Monday, June 21, 2010

Wild Yams & Health Benefits

The wild yam has been used worldwide for centuries to improve health and more. The wild yam (contrary to popular belief, it's NOT related to the sweet potato) is native to North America, Mexico and Asia, though many species now exist throughout the world. It is actually a vine, of which the roots and rhizome (stem) are used medicinally.

Traditionally, Native Americans used wild yam to relieve labor pains, morning sickness, colic, asthma, rheumatism, joint pain and gastritis.

The Chinese had their own uses for a wild yam tonic, which they used to help the liver, aid digestion and relax the muscles. And in India, Ayurvedic practitioners used yam to help with impotence and infertility.

These are eight key health benefits of wild yam:

Reduce inflammation: Wild yam has anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used to help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.

Digestive aid: Herbalists have used wild yam to treat colic, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome.

Lower blood sugar levels: Dioscoretine, an alkaloid compound in wild yam, has been shown in animal studies to lower blood sugar levels.

Antioxidant properties: A clinical trial found that wild yam has free-radical-fighting antioxidant properties.

Good cholesterol: Another study found that wild yam extract might help raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind) in the elderly.

Relax muscles (and relieve cramps): Wild yam has been used by herbalists to help relax muscles, which may occur, in part, due to substances in wild yam called alkaloids. This may also provide relief for menstrual cramps and endometriosis.

Regulate metabolic function: Substances in wild yam may help to regulate the body's metabolism.

Enhance virility: Traditional uses for wild yam suggest that it may be useful for enhancing virility.

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