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How Progesterone is Made from Yams

Progesterone made from yams involves a sophisticated process of extracting and chemically converting compounds found in specific types of yams, particularly Dioscorea species. Here's an overview of the process:

  1. Identification of Source Yams: The yams, often Dioscorea villosa or Dioscorea mexicana, contain a compound called diosgenin.

  2. Extraction of Diosgenin: The harvested yams are cleaned, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Diosgenin is then extracted using solvents such as ethanol or methanol.

  3. Purification: The extracted diosgenin is purified through processes like crystallization or chromatography to remove impurities.

  4. Chemical Conversion: The purified diosgenin undergoes chemical reactions to convert it into progesterone. This involves steps like oxidation, hydrolysis, and cyclization.

  5. Final Purification: The synthesized progesterone is further purified to meet pharmaceutical standards.

  6. Formulation: The final progesterone product is formulated into various forms, such as oral tablets, creams, or injectables, for medical use.

Sources and Sustainability of Wild Yams

Wild yams, particularly Dioscorea species, are primarily found in North and Central America, including regions in the United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. These plants grow in various environments such as forests, meadows, and hillsides.

  1. Natural Habitats: Wild yams grow naturally in forested areas and other suitable wild habitats. They are harvested by locals or specialized harvesters.

  2. Farming and Cultivation: Wild yams can also be cultivated on farms to meet the demand for diosgenin. Farmers cultivate these plants under conditions that mimic their natural habitat.

  3. Sustainability: Sustainable farming practices are employed to avoid overharvesting wild populations, ensuring a steady supply of diosgenin without depleting natural resources.

Countries like Mexico are significant suppliers of wild yam due to their favorable growing conditions. Large-scale cultivation efforts help supply the pharmaceutical industry with the necessary raw materials.

Importation and Pharmaceutical Use of Yams

Pharmaceutical companies that use diosgenin from yams to produce progesterone and other steroidal hormones often import yam-derived diosgenin or the raw yams themselves. Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Cultivation and Harvesting: Yams are grown and harvested in countries with suitable climates, like Mexico and other parts of Central and North America.

  2. Extraction and Processing: Local facilities handle the initial extraction and purification of diosgenin from the yam tubers. The diosgenin is then purified and sometimes converted into intermediate steroid compounds before export.

  3. Importation: Pharmaceutical companies import the extracted diosgenin or its intermediate forms. This raw material is used in manufacturing processes to synthesize bioidentical hormones like progesterone.

  4. Chemical Synthesis and Manufacturing: The imported diosgenin undergoes further chemical processing to convert it into progesterone. The final product is subjected to rigorous quality control to meet medical standards.

  5. Distribution: The synthesized progesterone is formulated into various pharmaceutical products and distributed to healthcare providers and pharmacies.

Podcast on benefits of body identical progesterone


  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): Information on diosgenin extraction and chemical conversion can be found in scientific literature available through NCBI’s PubMed database.

  2. Journal of Natural Products: Articles detailing the chemical processes involved in converting diosgenin to progesterone are published in various scientific journals like the Journal of Natural Products.

  3. Sustainability Reports: Information on sustainable farming practices for wild yams can be found in reports from agricultural organizations and sustainability initiatives.

  4. Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Guidelines: Regulatory guidelines and quality control standards for the synthesis and manufacturing of pharmaceutical-grade progesterone are available through sources like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

  5. Phytotherapy Research: Research articles in journals like Phytotherapy Research provide insights into the natural habitats and cultivation of Dioscorea species.

Dr Purity Carr

GP & Menopause Doctor

Harvey WA

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