English Name: dioscorea bulbifera root, air potato yam rhizome
Pharmaceutical Name: Herba Dioscoreae Bulbiferae
Medica Category: Phlegm-Resolving Herbs
Properties: Huang Yao Zi enters the Lung and Liver channels; it is bitter in nature and cold in temperature. Considered toxic –see safety notes below.
The Chinese Herb Huang Yao Zi is the dried rhizome and root of a member of the yam family commonly known as the air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.). This plant is a tropical/sub-tropical twinning vine that will climb up trees and spread throughout forest canopies very rapidly because it produces bublis. Bublis are rhizomes that form above ground at intervals along the climbing vines from which new growth originates. Native to the tropics of Africa and Asia, air potato tubers have long been cultivated both as a staple food and for their medicinal value. Their use in TCM is discussed below.
Huang Yao Zi strongly dissolves phlegm and disperses nodules and is considered a very effective herb for treating stubborn/persistent goiter and thyroid nodules that do not respond to other herbal treatments (i.e. as a last alternative to surgery or radioactive iodine treatment).
Huang Yao Zi clears heat and toxins to treat toxic swellings, scrofula, and swollen and painful throat. It is also used to address many types of cancers, especially esophageal, stomach, uterine and colon cancer.
Huang Yao Zi stops cough and calms wheezing and can be used as a single herb to address bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough.
Huang Yao Zi cools the blood and stops bleeding to address epistaxis (nosebleeds), hematemesis (vomiting up blood), and hemoptysis (coughing up blood) due to blood heat.
Intended for short-term use only (no more than 3 continuous weeks before taking a break). Overdose may cause a burning sensation in the mouth, tongue and pharynx, salivation, diarrhea, and contracted pupils.
Huang Yao Zi has, in rare cases, been linked to potential liver damage; so liver functions should be monitored when using it. Signs of liver toxicity include yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes and elevated liver enzymes.
Contraindicated in persons with pre-existing liver conditions (e.g. hepatitis and cirrhosis).