Yam Birth Control Without Fear
by Willa Shaffer
Wild yam is a popular herbal contraceptive. Wild yam does not interfere with the normal monthly cycle. Women taking it continue to ovulate as usual. It is speculated that this herb's mechanism of action renders the unity of the egg and sperm ineffective, although it is not known how this is possible. One benefit of using the wild yam for contraception is that a woman can become pregnant as soon as one or two months after discontinuing use of the herb. Wild yam is not known to have negative side effects. Nature's Field July/August, 1995 pg. 7
recommendation for using wild yam for contraception:
Take 1650 mg. of Mexican wild yam twice daily at the same time each day, morning and evening. Take for two months before it is effective. Do not take the birth control pill during this time. Antibiotics and herbal antibiotics including goldenseal, echinacea, garlic, oregon grape and more than 6,000 mg. of vitamin C weakens the desired effect. St. John's Wort may also weaken the desired effect
of the wild yam. Tylenol® and other acetominophens such as panadol
and aspirin-free Anacin® may also interfere with the desired action
of the wild yam. It is possible that ANY drug may interfere with the
If you miss a dose, Willa suggests that you abstain from sexual activity or use another form of birth control for two weeks as you build the Yam back up in your system.
No birth control method is 100% effective. Planned Parenthood recommends that women use two forms of contraception.
What other herbalists
say about wild yam root
As with most herbs, traditionally, there have been many uses for wild yam
root. Known by the scientific name Dioscorea villosa, wild yam root is described by Dr. John Christopher as having the following therapeutic actions - antispasmotic, relaxant (sedative,) stimulant, antibilious, diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, hepatic, chologogue, stomachic, tonic, anti-emetic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic and emetic (large doses.) Dr. Christopher goes on to describe some of the actions more specifically and then lists no less than two dozen specific conditions in which wil yam root has proven effective. (see School of Natural Healing,
by Dr. John Christopher.)
Humbart Santillo maintains that wild yam root is used in many gland balancing formulas because of the presence in its chemical make-up of the steroid-like substances used to make pharmaceutical birth control pills. He goes on to list many of the same uses and conditions listed by Dr. Christopher. At the end of his entry on wild yam, Mr. Santillo includes the following note - "When given for afterbirth pains, it is better to use ten drops of the tincture in cold water. The hot decoction causes too great of relaxation to the uterus and could permit hemorrhage. (see Natural Healing with Herbs, by
If you ever have occassion
to sample it, you will find that the decoction or tea is particularly
unappetizing because of the strong bitter taste of the herb.
Welsh herbalist, David Hoffman, gives a short entry on wild yam that briefly echoes some of the uses set forth by both Christopher and Santillo. (see The Holistic Herbal,
by David Hoffman.)
Willa Shaffer, in
her booklet, Wild Yam, Birth Control without Fear, makes a strong case for the use of wild yam root itself as a means of birth control. People who have used wild yam root in this fashion have made the following observations - wild yam is rendered ineffective by both antibiotics and by commercial chemical birth control pills.