Dioscorea Plants: A Genus Rich in Vital Nutra-pharmaceuticals-A Review

Iran J Pharm Res. 2019 Fall;18(Suppl1):68-89. doi: 10.22037/ijpr.2019.112501.13795.


Dioscorea species, known as "Yams," belong to family Dioscoreaceae. This genus consists of more than 600 species distributed from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean's South America, and the South Pacific islands. Their organoleptic properties make them the most widely used carbohydrate food and dietary supplements. The underground and/or aerial tubers represent valuable sources of proteins, fats, and vitamins for millions of people in West Africa. This review gives a shot of secondary metabolites of Dioscorea plants, including steroids, clerodane diterpenes, quinones, cyanidins, phenolics, diarylheptanoids, and nitrogen-containing compounds. This review collected the evidence on biological properties of description Dioscorea, including in-vitro and in-vivo studies. Dioscorea species contain promising bioactive molecules i.e. diosgenin that support their different biological properties, including antioxidant, hypoglycaemic, hypolipidemic, anti- antimicrobial, inflammatory, antiproliferative, androgenic, estrogenic, and contraceptive drugs. Indeed, besides its nutrient values, Dioscorea is a potential source of bioactive substances of interest in the prevention/treatment of several diseases, and thus represents a great challenge in developing countries. However, ethnomedicinal potential should be validated and further researches on pharmacological properties and phytochemical composition should be carried out. Particularly, doing some studies to convert the preclinical results to clinical efficacy should be guaranteed. Dioscorea, Food plant, Traditional use, Phytochemistry, Pharmacological activities.

Publication types

  • Review