Wild yam and progesterone.

Botanical name: 

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: How does Wild Yam (dioscorea) affect Osteopero
From: Michael Moore <hrbmoore.rt66.com>
Date: 30 Jun 1995 18:14:54 GMT

> Wild Yam - Dioscorea villosa - is commonly known as colic root. It should be flowering now (doesn't grow this far north) and is a vine that grows in hedges and over fences. The root is the active medicinal part. It's given to colicky babies and helps with morning sickness.
> Until Susan Weed suggested it I'd never heard of it being used to prevent osteoporosis. She says it's a hormone balancer that promotes natural progesterone production.

As I was away in the field (Wyoming and Montana are GREEN this year!), I don't know who said what to whom, but here is my usual Dioscorea tirade:

Wild Yam of North America is Dioscorea villosa or the somewhat vague D. quadrangularis, plants of temperate hardwood forests, with a long and illustrious history for use in spasms and tenesmus of smooth muscle "tubes", such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, bile ducts, ureters and the intestinal tract. The mechanism seems poorly defined but is NOT the result of the usual prostaglandin inhibition.

Mexican Yam was chosen for its cheapness as the original source of saponins for manufacturing progesterones following the Marker Degradation Method...and has NOT been used for decades. Diosgenin, the saponin, has NO SIMILARITY WHATSOEVER to ANY human synthesis of ANY steroid hormone...it was simply an expedient starting compound for the CHEMICAL synthesis of steroids back in the 1940s and 1950s. Yucca, Agave, Sarsaparilla, even raw potatoes contain saponins just as easily manipulated in this fashion...but were discarded for financial reasons...the several tropical Dioscoreas were cheaper to use...Soy Bean derivitives are mostly used these days (Cheap!), and pregnant mares (please don't ask...it will spoil your appetite) are a primary source for "Natural Progesterone". The "progesterone" we are talking about with plant precursors as a chemical starter, is a clever group of testesterone relatives that, when taken orally, leave part of their structure in the liver and proceed into general circulation as fair approximations of progesterone.

Natural Progesterone (whether derived from mares or the corpus luteum of a woman) is digested into 99+% inactive nutrients when taken orally...it must be injected or applied topically (as with the "Wild Yam" creams that may contain some Dioscorea villosa substances but ACTUALLY work because, hidden somewhere in the contents, they contain pharmaceutical Natural Progesterone...by whatever name).

PLEASE NOTE: The ONLY precursor a real human being can use for synthesis of any sterodal hormone is Low Density Cholesterol or recycled former steroids present in the blood stream. There is SELDOM any lack of the raw materials, except in certain well-defined (and gnarly) metabolic disorders, or extended (and serious) malnutrition.

IF HORMONES seem off, it is VERY unlikely that the reasons have to do with lack of raw materials. The SIGNALS are off, either from the hypothalamus, the pituitary or the target tissues, feedback information is being scrambled, etc. IT AINT RAW MATERIALS.

Instead of lurching around looking for pseudo-scientific medical-sounding reductionist analogs to pharmaceutical products (the docs do this whole process FAR BETTER...they invented it), we should be trying to shift, change or tickle the controls, from whence cometh the hormone imbalance. THIS is the turf of alternative medicine, helping to correct imbalances of energy and stress, NOT trying to come up with imperfect or unreal "natural" sources of what is in reality a purely medical approach: using an analog of a human hormone to mimic the hormone, irregardless of the CAUSE of the imbalance.

Some of my older books contain misinformation (by my current standards), and Susun Weed, bless her, has made a few such errors in HER books as well.

Michael Moore (hrbmoore.rt66.com)