Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Biodentical Hormones: Why Are They Still Controversial?

Bioidentical Hormones: Why Are They Still Controversial?

Wild Yam

Wild yam is a plant. It contains a chemical, diosgenin, which can be made in the laboratory into various steroids, such as estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The root and the bulb of the plant are used as a source of diosgenin, which is prepared as an “extract,” a liquid that contains concentrated diosgenin.

There are over 600 species of wild yam. Some species are grown specifically as a source of diosgenin for laboratories to use in making steroids. These species are generally not eaten due to a bitter flavor. Only about 12 of the 600 species are considered edible.

Diosgenin or wild yam is often promoted as a “natural alterative” to estrogen therapy, so you will see it used for estrogen replacement therapy,
vaginal dryness in older women, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menstrual cramps, weak bones (osteoporosis), increasing energy and sexual drive in men and women, and breast enlargement. Wild yam does seem to have some estrogen-like activity, but it is not actually converted into estrogen in the body. It takes a laboratory to do that.

Similarly, you will also see wild yam and diosgenin promoted as a “natural DHEA.” This is because in the laboratory DHEA is made from diosgenin, but this chemical reaction is not believed to occur in the human body. So taking wild yam extract will not increase DHEA levels in people. Individuals who are interested in taking DHEA should avoid wild yam products labeled as "natural DHEA."

Wild yam is also used for treating a disorder of the
intestines called diverticulosis, gallbladder pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and for increasing energy.

Some women apply wild yam creams to the
skin to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
Wild yam cream
Wild yam cream is said to have hormone balancing properties, assisting with menopausal symptoms like hot flushes. Some manufacturers claim that their product either contains progesterone or can increase progesterone levels in the body. This is incorrect as products containing progesterone are only available on prescription. Similarly, the human body is not capable of converting the ingredients in wild yam (eg.,diosgenin) to progesterone.
Evidence – There is currently no quality evidence to support the use of wild yam cream in relieving menopausal symptoms (12).

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