Yam root: application, effect and disadvantages

Photo: Colourbox.de / Andie Alpion

The yam root is still relatively unknown in Europe. In many parts of the world, however, it is a staple food and is also said to have healing properties.

The yam root originally comes from West Africa. Today it is grown in many tropical areas of the world. Because of its high nutrient content, it is an important staple food in many South American and African countries. The roots can grow up to two meters long and are rich in starch, fiber, potassium and vitamins.

But the root is also said to be able to work wonders medicinally. At least that is what some providers on the Internet who offer the yam root in various forms promise:

  • as a gel or cream
  • as powder
  • as tea
  • in capsule or tablet form

Women in particular should be able to benefit from the effects of the “wild yams”. But what about these promises?

Does the yam have a hormonal effect?

Yam is also available as a dietary supplement.
Yam is also available as a dietary supplement.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / aixclusive)

The yam root is said to help women during menopause, menstrual cramps and as an anti-aging product. The suppliers refer to the hormone diosgenin contained in the plant, which is similar to the human corpus luteum hormone progesterone.

Along with estrogen, progesterone is an essential part of the female hormonal balance and is produced in the ovaries. The hormone plays an important role in the second phase of the menstrual cycle and during menopause. Yam products are said to help compensate for the loss of progesterone during menopause.

However, it has not been scientifically clarified whether the body can produce the body’s own progesterone from diosgenin. By no means can one speak of “natural” progesterone, as some providers do. A hormonal effect of the yam root has not yet been proven, we could not find any meaningful studies on this. Therefore, yams are sold exclusively as a dietary supplement – even if the suppliers try to make a medical appearance and thus mislead the customers.

Yam root: storage and preparation

You can find the whole root mainly in African or Asian shops. They are available with white, yellow or reddish flesh. But the skin is brown in all. Sweet potatoes or parsnips are comparable in taste and consistency. If the yam is firm and smooth, it is fresh. It should be stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks this way.

It is important to know that the raw yam is poisonous and must therefore be boiled or fried. It can be used to make puree, similar to the preparation of mashed potatoes, or fried strips. Yams root fries are also easy to prepare in the oven.

Yam tea is available at some pharmacies, health food stores, and online. If you want to make your own tea from the fresh yam, you have to boil 20 grams of the root in three quarters of a liter of water for 20 minutes and strain the brew. However, due to the long transport route, you should rather avoid the yam root.

Traditional use of yam

Yam plant.
Yam plant.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / leoleobobeo)

First of all, the yam is a food. In traditional South American medicine, however, it is also used as a medicinal plant – but not in tablet or powder form, but as food or tea. It is said to have various healing powers, but there is no solid scientific evidence. This is how she should:

  • Relieve spasms (e.g. in the gastrointestinal tract)
  • promote digestion (through increased bile production)
  • have an anti-inflammatory effect (e.g. in rheumatic diseases)
  • help with circulatory disorders in the arms and legs
  • act as an expectorant when coughing
  • strengthen bones and thus prevent osteoporosis

  • relieve mild menopausal symptoms

However, there are not enough medical studies. Do not diagnose yourself based on this article. Accordingly, medical advice should be obtained in the event of complaints and it should be discussed whether the yam root could be a possible additional element of a treatment.

Read more on Techzle\.com:

  • Buying dietary supplements – does it make sense?
  • Black cohosh: Effect on menopause and PMS
  • Prepare sweet potatoes: 3 quick recipes

Revised by Lena Kirchner

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