WILD YAM or COLIC ROOT (Dioscorea villosa; DIOSCOREACEAE)
Wild yam, colic root, china root, yuma, rheumatism root, wild yamwurzel, liver root, devil's bones and dioscorea.
Stem Delicate and slender vine, twining climber, wooly, and reddish-brown in color. 1/5 inch in diameter, and 5 to 18 feet long.
Leaves Ovate (2-4 inches in length and 3/4 of the length in width) cordate (heart-shaped), acute and glabrous or smooth on the upper surface with soft hairs on the lower.
Flowers Very small and pale green in color with panicles.
Fruit Triangular winged capsules with 1 to 2 flat seeds in each cell.
Rhizome A long, branched, woody cylindrical tube, crooked (often compressed, bent and nodular) and 1/4 to 4/5 inch thick. The stem is scaly above with slender tough roots beneath, and pale brown in color. The fracture is scaly to short, yellowish internally with scattered wood bundles. The powder is whitish.
Taste Starchy and insipid, and afterwards acrid.
Rhizome or root.
Antispasmodic, relaxant (sedative), stimulant, antibilious, diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, hepatic, cholagogue, stomachic, tonic, anti-emetic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic and emetic (large doses).
Wild yam is considered one of the best anti-catarrhal agents. It has been proven very valuable in pulmonary and catarrhal conditions. As a stimulant, relaxant, and antispasmodic, it is beneficial in all cases of nervous excitability. Wild yam relaxes the muscular fibers, soothes the nerves, and gives positive relief from pains, especially those associated with bilious colic, gall stones, and uterus. It is of great value in nervousness, restlessness, nausea, and pains that are common to pregnancy. Wild yam has a potent tonic effect on the uterus when taken throughout the period of pregnancy. It is excellent for relieving the trying cramps during pregnancy (especially during the latter stages), and will greatly assist in preventing a miscarriage. Wild yam relieves flatulence of the stomach and bowels, and soothes any abdominal and intestinal irritations and spasms.
Bilious colic, rheumatism, jaundice, stomach catarrh, hardening and blocking of the liver, nausea of pregnancy, cholera morbus, neuralgic affections, spasmodic hiccough, whooping cough, spasmodic asthma, bronchitis, dysmenorrhea, flatulence, gall stone pains, nervousness, restlessness, uterine cramps, miscarriage preventative, hysteria, vomiting, abdominal and intestinal irritation.
Decoction, fluid extract, powder and tincture.
Decoction (strong) 2 teaspoons to 2 fluid ounces in water 3 to 4 times daily, between meals.
Fluid extract 1/2 to 1 fluid teaspoon.
Powder 300-650 milligrams.
Tincture 5 to 20 drops.
Give wild yam decoction with a small quantity of ginger (Zingiber officinale) as a diffusive stimulant.
Take wild yam decoction in large doses.
Colic (all forms), abdominal and intestinal irritation, spasms, spasmodic asthma, vomiting and hepatic congestion:
Take 1 tablespoonful of the warm decoction every 30 minutes until relieved.
Liver affections, rheumatic pains, spasms:
Take 1 to 3 cupfuls of cold wild yam decoction during the day. Mix this well with saliva, one mouthful at a time.
Rheumatism, bronchitis, spasms, asthma, whooping cough, liver congestion, nausea of pregnancy, jaundice, bilious colic, etc.:
Use the strong decoction; see "Formulas
Uterine tonic, prevent miscarriage, and to ease pains:
You may use another form of the formula (i.e. decoction instead of fluid extract, etc.) by keeping the ingredient quantities proportionate.
Strong decoction of wild yam (Bilious colic, rheumatism, bronchitis, spasmodic asthma, vomiting, hepatic congestion, nausea of pregnancy, jaundice, etc.):
2 ounces Wild yam, cut (Dioscorea villosa)
1 quart Distilled or D-cell water
4 ounces Glycerine
Put the herb and water in an appropriate vessel and boil slowly for 20 minutes. Strain, return to the clean vessel and reduce by simmering to 3/4 pint. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the glycerine. Let stand until cool, bottle, and keep in a cool place. The sweetening may be added while hot, or the dosage may be taken plain or in honey water.
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoonful in water 3 to 4 times daily, between meals. 2 fluid ounces may be taken in severe cases. Children: 1 teaspoonful or more, according to age and condition.
2 ounces Wild yam, fluid extract (Dioscorea villosa)
1 ounce Pleurisy root, fluid extract (Asclepias tuberosa)
1 teaspoonful as often as is required.
2 tsp Wild yam, fluid extract (Dioscorea villosa)
2 tsp Pleurisy root, fluid extract (Asclepias tuberosa)
10 drops Cinnamon, essence (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
10 drops Anise, essence (Pimpinella anisum)
Mix the herbs thoroughly. Four ounces of simple syrup may be added, or the mixture may be taken with honey water.
1/2 teaspoonful in water (or honey water) every 15 minutes or as often as required.
Uterine tonic, to prevent miscarriage, to ease cramps and pains:
1 ounce Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
1 ounce Squaw vine (Mitchella repens)
1 ounce False unicorn (Aletris farinosa)
1/2 ounce Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
Simmer for 20 minutes in 1 quart or water, strain and sweeten to taste.
2 fluid ounces every 3 to 4 hours.
Wild yam combines well with other uterine agents, and acts as a uterine tonic and antispasmodic during pregnancy. When using wild yam as a uterine agent, combine it with ginger (Zingiber officinale). For the pulmonary and stomach areas, combine with cayenne (Capsicum minimum; C. fastigiatum, C. annum) and golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis), etc.
Wild yam is a perennial root and an annual vine, found throughout the United States. It thrives best in moist places, running over bushes and fences and twining about the growth in thickets and hedges.
Wild yam flowers from June to July.
For alternate nervine and antispasmodic herbs to be used when the foregoing are not available, please see to chapter 17