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Does Wild Yam Cream Bring Hot-Flash Relief?

There are many different forms of treatment available designed to help ease some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. For a long time, many women were simply prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a way to replace their diminishing hormones (the cause of most menopausal symptoms). However, when it was discovered that HRT carried its own set of hazards, such as an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke, many women started looking for safer ways to deal with their symptoms. Today, one popular, although unproven, alternative treatment is wild yam cream, one of several topical products used by women searching for menopausal relief.

What Is Wild Yam Cream?HFN 064 WildYamCream F5655286
The wild yam plant is a perennial vine with long, narrow roots. These roots contain diosgenin, which is a phytoestrogen that can be converted into progesterone, but only in the lab. (It was from yams grown in Mexico that the early birth-control pills were produced.) Proponents of wild yam cream believe that when it is rubbed onto parts of the body such as the breasts, thighs, wrists, neck, stomach, and underarms, it will help ease the symptoms of menopause. Recommended doses vary, but applying ¼ to ½ teaspoon per day in three-week intervals is common.

Several studies have shown that the wild yam cream has little to no effect on menopausal women. Perhaps this is because the conversion from diosgenin to progesterone must be done chemically in a lab and is not something that the human body itself can do. Some wild yam creams contain progesterone, which is a component that has been synthesized in a lab and is not present in all-natural wild yams. Results from wild yam cream containing progesterone will have different results than all-natural cream.

Applying a cream that contains a drug or hormone essentially defeats the purpose of finding natural, alternative methods of relief from the symptoms of menopause. Creams containing progesterone should not be taken without first consulting a doctor.

Potential Risks
As with anything, wild yam cream comes with risks. One of the first and foremost things to remember is that many so-called natural wild yam creams are not all natural and can contain up to 7 percent progesterone. Secondly, before taking any type of medication, even if it is herbal or natural, you should consult with a physician in order to make sure that the medication will not trigger any odd or dangerous side effects. This is especially true if you are taking any other medications involving hormones, such as HRT or birth control pills. It is also important to make sure you don't have any allergies to medications before taking them.

Do keep in mind that botanicals and dietary supplements (BDS) are not reviewed and therefore not approved by the Food & Drug Administration. This lack of oversight could result in products that may not meet minimum standards of safety and efficacy and may vary from batch to batch from the same manufacturer. There are many well-known BDS brands that are dependable, but it's just something to be aware of when you try something new.

The effects of wild yam cream on young children has not been tested or studied. Therefore, it is recommended that they avoid contact with the cream. This includes everything from inadvertently brushing against a child after applying the cream, to abstaining from wild yam cream if you are nursing or pregnant. ♀

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