Elephant Yam: Uses and Benefits.

Elephant yam is commonly known as suran or jimikand. Its scientific name is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius and belongs to family Araceae. Three local varieties of elephant yam are found in India, namely Gajendra, Sree Padma and Kusum. It is a local staple food in several countries and is cultivated as an intercrop with turmeric and bananas. Elephant yam is the herbaceous, perennial crop of south-eastern Asian origin and has attained the status of cash crop in India. Elephant yam is a potential tropical tuber crop. Mainly, the tuber of elephant yam is rich in nutrients.   The tubers of elephant yam are extremely acrid and irritate the mouth and throat because of excessive calcium oxalate content. Read more about the health benefits of elephant yam. 

Nutritional Value of Elephant Yam: 

100 grams of elephant yam provides the following amount of nutrients: 

Nutritional Component Amount 
Water 69.6 g 
Energy 118 kcal 
Protein 1.53 g 
Total lipid (fat) 0.17 g 
Carbohydrate 27.9 g 
Ash 0.882 g 
Fibre 4.1 g 
sugar 0.5 g 
Calcium 17 mg 
Iron 0.54 mg 
Magnesium 21 mg 
Phosphorus 55 mg 
Potassium 816 mg 

Properties of Elephant Yam: 

Several studies have found that different parts of elephant yam may have potential properties as those mentioned below: 

  • May increase the motility of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • May have flatulence relieving property   
  • May possess cytotoxic properties (kills cancer cells)  
  • May show antibacterial and antifungal activity  
  • May possess properties that may prevent liver damage  
  • May possess antioxidant properties  
  • Maybe a potential astringent  
  • May possess anti-inflammatory properties  
  • May have properties that can relieve pain  
  • Maybe have properties that help against parasitic worms 

Potential Uses of Elephant Yam for Overall Health: 

1. Possible use of elephant yam for diabetes  

The ability of elephant yam to lower sugar levels has been proven experimentally. Elephant yam contains flavonoids that may stimulate the secretion of insulin. Elephant yam may help minimise complications related to diabetes. However, consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis in case of high blood sugar. 

2. Potential use of elephant yam to relieve pain  

The tuber of elephant yam may help relieve pain. The analgesic activity of elephant yam extract was evaluated on mice. Elephant yam may inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, which are responsible for inflammation. It may be used to reduce the side effects of conventional analgesics as an add-on drug. Consult a doctor if the pain lasts long and is unbearable instead of self-medication.  

3. Potential use of elephant yam in gastrointestinal diseases  

Elephant yam is used in traditional medicine for gastrointestinal disorders like piles, abdominal pain and constipation. The property of increasing gastrointestinal motility has been tested on Wistar rats. It was proven that elephant yam increases motility in the stomach (gastrokinetic action); therefore, it may be used to treat gastrointestinal disturbances.

4. Potential use of elephant yam as an antifungal and antibacterial agent  

The extract of elephant yam was used to determine its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It showed significant antibacterial activity against some gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. A phytoconstituent present in elephant yam may possess antibacterial and antifungal activity, which may treat infections caused by microorganisms.

5. Potential use of elephant yam as an anthelmintic  

The elephant yam tuber may possess the properties to destroy parasitic worms. Studies to test the anthelmintic activity of elephant yam against earthworms showed that it may paralyze and kill the earthworm. There are a variety of parasites that affect humans and these studies seem insufficient to define the extent to which elephant yam will be beneficial to humans. 

6. Potential use of elephant yam for liver diseases  

The flavonoid quercetin, which was isolated from elephant yam, may prevent liver damage.  Studies conducted on the rat liver to evaluate the hepatoprotective properties showed that elephant yam might bring down the increased enzyme level, increase the protein level and improve the texture of the damaged liver cells.  This indicates it may have some effect on the human liver, but human studies are needed to establish this. You must consult your doctor for advice on any liver-related condition. 

7. Potential use of elephant yam for weight management  

There may be a potential use of elephant yams for weight loss. Elephant yam can be a part of several healthy recipes. Roasting elephant yam may be preferred over boiling it to preserve the nutrients. Elephant yam may have an excellent nutritional value, making it a healthy food choice. However, do not make any changes in your diet without consulting a nutritionist. 

8. Potential use of elephant yam for ulcerative colitis  

Elephant yam may be effective against ulcerative colitis. A study conducted on Wistar rats showed that certain phytoconstituents present in elephant yam might exhibit anti-colic effects.

Though studies show the benefits of the herb in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of herbs on human health.  


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