Chinese Yam, Shan Yao, 山药, Dioscorea oppositifolia

Disclaimer    For educational purposes only.  Do not use as medical advice

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Health Benefits
For: Cholesterol • Diabetes • Diarrhea • Hypertension • Hyperglycemia • Leukorrhea • Spermatorrhea
Attributes: Antidiabetic • Antidiarrheal • Anti-inflammatory • Estrogenic • Hypotensive • Immunomodulatory
Products (online examples)

Dried Herb


Dried Herb




Dried Herb


Research (sample)
Dopamine • Abscisin • Choline • Batasine • Manan • Phytic acid • Leukorrhea • Spermatorrhea • Dry coughs

Photos (Click to enlarge)
Fun Facts
Other Names: Rhizoma Dioscoreae • Huai Shan Yao • Huai Shan • 怀 山 • Common Yam • Cinnamon-vine • Nagaimo • Tororo • Seoyeo • Hoài Sơn • Tuge • White ñame • Japanese mountain potato
Plant Family: Dioscoreaceae
This herb should always be cooked.  Do not eat raw.  It can be fried, added to soup, or used like a potato.  Besides the root, this plant produces small potatoes on its vines that can also be used in dishes.

D. opposita and D. oppositifolia are synonyms.  They refer to the same plant.

D. opposita and D. oppositifolia are synonyms
Dioscorea Alata L
Dioscorea Bulbifera
Dioscorea Nipponica
Dioscorea oppositifolia is in the USDA Plant Database.  Drill down via USDA Interactive Map:

USA: Dioscorea oppositifolia has been introduced to multiple states.      USDA Zones: 4-11

Native: Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea

Habitats:  Hilly slopes, valleys

Properties, Actions, Indications, etc.              Category: Tonify Yin 
English: Chinese Yam    Pinyin:  Shan Yao      Pharmaceutical: Radix Dioscoreae Oppositae  
Organs: Kidney • Lung • Spleen      Temperature: Neutral  
Taste: Sweet      Toxicity:   
Patterns: Xiao Ke syndrome • Lung Yin deficiency • Spleen Yin deficiency • Stomach Yin deficiency • Kidney yin deficiency • Qi deficiency 
Actions:  Tonify Qi • Tonify lungs • Tonify spleen • Tonify stomach • Tonify kidney • Tonify Yin
Indications: High blood sugar • Low energy • Poor appetite • Fatigue • Diarrhea
Contraindications: Yam allergies; Shan Yao antagonizes Gui Sui
Typical Dosage: 10g to 30g          Guidelines
Parts Used: Root  
Combine With Purpose
Fu Ling + Bai Zhu + Ginseng (Shen Ling Bai Zhu San) Spleen deficiency -Diarrhea or loose stool[3],[21], fatigue, poor appetite [18]
Chao Mai Ya + Ji Nei Jin Spleen and stomach weakness - food stagnation [3],[21]
Sha Ren + Zhi Shi Spleen and stomach weakness - Qi stagnation [21] + Chen Pi [3]
Yu Zhu + Shi Hu Spleen and stomach weakness - Yin deficiency[21] +Mai Men Dong [3]
Mu Li + Hai Piao Xiao + Long Gu + Qian Cao (Qing Dai Tang) Spleen deficiency - Leukorrhea (copious, clear, red, persistent) [3],[18],[21]
Huang Bai + Che Qian Zi + Zhi Shi +Bai Guo (Yi Huang Tang) Spleen deficiency with damp heat - Leukorrhea (yellow, viscous, odorous)[18],[21]
Shan Zhu Yu + Tu Si Zi Spleen and Kidney deficiencies -  Leukorrhea[3]
Mai Men Dong + Wu Wei Zi Lung deficiency - cough[21]
Xuan Shen + Niu Bang Zi Wheezing and Dry cough[21]
Xuan Shen + Ji Nei Jin +Niu Bang Zi Lung yin deficiency with dehydration[18]
Xuan Shen + Ji Nei Jin +Niu Bang Zi + Shen Di Huang Lung yin deficiency with dehydration and heat[3],[18]
Qian Shi + Shan Zhu Yu + Tu Si Zi Kidney deficiency - spermatorrhea, vaginal discharge, or diarrhea[21]
Shan Zhu Yu + Tu Si Zi Kidney and spleen deficiency - spermatorrhea, Leukorrhea [3]
Huang Qi + Zhi Mu (Yu Ye Tang) Diabetes (feeling constantly thirsty) [21]
Huang Qi + Zhi Mu (Yu Ye Tang) + Ge Gen Diabetes [18]
Shi Gao + Zhi Mu + Mai Men Dong + Tian Hua Fen Diabetes + internal heat [3],[18
Shi Gao + Zhi Mu + Ge Gen + Huang Jing + Tian Hua Fen + Sheng Di Huang Diabetes + Excessive hunger + Excessive thirst [3],[18]
Ge Gen + Huang Qi + Tian Hua Fen Diabetes + Excessive thirst [3]
Sheng Di Huang + Shu Di Huang +Shan Zhu Yu + Wu Wei Zi + Ze Xie + Mu Dan Pi + Lian Xu Diabetes + Excessive urine [3],[18]
Yi Zhi Ren + Wu Yao (Suo Quan Wan) Frequent urination at night [3],[18]
Shan Zhu Yu + Shu Di Huang Kidney deficiency - night sweats and spermatorrhea [21]
Chai Hu + Bai Shao + Bai Zhu + Cang Zhu +Ren Shen (Wan Dai Tang) Spleen deficiency + liver qi stagnation -Leukorrhea [18],[21]
Dang Shen Spleen and kidney deficiency - fatigue, poor appetite, diarrhea, cough (thin mucous) [3],[21]
Mai Men Dong + Wu Wei Zi Lung deficient cough [3]
Formulas with Shan Yao
Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan • Bao Yin Jian • Bu Shen Yi Gan Tang • Dang Gui Di Huang Yin • Diao Gan Tang • Ding Jing Tang • Du Qi Wan • Er Long Zuo Ci Wan • Fu Tu Dan • Jian Ling Tang • Jian Pi Wan • Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan • Liu Wei Di Huang Wan • Mai Wei Di Huang Wan • Ming Mu Di Huang Wan • Qi Ju Di Huang Wan • Ren Shen Zi Xue Tang • Shen Ling Bai Zhu San • Shen Qi Wan • Suo Quan Wan • Tu Si Zi Wan • Wan Dai Tang • Yi Huang Tang • You Gui Wan • Yu Ye Tang • Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan • Zuo Gui Wan • Zuo Gui Yin

