I’ve been having hot flashes so I bought a cream containing
“wild yam” extract from a health food store to help balance my
hormones, particularly progesterone. Will this do the trick?”
–T.E., Los Angeles, California
ANSWER: No, that would not be my pick. The theory that wild yam
converts to progesterone in the body is not bullet-proof. It sounds
good, especially when you hear someone explain the biochemical
reasoning, but according to some leading hormone gurus, wild
yam extract is not the same as pure progesterone itself. Diosgenin
(found in wild yam) has some activity in the body, and under strict
laboratory conditions, along with solvents, it can convert itself
into some steroid hormones. These lab solvents are not found in a
woman’s body, however — see why I like USP pure progesterone
better than wild yam extract? Because when you buy progesterone,
you get progesterone. Period.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.