Chinese yam

Chinese yam Benefits, What is Chinese yam

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Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposita) is a root that is used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese pharmaceutical name for this herbal is Rhizoma dioscoreae. Other names for Chinese yam include dioscorea and shan yao. Chinese yam is native to China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, where it can be found growing wild on hill slopes and in valleys. It is also propagated for medicinal and dietary uses.

The genus name Dioscorea is dedicated to the Greek physician and naturalist, Diosorides. There are between 600 and 800 different species of Dioscorea, making it one of the largest genera of the plant kingdom. Many species in this genus are grown and collected for their medicinal properties. Sweet potatoes are often called yams, although they are different plants.

The Chinese yam plant is a climbing vine that supports itself by coiling around the branches of other vegetation. The plant can be 9.75 ft (3 m) high and 5 ft (1.5 m) wide. Chinese yam has heart-shaped leaves and it produces small white flowers which have a cinnamonlike aroma. Small tubers (called tubercles) form in the

axials (the angles between the leaves and the stem). These pea-sized tubercles are harvested in the late summer or early fall and are used to propagate the plant.

Chinese yam plants take three or four years to reach maturity, although fairly large roots may be harvested from well developed plants after the first year. Chinese yam is a spindle-shaped, thick, hard root or tuber that is white on the inside. However, cultivated forms from China or Japan may have different root shapes. The yam may be up to 1 yd (about 1 m) in length. Chinese yam is dug up in the winter. After the rough bark is removed, the root is washed and allowed to dry in either the shade or the sun. The dried root is rehydrated in water and then cut into slices.

Chinese yam contains large amounts of mucilage. Mucilage is a thick, slimy substance produced by plants. It has a soothing effect on mucous membranes, such as the tissues that line the respiratory passages. This may explain why Chinese yam is effective at relieving cough.

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