I see it over and over again in holistic health groups…women stating that they use wild yam cream as a natural source of progesterone. They usually recommend it when a woman is asking about progesterone support for pregnancy, a short luteal phase, or if they’ve had their hormones tested and they are determined to be low in progesterone.  The problem is that wild yam is not a natural source of progesterone!

It’s true that wild yam contains a component used to make progesterone, but to say that these progesterone products are natural is the equivalent of saying that aspirin is natural because it uses a component from willow bark in the final product.  But even that isn’t a perfect comparison because the salicylic acid that both the aspirin and willow bark contain actually is effectively used by the body even in herbal form.

The problem with the component of wild yam that is used to make progesterone is that your body literally has no way to turn that component into progesterone, and progesterone itself does not exist in wild yams.  Let me explain. 

Wild yam, also known as Dioscorea villosa (NOT the edible yams you might be thinking of) contains something called diosin, and if your body has the right gut flora in adequate amounts, it converts that diosin to diosgenin.  Once this conversion takes place, it is then absorbed across the mucus membranes in your bowel into your bloodstream.   But that diosgenin does not go on to be converted into progesterone in your body.  Additionally, without the gut flora, the diosin never even converts into diosgenin, so there is question as to whether this component is even useful at all in its topical form. 

Now, if you’re thinking, “But MY progesterone cream has worked really well for me!” let me share a few more details about why that might be.

First, if you look on the packaging, does your cream state that it contains USP progesterone?  If so, then that is lab-made progesterone.  Sure, it might contain wild yam, but the wild yam isn’t doing anything for your progesterone, and the product itself isn’t completely natural. USP progesterone is bioidentical progesterone, but it is still made in a lab.  Am I saying that you should avoid this at all costs? No, not at all.  That choice is yours to make.  I just want you to be aware that you’re not using as natural of a product as you might think you are.

The other possibility if your cream doesn’t contain any added progesterone is that the wild yam is working in other ways.  Believe it or not, there is research showing that wild yam CAN alter your estrogen levels without any lab intervention necessary! It can also help to improve the quality or quantity of your cervical mucus, help with spasms and inflammation for conditions like UTIs, painful periods, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis. Thus, if you’ve used it for fertility concerns, and it has “worked”…it likely was due to one of these other known benefits.

I absolutely love that herbs are complex and act in so many ways.  While pharmaceuticals may have their place, the Lord didn’t fill our world with single components.  Instead, He gave us the whole plants, so once we understand them, we really can use them to our advantage.  I haven’t even gone into all the great herbs for liver support that are also useful for balancing hormone levels.  I’ll save that one for another day!

But now you at least know what’s in your wild yam progesterone cream if you choose to use it.

How to Get Useful Labwork Without a Doctor

How to Get Useful Labwork Without a Doctor

If you’re like many women who are frustrated that your doctor won’t order the blood tests you want, you’re in luck. Did you know that in most states (with a few exceptions listed below), you can order your own lab work directly? And in many cases, this is cheaper than...

7 Herbs to Eliminate Period Pain

7 Herbs to Eliminate Period Pain

I talk to women nearly weekly who struggle with painful periods, some of them for decades. They may or may not be getting some relief from things like birth control, ibuprofen, or other painkillers, but they don’t want to be on these things anymore.  If that’s you...

My Favorite Herbal Books

My Favorite Herbal Books

My Favorite Herbal Books By: Denise Brusveen, MS   I get asked often for herbal advice, and sometimes people ask me about my favorite books too.  You just can’t beat having the information in your own hands for when you need it!  So let me share my favorite books...

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup has held a place in my refrigerator for close to 10 years now.  It's so easy to make, and it's something great to have on hand should you (or one of your family members) start coming down with cold symptoms.  For the first couple years, I gave a...

Potassium – Why You Need It, How to Get It

Potassium – Why You Need It, How to Get It

I’ve been asked before what my favorite mineral is. While it’s hard to choose just one, if I HAD to pick, I’d say potassium. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that’s a weird choice, especially when things like magnesium are all the rage these days. The reason I...

Delicious (Healthy) Pumpkin Seed Chocolate

Delicious (Healthy) Pumpkin Seed Chocolate

Zinc is getting a lot of attention right now for improving immune function, but I was interested in this important mineral long before that and discovered that pumpkin seeds are an excellent source. But I wasn’t impressed with their flavor plain, so I started...

Adaptogens – A Woman’s Best Friend

Adaptogens – A Woman’s Best Friend

You might be asking, “Adapt-a-what?” Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help you to balance your body’s stress response. In a good year, many women could use help with that. But in 2020? Sign practically everyone up! One of the most important benefits of...

Birth Control and Period Problems

Birth Control and Period Problems

How are severe menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, irregular cycles, PCOS, and endometriosis all treated by mainstream medical doctors? Birth control. The problem with this “solution” is that it does nothing to actually fix the problem. It merely masks the symptoms, and...

The Best Plant Ally For Bee and Wasp Stings!

The Best Plant Ally For Bee and Wasp Stings!

While bees, wasps, and other stinging insects are out all summer long, they become especially active here in the fall…and mean! But have no fear because you may have the perfect remedy to treat a sting growing right in your yard! Plantain is considered a weed by many,...