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Synthesis of Estrogen from Yams

The process of extracting diosgenin from yams and converting it into estrogen is similar to the process described for progesterone but involves specific chemical transformations tailored to produce estrogen instead. Here’s how it compares:

Similarities with Progesterone Production:

  1. Source Yams: Both progesterone and estrogen production start with specific types of yams, primarily Dioscorea species, known for containing diosgenin.

  2. Extraction of Diosgenin: Harvested yams are processed to extract diosgenin using solvents like ethanol or methanol. This initial extraction step is crucial for obtaining the precursor needed for hormone synthesis.

  3. Purification: The extracted diosgenin undergoes purification processes such as crystallization or chromatography to isolate it in a pure form, free from impurities.

Differences in Chemical Conversion:

  1. Chemical Transformation: While both hormones start with diosgenin, the chemical reactions used to convert diosgenin into progesterone versus estrogen differ significantly. These transformations involve distinct steps such as oxidation, reduction, and cyclization that are specific to each hormone.

  2. Final Product: The synthesized hormones, progesterone, and estrogen, undergo final purification to meet pharmaceutical standards. The purity and potency requirements may vary depending on the intended medical use.

Specialization in Manufacturing:

  1. Formulation: Once synthesized and purified, both hormones are formulated into various pharmaceutical products such as tablets, creams, or patches suitable for medical administration. The formulations may differ based on hormone-specific delivery requirements and patient preferences.

  2. Quality Control: Rigorous quality control measures ensure that the synthesized hormones meet regulatory standards for safety, efficacy, and consistency in hormone replacement therapy.


While the initial steps of yam extraction and diosgenin purification are similar for both progesterone and estrogen production, the chemical transformations and final product specifications are tailored to each hormone’s specific molecular structure and medical application. This specialized process ensures that pharmaceutical-grade hormones are synthesized efficiently and effectively for therapeutic use.

Dr Purity Carr

GP & Menopause Doctor

Havey WA

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