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with the Example of Qianjin Zhidai Wan

by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon

There are several herbs derived from species of Dioscorea used in Chinese herb formulas, though only two are used with some frequency. By far the most common is Dioscorea opposita (= Dioscorea batatas), for which the rhizome (tuber) is used; it is called shanyao (mountain herb). This is in the yam family, and the herb is sometimes simply referred to as "Chinese yam."

Shanyao is used extensively in formulas for tonifying the kidney, often combined with rehmannia and cornus for that purpose. Like rehmannia, dioscorea nourishes yin; like cornus, it is an essence astringent. Well-known formulas with this trio of herbs include (1):