African Bitter Yam, Cluster Yam, Dioscorea dumetorum, Esuri Yam, Esuru, Helmia dumetorum, Igname Amère, Igname Sauvage, Igname Trifoliolée, Ikamba, Inhame-bravo, Name Amargo, Name de Tres Hojas, Ñame Amargo, Ono, Three-leaved Yam, Trifoliate Yam.
Bitter yam is a plant that grows in Africa. It has a fleshy, potato-like root (tuber) that is used for food in times of famine or for making medicine. Wild forms of bitter yam are likely to contain poisons and must be soaked and boiled before use. But bitter yams that are raised by farmers generally do not have the toxins because safer plants are cultivated selectively.
People take bitter yam for diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), stomach pain (colic), menstrual disorders, and schistosomiasis. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by parasitic worms.
Be careful not to confuse bitter yam (Dioscorea dumetorum) with wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) or air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). All three are sometimes called bitter yam.
How does it work?
Bitter yam contains chemicals that might lower blood sugar levels. However, bitter yam has not been studied in people.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Stomach pain (colic).
- Menstrual disorders.
- A disease caused by parasitic worms called schistosomiasis.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Wild, uncooked bitter yam can be UNSAFE to eat or take by mouth as medicine. It contains chemicals that can be poisonous and cause seizures. Bitter yam also contains chemicals similar to the prescription drug digoxin (Lanoxin). These chemicals could cause a dangerously irregular heartbeat.
There isn't enough information to know whether the forms of bitter yam that are raised by farmers are safe to use as medicine, even though these forms are more likely to be free of poisonous chemicals.
Digoxin (Lanoxin)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Bitter yam contains chemicals similar to the prescription drug digoxin (Lanoxin). Taking bitter yam along with digoxin (Lanoxin) might increase the effects of digoxin (Lanoxin) and increase the risk of side effects. Do not take bitter yam if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin) without talking to your healthcare professional.
The appropriate dose of bitter yam depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bitter yam. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Bevan CW, Broadbent JL, Hirst J. A convulsant alkaloid of Dioscorea dumetorum. Nature 1956;177(4516):935. View abstract.
Emiola LO. Multiple components of alpha-amylase in germinating tubers of a yam, Dioscorea dumetorum. J Biochem 1980;87:289-95. View abstract.
Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler's Honest Herbal, 4th ed., Binghamton, NY: Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.
Nimenibo-Uadia R. Control of hyperlipidaemia, hypercholesterolaemia and hyperketonaemia by aqueous extract of Dioscorea dumetorum tuber. Trop J Pharm Res 2003;2:183-9. Available at: http://www.bioline.org.br/request?pr03009.