Skin Health Matters -

Yin Yang Wild Yam Cream With Soya

Plant Medicines

The Doctrine of Signatures is a belief system based on the thought that God put plants on Earth for the therapeutic benefit of Mankind. It is easy to see how people might have come to this belief when, according to the World Health Organisation some 80% of the human population across the Planet use plant medicines for all or part of their health requirements. For people in the Developing Economies this is partly due to tradition and partly it is due to poverty. But even in the affluent OECD countries, many consumers today are turning back to herbal remedies for their efficacy and low incidence of side effects: people trust plants. It is reckoned that half the medicinal compounds we use every day come from plants endemic to the tropical rainforest.

Destruction of Rain Forests

Yet perversely, humanity is destroying The World’s tropical rainforests at an alarming rate. According to Rainforest Action Network, more than an acre-and-a-half is lost every second of every day: that’s an area more than twice the size of Florida that goes up in smoke every year! If present rates of destruction continue, it claims, half our remaining rainforests will be gone by the year 2025, and by 2060 there will be no rainforests left.

Organic Agriculture

At Yin Yang Skincare we have a profound respect for the power of plants and we do all we can, especially through the support of organic agriculture, to encourage respect for this remarkable life form. For nearly 40 years Yin Yang Skincare’s founder and range formulator, Katie May, has worked with plants to create gentle effective skincare products for everyday use and a range of therapeutic creams for common conditions of the skin, plus one for hormonal fluctuations: Wild Yam Cream with Soya – which Katie made for herself. Wild Yam, from North America, is a plant of the forests, but its utility for mankind is ancient, even if its properties and activity are not fully understood.

Woman’s Own Magazine

Even when people do not understand exactly how a herb or herbal extract achieves an improvement in their health or well being, they certainly understand the benefits. In June 2009, Woman’s Own ran a brief comment on Yin Yang’s Wild Yam Cream with Soya, quoting a lady of 39 who suffered from PMS, and in particular mood swings just before beginning her periods. The magazine reported her comments on trying and testing Yin Yang Wild Yam Cream with Soya “after a few days, I felt like the storm cloud had lifted – what a find!”

Energy Cream

Although Katie May developed the product for her personal use, the reputation of the cream was quickly spread amongst Yin Yang Skincare users – many of whom attended Yin Yang Skincare Clinics, or who would call Katie for advice about their skin. All Katie will tell you about her product, is that it is a wonderfully uplifting and energising cream for that time of the month when women feel “under par”. Others have described it as comforting, even sensuous – a tribute to the warming fragrance of geranium and orange.

Organic Wild Yam

The Wild Yam [Dioscorea villosa] used in Yin Yang’s cream, grows in damp woodlands in Northern America, to which it is native. We source an Extract of Wild Yam, organically grown, from Rutland Biodynamics, imported from the United States. The vine can grow to a length of 15 feet with a smooth stem and heart-shaped leaves from 2 to 6 inches long and 1 to 4 inches wide, hairy on the underside. The rootstock runs horizontally underneath the surface of the ground. The plant root and rhizome is harvested in the autumn and dried for storing. Its properties are generally extracted in alcohol to form a tincture. Various species of Wild Yam grow throughout North and Central America and Asia. Two species are found in Mexico, Dioscorea macrostachya and Dioscorea barabasco.

Components of Wild Yam

  • Steroidal saponins based on diosgenin: dioscin, discorin;
  • Alkaloids, dioscorine (unconfirmed. These may potentially be the ‘energy boosting’ bioactives);
  • Phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), tannins and starch;
  • Aluminium, Ascorbic acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Chromium, Cobalt, Iron, Magnesium, manganese, Niacin, Phosphorous, Potassium, Protein, Riboflavin, Selenium, Silicon, Sodium, Thiamine, Tin, Zinc.

Medicinal Uses of Wild Yam

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa L.) is listed by the European, British Pharmacopeaia. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes Wild Yam root as a spasmolytic, mild diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic and cholagogue, for use in the treatment of intestinal colic, diverticulitis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular rheumatism, cramps, cholecystitis, dysmenorrhea, and ovarian and uterine pain. The part used medicinally is the root and rhizome. It is also known as colic root and rheumatism root. Wild Yam extract is commonly used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory agent (dioscin has anti-inflammatory activity). Anti-oxidant activity has also been shown, possibly due to the presence of Vitamin C. Diosgenin has soothing, anti-inflammatory activity and is considered to be useful as a topical addition to skin creams for mature and dry skin.

Wild Yam Fact & Fiction

Wild Yam has been used for millennia: the Aztecs for example used it as treatment for rheumatic complaints and as an analgesic. In the 1950s, a chemical company produced the first birth control pill from Wild Yam diosgenin. However, diosgenin is a steroid with no hormonal activity; it simply served as a starting material for chemical synthesis of steroidal hormones like progesterone.

If Wild Yam has steroidal effects on the body, it is not because it contains steroidal hormones, but because the steroidal precursors have similar effects. It has been misreported that Wild Yam creams can act as a natural form of HRT by increasing the levels of natural hormones – but this is not possible – however it is not to say that the activity of its steroidal precursors in the body does not echo hormonal activity.

Skincare Applications & Benefits

Wild Yam extract is rich in tannins, phytosterols and steroidal saponins. The major component of the Wild Yam tincture used in Yin Yang’s Wild Yam & Soya cream is diosgenin, which has soothing and anti-inflammatory activity and is particularly beneficial for mature and dry skin. Diosgenin has been shown to help skin renewal and natural plumpness – potentially reducing fine lines and wrinkles and maintaining a healthy glow.