The most common use of wild yam is for the hormonal effects, as it contains DHEA, a hormone precursor. This constituent has usefulness for both men and women, as it can be made by the body into many other hormones, but it does have a particular slant towards progesterone, and so is especially useful for women. These progesterone compounds are also used for exhausted adrenal conditions, and it is comparable to licorice in that effect and its effect on balancing blood sugar levels.
More well-known in eastern medicine is its use for digestive system problems of a bilious or gaseous nature. Its alkaloid constituents act as strong relaxants to the stomach muscles and nerves, and so can be very useful in nausea, cramping, and vomiting.
This anti-spasmodic effect can also be applied to the uterus, and is useful for both menstrual cramps and prevention of miscarriage. Under the supervision of a physician, it can be a very good uterine tonic for pregnancy, also helping greatly with morning sickness.