Medicinal Properties of Elephant Foot Yam

Elephant Foot Yam is a popular tuber crop of humid tropics. Elephant foot yam is a tuberous, stout, indigenous herb grown widely in India. In India, it is grown mostly in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, U.P., Punjab, Bihar, Assam and Orissa. The improved varieties of Elephant Foot Yam possess excellent cooking qualities.

  • The plant derives its name from the fact that the plant from which the tuber is derived is quite huge and resembles the foot of an elephant to a great extent.
  • Elephant Foot Yam is not only related to a corpse flower but also smells like one! In some parts of India, it is used as delicacy while in others it is eaten as a last resort food!
  • Elephant foot yam is botanically known as Amorphophallus paeoniifolius or Amorphophallus campanulata.


Elephant Foot Yam as Health Food

  • Three parts of Elephant Foot Yam are tuber, rhizome and petioles and are eaten after they are well-cooked. It is known to increase both taste and appetite.
  • The Elephant Foot Yam is very high in carbohydrates and is a good source of proteins and vitamins. The trace elements and key minerals present in Elephant Foot Yam are calcium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium ad potassium. It is also a good source of Vitamin A. It has high fiber content and is also considered as slimming food.
  • So, a well-cooked Elephant Foot Yam can be consumed without any fear of gaining weight!
  • The consumption of Elephant Foot Yam is good for women owing to the increase in estrogen levels in blood. It also provides relief from premenstrual syndrome in women.
  • The tubers of Yam are cooked and eaten by natives. The vegetable is considered nutritious and wholesome when cooked. It is boiled and eaten with mustard or it is cooked into curries or it is cut into slices and boiled with tamarind leaves and made into pickles.
  • The petioles of young, unexpanded leaves are also edible in India when thoroughly cooked.
  • The roots are also very nutritious and are cultivated for the purpose of diet. The roots are also used for pickling. Pickles of Elephant Foot Yam are highly recommended for children and elderly for a healthy life.
  • Pregnant and breast feeding woman should take the approval of a doctor before making Elephant Foot Yam a regular part of her diet, as it can harm both the mother and the baby.

Do you know?
Suran must be washed and cooked thoroughly to avoid it catching the throat, a feeling which is highly uncomfortable and feels like thorns covering the tonsil. This is because of a high amount of calcium oxalate raphides.

Folklore medicine and Elephant foot yam

  • Roots and tubers are used for hemorrhoids.
  • Roots are also used for boils and ophthalmia.
  • Tuberous roots are used for treatment of piles, abdominal pains, tumors, spleen enlargements, asthma and rheumatism.
  • Roots are also used as emmenagogue (agent that promotes menstrual discharge)
  • Poultices of corm are antirheumatic.
  • Corms are used as restorative in dyspepsia, debility etc.
  • Suran is laxative, energetic and digestible. For those who have problem of piles and warts, it is best taken with butter milk and eaten alone. It is claimed to treat piles in approximately one month use!

Ayurveda and elephant foot yam

  • The tubers are prescribed in Ayurveda as medicine to treat piles, dysentery, asthma, swelling of lungs, vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • In Ayurveda, Elephant Foot Yam has been traditionally used in arthralgia, elephantiasis, tumors, inflammations, hemorrhoids, hemorrhages, vomiting, cough, bronchitis, asthma, dyspepsia, colic, constipation, hepato-splenopathies, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, seminal weakness, fatigue, and general debility.
  • Corms are applied externally to relieve the pain of rheumatic swellings. Fresh corms also act as acrid stimulants and expectorants.

The major medicinal uses of Elephant Foot Yam are:

