Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Had Enough Wild Yams?

I have been using wild yam cream for the past 12 years. Should I ever stop using it?

Answer (Published 6/3/2003)

Wild yams (Dioscorea) have been promoted as a source of natural progesterone for the relief of menopausal symptoms or a host of other female problems ranging from menstrual cramps to monthly mood swings. Claims for the effectiveness of wild yam cream are based on the fact that wild yams contain a precursor of steroid hormones called diosgenin. However, diosgenin itself has no hormonal activity and can't be converted in the human body into anything that does.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness for Your Outlook - Happiness: it's just a click away. Especially when you have Dr. Weil guiding the way! has daily tools, weekly checklists, videos, recipes, and more, all designed to help you achieve contentment and happiness - naturally. Learn more today: start your 10-day free trial!

Many women prefer natural progesterone products to synthetic progesterone (progestins) typically prescribed as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). You don't need progesterone if you've had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus. If you do have a uterus, replacing estrogen alone can overstimulate the uterine lining, raising the risk of endometrial cancer. Adding progesterone protects the uterus.

If you have been using wild yam cream in the belief that it is supplying enough progesterone to offset the effects of estrogen replacement on the uterus, I'm afraid that you haven't been getting the protection you need. In fact, I'm not satisfied that studies have established the efficacy or long-term safety of any of the natural progesterone creams used to protect the uterus from estrogen replacement. Most of the over-the-counter brands contain too little of the hormone, if they contain any at all. I recommend oral micronized progesterone, a prescription form of natural progesterone available in capsules (under the brand name Prometrium) or progesterone from a "compounding pharmacy" that customizes formulas according to your doctor's instructions.

If you have been using wild yam cream and estrogen replacement for 12 years, I would recommend taking a break from the estrogen and giving up the wild yam cream. Talk to your physician about your need for osteoporosis prevention. If you have hot flashes or other menopausal discomforts, try black cohosh (Cimifiuga racemosa); I would recommend the standardized product called Remifemin plus 800 IUs of natural vitamin E (or 80mg as mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols) daily. Two to three daily servings of whole soy foods (tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk) will give you some safe plant estrogens (isoflavones) that may help relieve symptoms.

Dr. Andrew Weil

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here