Not Just Any Yam

Dr. Russell Marker, one of the five founding fathers of the birth control pill, was probably more obsessed with yam based hormones than any one has ever been. Toiling away in the laboratory he worked tirelessly to find the right source of progesterone from yams. He had more than the right impetus to want to find that perfect progesterone producing yam. In 1935 he would need the ovaries from 2500 pregnant pigs just just to get 1 mg of  the progesterone, and he knew that would never work as a successful compound at that extravagant price. Just to put this in perspective for you: it takes 200 mg in a progesterone shot to bring a woman's period on! That would be 500,000 pigs for your little shot. Wow. Impressive! Ok, so Dr. Russell dug in with determination to find the right, and cheap, plant. He got excited about Beth's root, the core natural plant hormone ingredient in the menstrual relief of Lydia Pinkham's compound. Women of the day however hardly noticed the herbal part as it was a high proof alcohol compound that could be toxic if imbibed in the wrong circumstances. But Dr. Marker wasn't impressed by the plant itself a Northern Carolina Trillium which produced too little plant progesterone to be much more use than the progesterone producing pig ovaries. So he began to roam the west for any plants containing related compounds during his scant vacation time. Over the years he experimented on over 400 species of yams. Yams have about 600 actual species, and they are gloriously named after the first century Greek botanist Pendanius Dioscorides who's illustrations have been copied and copied, and survive today in the illustrated texts about all of Greek medicines from the 11th century. Dr. Marker finally stumbled on some old writings that made him believe the right plant was deep in the heart of Mexico, and after an exhausting train ride he finally found the perfect plant with abundant progesterone precursor: the Dioscoorea mexicana. And today yam source of natural progesterone is the best we have.

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