This herb is the rhizome of Dioscorea appasita Thumb. of the family Dioscoreaceae. The chinese yam, grown in the Henan province (Xinxiang county) is believed to be the best variety, although Chinese yams found in other provinces (including Hebei, Shandong, and Shanxi in the northern, southern, and southwestern provinces) are equally effective. Harvested in the winter, it is cleaned, skinned, smoked with sulfur, and dried, or further processed with wheat bran and sliced.
The active enzyme in yam, diosgenin, is a natural steroid which has anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. Since the enzymes in yam extract act as a steroid in the human body, athletes have also been known to use yam to improve athletic performance. Because it is natural, wild yam is often less harsh on the body and has a more gradual effect on bodybuilding performance and muscle tone.
Yam can be used as supplement which comes in dried capsule, pill, or cream versions and is used to treat and alleviate a variety of conditions. It continues to be used today for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis as well as for regulating the digestive and reproductive tracts.
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