Other Proposed Uses
The race to discover a more economical source of hormones was won by a scientist/businessman named Russell Marker. In the 1940s, he perfected a method of synthesizing progesterone from a constituent of wild yam called diosgenin. This process involves several chemical transformations carried out in the laboratory.
Marker focused his attention on two species of yam found in Mexico, Dioscorea macrostachya and Dioscorea barabasco , the latter of which is richer in diosgenin, while the former is much easier to harvest in the wild. He formed a manufacturing company in Mexico that produced progesterone and DHEA from these raw materials.
Unfortunately, corporate competition and difficult labor conditions eventually forced him to close his plant. But Marker's method of synthesizing progesterone continued to be used, bringing the price down drastically and helping to pave the way for the modern birth control pill. Progesterone continued to be manufactured from wild yam for decades, until a cheaper source of raw material was found in cultivated soybeans.
But neither soybeans nor wild yam contain progesterone. They only contain chemicals that chemists can use as a starting point to manufacture progesterone. However, just because chemists can make progesterone out of diosgenin does not mean that the body can do the same. Actually, it is very unlikely because the steps used by chemists to carry out this conversion do not even remotely resemble natural processes. Thus, any product that claims to contain "natural progesterone from wild yam" is misleading.
An interesting point is that some wild yam products do contain progesterone. Are we contradicting ourselves? Not at all. Manufacturers add synthetic progesterone to these creams. There may be a value to taking progesterone in cream form, but the wild yam part of the product seems to be misleading.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -