Chinese Yams / Dioscorea

Chinese Yams (Shan Yao)

Chinese Yams / Dioscorea (Shan Yao)

Botanical Name: Dioscoreae Oppositae (D. polystachya and D. oppositifolia)

Called “fairy food” in China for its congenital and tonic abilities, it is often cut into thick slices and cooked in stews. Used safely by all ages, it is especially noted for improving male and female fertility, aiding digestion and stopping coughs.

Below is an overview of Chinese Yams / Dioscorea (Shan Yao), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Chinese Yams / Dioscorea (Shan Yao).

Have we sparked your interest?

Sign up, FREE, for access to all of WRI Healing Herb Fact Sheets and Exclusive Member Only Offers! Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Healing Herb Fact Sheets

Download. Print. Share.
Get a free Fact Sheet about this herb and many more!

Western

Western Name: Chinese Yams

Also Known As: Dioscorea

Organs/Systems: Digestion, Lungs, Reproductive

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Digestive, Tonic, Demulcent.

Eastern

Pin Yin: Shan Yao

Also Known As: “Shan Yao” translates as “Mountain Herb”

Meridians: Kidney, Lung, Spleen

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Tonifies and Supports Spleen and Stomach: Diarrhea, fatigue, spontaneous sweating, lack of appetite. Tonifies and Supports Lung Qi: chronic cough, wheezing. Tonifies the Kidneys/Stabilizes and Binds: this herb moistens and is neither hot nor cold, therefore it is often used for wasting and thirsting disorder. Helps bind Essence (Jing) and treats spermatorrhea, frequent and scanty urination, nocturnal emissions and vaginal discharge. Nourishes Blood/Calms Shen.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Dioscorea is a genus with over 600 to 800 species, making it one of the largest genera of the plant kingdom. They are tuberous herbaceous perennial lianas (long-stemmed woody vines that take root at the base of trees, using them as vertical support to climb up into the trees canopy’s for light). These plants can grow to 2-12m or more. They are mostly dioecious, with separate male and female parts. Several species, known simply as yams, are important agricultural crops, grown for their large tubers.

Native to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, it likes tropical and warm temperate regions of the world. Particularly important as a crop in parts of Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Chinese Yams (Shan Yao) Parts Most Frequently Used: Roots, Tubers

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral

Caution: Not recommended if excess damp or stagnation is present.

History/Folklore: The name “Dioscorea” is dervived from the Ancient Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides. Use raw to tonify Yin, dry-fry to strengthen the Spleen. Steroidal saponins can be converted through a series of chemical reactions into steroid hormones used in medicine and contraceptives. Good quality yams are thick, firm, powdery and have a clear white cross section. Chinese Yams lower blood-sugar and are therefore used to treat diabetes. Because the Kidney system in TCM is associated with congenital health and fertility, and the Spleen system is associated with acquired health through food and digestion, the herb is considered a foundation tonic herb for good health and development. It is rare for one herb to strengthen both Congenital and Acquired Qi. Traditionally, yams from Henan (Huaiqing) are believed to have the highest medicinal properties and nutritional qualities. Thus, these yams are often called “Huai Shan Yao.” Yams are usually harvested after the frost’s descent in the Chinese 18th solar term. Chinese Yams have long been considered by the Chinese to be an excellent herb for promoting longevity, helping prevent cardiovascular problems, building Blood (Xue), increasing appetite, improving fertility (including increasing sperm count) and lowering blood sugar levels.

Chinese Yams are considered to have gentle, though powerful, therapeutic properties and can therefore be used safely by all ages.

The vine is considered to be quite aggressive, taking over everything within reach, so be aware if you decide to plant any in your garden.

Key Constituents:

Saponins, Choline,  d-Abscisin II, Vitamin C, Mannan, Phytic acid, Allantoin, Diosgenin, Mucilage, Starch, Sugar, Protein, Free amino acids, Amylase. Estrogen.

Did you know?

Dioscorea

Dioscorea is a name commonly used for two plants: D. polystachya and D. oppositioflia.

Facts

Used to Produce Steroids

Chinese Yams (Dioscorea) contain diosgenin that is used to produce the steroids estrogen and progesterone in the laboratory.

Fun fact!

Don't Eat With Carp

Not recommended to be eaten with the fish carp as it can cause upset stomach, vomiting and abdominal pain.

FREE!

Healing Herb Fact Sheet

Download. Print. Share. (PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader required.)

Download Now

Online Courses

Take a Health Break!

Get and give the best of Western Scientific, Eastern Energetic (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Ancient, and Traditional Perspectives.

Learn More

50 Fact Sheets at Once

Save Time with eBook Volumes!

Download 50 Fact Sheets at once in our NEW easy-to-download and print eBook Volumes. (Each volume contains 50 different EWHA™ Healing Herb Fact Sheets!) It’s fast and simple.

Learn More

Want to Learn More?

Join us for FREE to receive Special Offers and updates about our upcoming courses, FREE materials and more.
 
Join, FREE!

References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.

Disclosure: If you purchase from some links on this web page, we may receive some kind of affiliate commission. However, we only ever mention products we would recommend whether we were being compensated or not. Thank you so much for your support of White Rabbit Institute of Healing!

ATTENTION: All material provided on this website is for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional or physician. Redistribution permitted with attribution. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Whole. Be Free.

ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

Health Break: Detox, Strengthen & Cleanse

Join our next 30-Day “Love Your Liver” Detox Challenge!

A Health Boost and Reset to Balance Body, Mind, & Spirit Using Traditional Chinese Medicine. You'll also recieve our Free Healing Herb Fact Sheets and latest news. Your privacy is guaranteed.

Thank you, you have joined our wait list! We'll let you know when our next 30-Day “Love Your Liver” Detox Challenge is open.

Healing Herb Fact Sheets

Download. Print. Share.

Complete the form below for immediate access to ALL our Herb Fact Sheets.

Thank you for joining us! Please check your email for details on how to access our free Healing Herb Fact Sheets. Be sure to check your spam folder and promotions tab if you have one.