of steroid. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, diosgenin can be synthesized to make progesterone, a key hormone in the reproductive cycle and one that is adversely affected during menopause. The first birth-control pills were created using diosgenin extracts. One of the problems, however, is that diosgenin has to be processed in a lab to create progestone; it cannot convert to progesterone naturally in the human body.