In some areas of the world, these edible species are grown as dietary staples. One, Dioscorea villosaâotherwise known as the Mexican wild yam â is a tuberous plant that produces a thick, starchy underground rhizome. It is this root that is used in many herbal remedies â in both nutritional and medicinal products.
The wild yam seems like a natural solution, as it contains diosgenin, a steroid that can be used to synthesize various hormones â estrogen, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and progesterone â in the laboratory. Yet while a small number of animal studies have demonstrated in vivo synthesis and hormone surge, studies in humans have not successfully replicated this process.