What is Diosgenin?Diosgenin is a so-called phytohormone, which occurs especially in the yam root.
Diosgenin is a plant compound that, due to its chemical structure, is similar to human steroid hormones. Especially in the yam root, a lot of diosgenin is included. The active substance is the aglycone of Dioscin. An aglycone is a non-sugar component that binds a hydrogen atom at the corresponding site instead of a glycosyl group.
The basic chemical structure shows the same steroid skeleton that also contains the human sex hormones and cortisone glucocorticoids. Therefore, diosgenin can be chemically transformed into cortisone and progesterone.
Cortisone is the typical glucocorticoid that is widely used in the treatment of allergies, autoimmune diseases and organ transplants to prevent rejection. Various derivatives of diosgenin are used in medical research. It seeks agents that have similar or even better properties than diosgenin.
As an active ingredient, it is administered via dietary supplements. The medical importance for classical medicine stems from the fact that it serves as a raw material for the synthesis of important hormones and contraceptives. The pharmacological spectrum of activity is very diverse, so that it plays a major role in the healing practice of health impairments.
Diosgenin is not an endogenous substance, but a herbal active substance that has positive effects on the human hormone system. The herbal substance from the yam root has a similar structure to the steroid hormones of the human body. How diosgenin in turn affects the human body has not yet been fully elucidated. It is believed that it is responsible for the increased production of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA slows down the aging process and works against bone loss.
In a special way, the active ingredient also intervenes in the hormone metabolism in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. It has been observed that there is a reduction in hot flashes and even an increase in sexual desire in menopausal women. In men, for example, prostate problems could be reduced.
Furthermore, diosgenin acts anticarcinogenically, as demonstrated in animal studies in rats. The risk of developing colon or prostate cancer decreases with the administration of diosgenin. In addition, diosgenin has antimicrobial activity against the yeast Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. Also against the hepatitis C virus, a certain effectiveness was found.
In experiments it could be further demonstrated that diosgenin can inhibit blood clotting for a long time and thus is effective against the formation of thrombosis. Diosgenin also has inhibitory activity on acetylcholinesterase. It does not yet find application in this regard, but further studies are being carried out to clarify the potential of use in diseases associated with increased acetylcholinesterase activity.
Finally, an anti-inflammatory effect of diosgenin was also observed. Overall, many positive effects of diosgenin could be demonstrated in experiments and studies, although the exact mechanism of action is not yet known.
Medical application & use
Diosgenin is a plant hormone and occurs especially in the yam root. The Yam root was used early in folk medicine among the Aztecs, Mayans, North American Indians and the Chinese. There, their beneficial effects on inflammation and rheumatic diseases were recognized. The range of effects is very wide.
The typical age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis or cardiovascular diseases occur less frequently when the yams are consumed frequently. At the same time, their positive effect on hypothyroidism, diabetes, muscle cramps, urinary tract disorders, digestive disorders and biliary tract disorders is considerable. Furthermore, the yam root was also used in contraception.
For use in classical medicine, diosgenin is initially used as a source for the production of progesterone and cortisone. In healing medicine, the use of diosgenin is based on the use of diosgenin-containing plants such as yam. There it is used in the form of nutritional supplements (capsules or powders), ointments and creams.
Risks & Side Effects
So far, diosgenin has not yet been used in its pure form, but only in connection with plant-derived products such as yams. Most positive effects are registered. Even if there are side effects, these are usually positive side effects. For example, the use of yam root preparations has been shown to rejuvenate the skin.
Occasionally, however, there are also unpleasant side effects. If the dose is too high for a long time, it may cause redness and tiredness. Digestive problems are also reported, but only if earlier in the affected persons more often stomach and intestinal problems occurred.
Each person responds differently to certain drug concentrations, so that there is still no clear picture shows where the dangerous drug concentration is. While high levels of diosgenin are included in yam, there are no specific side effects with their use.
However, there are cautionary contraindications to the yam root. It should not be used for menstrual problems of girls in puberty. Puberty is a time of very strong hormonal change processes, so that an additional intake of hormone-like substances may have unforeseeable consequences. Since little is known about the hormonal effects of diosgenin, the yam should not be used in cervical cancer.