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.
Diosgenin from wild yam is used to make a variety of steroids for medical use, including progesterone, cortisone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Wild yam extracts can offer many of the same benefits of these pharmaceutically produced steroids.