Is Wild Yam Cream Effective for Menopausal Symptoms?
Wild yam is known in the scientific community as Dioscorea villosa, but most people confuse wild yam with the orange vegetable that we consume during the winter months. Wild yam is actually a vine that grows in North America, and is a popular natural treatment for women looking to treat hormonal imbalance and/or menopausal symptoms. Often these products are marketed as creams or gels that can be rubbed onto the skin (transdermal application) to absorb progesterone.
Why Wild Yams?
Wild yams contain a chemical called DIOSGENIN that can be made into various sex hormone like estrogen, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and progesterone. However, the body does not have the ability to convert diosgenin into a steroid hormone, and this can only occur through laboratory procedures [1,2].
A double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study looked at the safety and efficacy of wild yam extract cream with regards to the management of menopausal symptoms over a 3 month period . The study looked at 23 healthy women, who were provided wild yam extract cream and placebo in random order. Efficacy of treatment was monitored through diaries (self-reporting), blood and saliva testing. The study found no statistically significant difference between wild yam and placebo cream. The wild yam cream appeared to have no major side-effects with short-term use; however, long-term use is associated with side effects like nausea and vomiting [1,3]. There is limited data that supports the efficacy of wild yam, and further research is needed. However, based on currently evidence, wild yam does not appear to have any benefit for reducing menopausal symptoms and should not be use to offset the effect of conjugated estrogen (Premarin) on the uterus.
Some over the counter creams may actual contain synthetic progestin (called medroxyprogesterone acetate) even though the products are marketed as natural wild yam creams. Individuals may want to be cautions with these creams, unless being medically supervised by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
In health and beauty,
American Cancer Society. 2008. Wild Yam. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/wild-yam [December 17th, 2014].
Medline Plus. 2014. Wild Yam. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/970.html [Decemebr 17th, 2014].
Komesaroff PA, Black CV, Cable V and Sudhir K. Effects of wild yam extract on menopausal symptoms, lipids, and sex hormones in healthy menopausal women. Climacteric. 2011: Jun; 4(2): 144-50.
Easierlifestyle. 2014. Sex and the City’s Samantha goes wile for JASON Yam creme. Available at: http://www.easier.com/95671-sex-and-the-citys-samantha-wild-jason-yam-creme.html [December 17th, 2014].