Dioscoreaceae (Yam Family)
Other Names: Wild yam, Atlantic yam, Devil’s bones, Colic root, China root
Description: Perennial twining vine; stem smooth. Leaves alternate with lower leaves in whorls of 3-8, heart shaped, hairy beneath, veins conspicuous. Flowers not showy.
Where Found:Wet woods. CT to TN; TX to MN
Medicinal Part: Root
Preparation: Freshly dried root tea, Root tincture
Uses: Freshly dried root tea formerly used by physicians for colic, gastrointestinal irritations, morning sickness, asthma, rheumatism, and “chronic gastris of drunkards”. American Indians used root tea to relieve labor pains. Traditionally used for indigestion, gas, croup, muscle spasms, asthma, uterine tonic, cancer, and to loosen and release phlegm.
Constituents and Effects: Diosgenin: used currently to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. Most of the steroid hormones used in modern medicine, especially those in contraceptives, were developed from elaborately processed chemical components derived from yams (diosgenins).