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Utech, Frederick H. (2002). "Polygonatum biflorum". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 26. New York and Oxford – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.Eric Toensmeier (December 13, 2009). "Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum – giant Solomon's seal". Retrieved July 28, 2013.
Also known as colic root, wild yam is a twining, tuberous vine. One species is native to North America; another is native to China. Both contain diosgenin and have similar medicinal properties. There are an estimated 600 species of yam in the genus Dioscorea. Many of them are wild species that flourish in damp woodlands and thickets, and not all of them contain diosgenin. Wild yam is a perennial vine with pale brown, knotty, woody cylindrical rootstocks, or tubers. Unlike sweet potato yams, the roots are not fleshy. Instead they are dry, narrow, and crooked, and bear horizontal branches of long creeping runners. The thin, reddish-brown stems grow to a length of over 30 feet. The roots initially taste starchy, but soon after taste bitter and acrid.Wild yam is a vine native to North America (species: villosa) and has also been called, "Colic Root". It became a popular ingredient in natural products (natural progesterone creams), somewhat erroneously , due to poorly interpreted science*. This irresponsible use of Wild Yam is disheartening because this plant is rare or endangered in much of its natural range in eastern North America. In the 1700's and 1800's wild yam was used by herbalists and Eclectic physicians for menstrual complaints, assisting with the pain of child labor, and for digestive disturbances in children and coughs.
Since the plant is rich in soapy-tasting compounds called sapponins, it has a fairly bitter taste; and therefore it has not been consumed as a food source, but rather, used for supplemental purposes. Wild yam (scientific name Dioscorea villosa) is a plant native to North America, Mexico, and part of Asia. The root and bulb of the plant have long been used for traditional medicine. In recent years, the phytosteroid diosgenin has been identified as the key medicinal component. Phytosteroids are plant-based steroids that are similar to the steroids produced in the human body. Utech, Frederick H. (2002). "Polygonatum biflorum". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 26. New York and Oxford – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)