One of the worst parts of womanhood is period pain. According to many studies conducted on menstrual disturbances, dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) stands out as having the highest impact on women due to its high prevalence and its ability to disrupt daily life. A study conducted in Swedeni showed that more than 50% of all menstruating women experience some pain during menstruation. It has also been reported by a senior obstetrician that probably 5 – 10% of girls in their late teens suffer from severe spasmodic dysmenorrhoea interrupting their educational and social life.ii
Wild Yam is a known anti-spasmodic (anti spasm) herb and female tonic traditionally used to support and assist in the maintenance of female health. Wild Yam has many uses in the body and it was first used by the Native American Indians for a variety of ailments.
Contrary to popular belief, Wild Yam does not contain oestrogen or progesterone but it does contain the steroidal saponin aglycone diosin. Diosin may be converted to diosgenin in the body when broken down by digestion in the presence of healthy gut flora. Although Wild Yam’s exact mechanism of action on the hormones is not fully known, it is thought that Diosgenin may be the reason it has a long history of successful use for the relief of painful periods, including pelvic uterine cramps and also relief from digestive colic and spasm.
Because hormones work in cycles it is wise to give the body 3-4 cycles on the herb to see its effectiveness. If there is a long standing condition of hormonal imbalance then Wild Yam may be used for a longer period of time to support the maintenance of general female wellbeing.
According to traditional usage lower doses of Wild Yam are known to boost fertility but higher doses can have the reverse effect- a contraceptive type effect. So if you are taking Wild Yam for boosting fertility then it is best to take no more than 1000mg per day.
i Andersche B, Milson I. (1982) An epidemiological study of young women with dysmenorrhoea. Am J Obstet Gynecol.;144:655–60. [PubMed]
ii Dawn CS. (1990) Textbook of Gynaecology and Contraception. 10th ed. Calcutta: Dawn Books;