Diosgenin benefit and side effects, research review by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 7 2014

Diosgenin is a steroidal saponin, which is extracted from the root of wild yam, known by its botanical name as Dioscorea. Other plant steroids include hecogenin and tigogenin. Wild Yam cream does not appear to be beneficial for menopausal symptoms according to one human study.

Side effects
I could not find published adverse effects of diosgenin in medical journals.

Diosgenin supplementation to rodents and adrenal gland function
The effects of sustained delivery of diosgenin on the adrenal gland of female rats.
Biomed Sci Instrum. 2003. Benghuzzi H, Tucci M, Eckie R, Hughes J. University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA.
The specific objectives of this study were to continuously deliver diosgenin to adult ovariectomized female rats for 45 days and follow changes in body weight, organ weight and histopathological changes in the adrenal gland. Adult female Sprague Dawley rats were divided into three equal groups. Rats in group I served as the control group, animals in group II were ovariectomized and animals in group II were ovariectomized, and supplemented with tricalcium phosphate (TCP) drug delivery system loaded with 500 mg diosgenin. The results indicated that ovariectomized animals had a significant increase in body weight and spleen weights. Slight increases in wet adrenal weights were observed in the ovariectomized group compared to the control animals. Histopathological evaluation of the adrenal gland revealed an increase in the cortical and medullary adrenal areas of the ovariectomized group and a significant decrease in these areas in the diosgenin treated animals. The information is considered important because reduction in adrenal mass may pose a potential for major endocrine complications.

Cancer research
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013. Diosgenin Inhibits hTERT Gene Expression in the A549 Lung Cancer Cell Line.

Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2013. Synergistic apoptotic effect of the combination of diosgenin and TRAIL on non-small-cell lung cancer cell line A549 evaluated with the Chou-Talalay method.

The antitumor activity of Diosgenin in vivo and in vitro
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2002.
Department of Pharmacology, Jilin Institute of Nature Medicine, Changchun, Jilin, China.
To investigate the antitumor activity of Diosgenin in vivo and in vitro. S-180, HepA, U14 and EAC transplant mice were given Diosgenin ig or i.p. everyday for 10 days, from the next day when they were inoculated in axilla. Tumor growth inhibit rates were calculated. Four kinds of cells, MCF, L929, A375-S2 and HeLa, were incubated respectively with Diosgenin in vitro. Tumor growth inhibit rates were also calculated. In vivo, both ig and i.p., Diosgenin inhibited S-180, HepA, U 14 mice transplant tumor, the inhibit rates being 30%-50%, but it did not inhibit the EAC mice transplant tumor. In vitro, Diosgenin inhibited L929, HeLa, MCF cell growth, and IC50 were 1.2, 18.2 micrograms.mL-1 respectively, but it did not significantly affect A375-S2 cells. Diosgenin has an obvious antitumor activity on S-180, HepA, U14 transplant mice in vivo and L929, HeLa, MCF cells in vitro.

Dioscorea villosa
The effects of sustained delivery of diosgenin on the adrenal gland of female rats.
Biomed Sci Instrum. 2003.
Benghuzzi H, Tucci M, Eckie R, Hughes J. University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS
Diosgenin has been reported to have tremendous medical applications. In addition, as an herbal extract it appears to be free of any major adverse effects. Recently, Wild Yam has been used to minimize post-menopausal symptoms and is sold unregulated over the counter at a variety of pharmacy and health food stores. The specific objectives of this study were to continuously deliver diosgenin to adult ovariectomized female rats for 45 days and follow changes in body weight, organ weight and histopathological changes in the adrenal gland. Adult female Sprague Dawley rats were divided into three equal groups (n = 54, 250-300 gm BW). Rats in group I served as the control group, animals in group II were ovariectomized and animals in group II were ovariectomized, and supplemented with tricalcium phosphate (TCP) drug delivery system loaded with 500 mg diosgenin. The results indicated that ovariectomized animals had a significant increase in body weight and spleen weights. Slight increases in wet adrenal weights were observed in the ovariectomized group compared to the control animals. Histopathological evaluation of the adrenal gland revealed an increase in the cortical and medullary adrenal areas of the ovariectomized group and a significant decrease in these areas in the diosgenin treated animals. The information is considered important because reduction in adrenal mass may poses a potential for major endocrine complications.

Wild Yam Extract 4%, 6%, 10%, 20% Saponin Diosgenin