  • Boils: The roots are used to treat boils (a boil is a painful sore with a hard core filled with pus).
  • Carminative: In the form of a pickle, it is used as a hot carminative (a carminative is a medicine used to relieve gas in the alimentary tract).
  • Emmenagogue: Elephant Foot Yam is very caustic and abounds in starch and is used as stimulants and also in promoting menstrual discharge (emmenagogue).
  • Hemorrhoids: Tubers, roots and corms are useful in hemorrhoids. The acrid juice of the tubers is removed by thorough boiling and washing so that it does not irritate the mouth.
  • Ophthalmia: The acrid roots of Elephant Foot Yam are used in the treatment of ophthalmia (which is severe conjunctivitis).
  • Rheumatism: Fresh roots or corms are used as an acrid stimulant and expectorant and are used externally in acute rheumatism (any painful disorder of the muscles, joints or connective tissues).
  • Stomachic: Corm is used as stomachic and tonic.
  • Tonic: It is considered as a restorative in dyspepsia (a disorder of digestive function whose symptom is discomfort, heartburn or nausea) and debility (weak in health or body especially due to old age).
  • Toothache: Crushed seeds relieve toothache.
  • Miscellaneous: Roots in combination with other ingredients is used in the treatment of piles, abdominal colic, elephantiasis, skin and blood diseases, glandular swellings in the neck and urinary diseases.
  • Modern therapy and Elephant Foot Yam
  • Various chemicals that are present in Elephant Foot Yam are amblyone, 3, 5-diacetylambulin, steroids, alkaloids, phenols and flavonoids.

Various biological functions that are attributed to Elephant Foot Yam are:

  • Antibacterial activity against a wide range of bacteria and cytotoxic activity
  • Antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity against liver damage.
  • Significant analgesic activity
  • It also acts as an immunomodulatory agent and regulates the function of immune system.
  • It has shown anthelminthic activity
  • Elephant Foot Yam extract has also shown central nervous system depressant activity, and causes sedation and decrease in locomotor activity.

A Few Formulations of Elephant Foot Yam

  • The various ayurvedic formulations of Elephant Foot Yam are marketed as;
  • Pynil capsules (Prm & Company): It is used in piles and prevents bleeding and itching.
  • Ayushkar pile vati (Chakrapani Ayurveda Clinic & Research Center): It is used in the treatment of piles and fistula.
  • Pilehills (Isha Agro developers Pvt. Ltd.): A herbal formulation for their beneficial treatment of piles, hemorrhoids and in improvement of digestion.

1. Pullaiah T. Encyclopedia of world medicinal plants. Regency Publications, India, 2006, Vol 1, 145.
2. Daniel M. Medicinal plants: Chemistry and properties. Science Publishers, USA, 2006, 199.

Author: Pooja S. Banerjee

A pharmacist by profession,Pooja has research experience in the field of herbal medicine and medicinal chemistry. She has also authored many International and National research and review papers in peer reviewed journals. Her passion for writing has made her foray into the world of medical writing. She writes travel blogs for creative satisfaction.


  1. During my young age, I used to eat this regularly. After several years back when I tried this, there was minor irritation in my throat, not sure what changed in my body. I have to try it again and see

    • Elephant Foot Yam has calcium oxalate raphides, which are needle like crystals. These are behind the irritation in your throat. Their effect can be minimized by heat treatment (boiling before cooking) and acid treatment (e.g. treatment with lemon juice-citric acid, tamarind -tartaric acid, or dried mango powder-stearic and ascorbic acid).

  2. While studying botany in college, I remember this being called amorphophalus.
    As Murthi said above, some are sensitive to this and can cause throat irritation.

  3. Does the irritation go completely once the veg undergoes the abovementioned treatments?

  4. hi,
    my elder sister is pregnant and and her due date is next week. the problem is that she was frequently consuming elephant yam during her pregnancy..she didn’t faced any problem till now. but can this be harmful or there is any side effect of elephant yam during delivery or post delivery.i am worried and even she

  5. salaimanakee says:

    hello, I want to know what is elephant food yam?

  6. how many days eat this for piles treatment ? is it gives complete cure?

  7. I am also working in genus Amorphophallus for India your comment is very useful for anyone

  8. your comment is very useful for anyone, I am also working in Genus Amorphophallus .

  9. Bhavika says:

    We consumed cooked elephants foot yam in a curry, which caused severe irritation in our mouths, this remained till late evening, any remedy for this .

  10. Priya Chetan says:

    I didn’t know this veggie has these many nutritious values, I am seriously surprised and happy to know these facts. Thanks a lot.

  11. I have piles problem. I did surgery twice. Is yam good for piles? If so, how long I have to take it? Which is the best way to cook and eat? Appreciate your early reply on my above requests.

  12. hello, heard that by consuming elephant foot yam, the stones formed in kidney & gal bladder, will disolved. Is it true or mith ?

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