Wild Yam

Wild Yam is used for symptoms of menopause. Wild yam is thought to work by estrogen-like effects.

Wild Yam Overview

Reviewed: August 13, 2014

Wild yam, also known as wild Mexican yam, is a vine native to North America. The roots and rootstock are used in natural medicines. 

Wild yam is thought to work by estrogen-like effects.  

There is no scientific evidence that wild yam contains progesterone or estrogen. Wild yam contains diosgenin, a plant based estrogen, which can chemically be converted into the progesterone. However, the body cannot convert diosgenin to progesterone. It can only be done in a lab. 

Wild yam is available in creams and gels. Wild yam is also available as a capsule, liquid, dried root, and tincture to be taken by mouth. 

Wild Yam Cautionary Labels


As a cream or gel, wild yam is used for symptoms of menopause, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menstrual irregularity.

When taken orally, wild yam is use for arthritis pain, asthma, morning sickness, painful menstruation, bronchitis, whooping cough, cramps, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and chronic diarrhea. 

Wild Yam has not been proven effective for all of the uses listed above. Wild yam may be used for other conditions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Side Effects of Wild Yam

Common side effects of wild yam are unknown. 

Large doses of wild yam can cause the following: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

This is not a complete list of wild yam side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.



Wild Yam Interactions

No drug interactions have been evaluated. However, you should tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Not all interactions are known or reported and new drug interactions are continually being reported.

Wild Yam Precautions

Special precautions & warnings:

  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using wild yam if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to become pregnant. 
  • Although rare, allergic reaction to wild yam can occur, including rashes, asthma, and other symptoms. 
  • There is no evidence that wild yam contains estrogen or progesterone. However, some wild yam creams may be promoted as a natural source of progesterone, when its really synthetic progesterone or comes form other sources. Products are often not labeled as containing added progesterone, and the amount in the creams can vary. Progesterone is absorbed through the skin and can have an effect on the whole body. Progesterone can have side effects such as headaches, breast tenderness, upset stomach, constipation, tiredness, and irritability. Rare but serious side effects include dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath, blurred vision, seizures, and swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat. 
  • Do not use wild yam if you have a hormone-sensitive cancer (breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer) or have kidney disease.