Be cautions with all medicine.
Potential Drug Interactions

Herbal medicine may interact negatively with pharma drugs and other herbs.  Examples below:

Herbs: ♦ Antidiabetic: Mei Gui Hua, Du Zhong, Dang Shen, HuoLong Guo, rougui, Celery, Chamomile, Moringa Tree, Basil, Ku Gua, Hibiscus, Gou Qi Zi, Ju Hua, Xia Ku Cao, Dang Gui, Zhi Mu, Shi gao, Xuan Shen, Cang Zhu, Shan yao, Huang Qi, Artichoke, Gan Cao, Nu Zhen Zi, Ju Hua

Pharma Drugs:♦ Antidiabetic: Acarbose (Precose ) , Albiglutide (Tanzeum) , Alogliptin (Nesina) , Bromocriptine mesylate (Cycloset , Canaglifozin (Invokana) , Chlorpropamide (Diabinese) , Dapagliflozin (Farxiga) , Dulaglutide (Trulicity) , Empagliflozin (Jardiance) , Glimepiride (Amaryl) , glipizide (Glucotrol) , Glyburide (DiaBeta , Glynase) , Insulin , Linagliptin (Tradjenta) , Metformin , Miglitol (Glyset) , Nateglinide (Starlix) , Parlodel) , Pioglitazone (Actos) , Pramlintide , Repaglinide (Prandin) , Rosiglitazone (Avandia) , Saxagliptin (Onglyza) , Sitagliptin (Januvia) , Tol-Tab) , Tolazamide (Tolinase) , Tolbutamide (Orinase)


Information in this post came from many sources, including class notes, practitioners, websites, webinars, books, magazines, and editor's personal experience.  While the original source often came from historical Chinese texts,  variations may result from the numerous English translations.   Always consult a doctor prior to using these drugs.  The information here is strictly for educational purposes. 

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