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Elephant Yam (Suran): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction:  

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.1,2 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.3 Read more about the health benefits of elephant yam. 

benefits of elephant yam

Did you know?

  • Elephant yam is rich in potassium, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. source: heart.org
  • The antioxidants present in elephant yam can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • Suran contains a compound called diosgenin, which has been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. source: cancer.gov
  • Elephant yam is a low-calorie vegetable, making it a suitable choice for weight management and calorie-controlled diets. source: choosemyplate.gov
  • Suran contains a significant amount of vitamin B6, providing about 0.4 milligrams per 100 grams. source: nutritionvalue.org

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 

Table 1: Nutritional Value of Elephant Yam4  

Also Read: Drumstick: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Elephant Yam: 

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The elephant yam has another amazing benefit up its sleeve! It’s been found to contain a high amount of omega fatty acids. Now, these fatty acids might be extremely beneficial for our bodies, especially when it comes to regulating our good cholesterol levels. They may do a fantastic job of keeping our hearts happy and healthy.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

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.2    
  • 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 5  

Also Read: Sweet Corn: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Potential Uses of Elephant Yam (Suran) for Overall Health: 

Elephant yam has been used in Ayurveda and Folk medicine.6 It has several uses as described: 

1. Possible use of elephant yam for diabetes  

Judging from what I’ve witnessed, elephant yam may have impressive effects on our digestive system. It’s a real multitasker! It has been known to potentially address various digestive issues such as vomiting, loss of appetite (anorexia), and indigestion (dyspepsia). It might be like a magical remedy for common stomach troubles.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

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 sugar7

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.8 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.2 

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 

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.5There 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. 5 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.9 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.10 

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.  

Also Read: Green Chilli: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How To Use Elephant Yam? 

Elephant yam can be used in the following ways: 

  • Elephant yam can be baked. 
  • Elephant yam can be eaten raw after soaking it in a vinegar solution.9 
  • Ayurvedic formulations: avaleha, paka, churna, vatika and loha.5 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Also Read: Immunity Boosting Foods for Kids: A Research-Based Guide to Healthier Nutrition

Side Effects of Elephant Yam (Suran): 

A few elephant foot yam side effects that were observed in studies are: 

  • It may cause itching in the mouth 
  • Burning sensation in the mouth 
  • Itchy skin 
  • Reddening of skin 
  • Wheal on external skin or hands 
  • May cause oxalate secretion in urine 
  • May increase the amount of faeces 11 

Moreover, if you experience any additional adverse reactions to elephant yam, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Precautions To Take with Elephant Yam: 

General precautions should be taken while having elephant yam as any other general medicine. Special care should be taken by pregnant women and lactating mothers. You must consult your doctor before having elephant yam. Precaution should be taken before giving elephant yam to elderly or children. In such cases, you must have elephant yam only if it is prescribed by your doctor. 

Interactions of Elephant Yam with Other Drugs: 

There is not enough evidence on interaction of elephant yam with other drugs. Further studies on interaction of elephant foot yam are required. Therefore, it is essential to consult your doctor if you are on any other medication before consuming elephant foot yam.  

Also Read: Raw Papaya: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

1) Which drug may interact with elephant yam? 

There is a need for more research as there is not enough evidence on interaction of elephant yam with other drugs. Therefore, it is essential to consult your doctor if you are on any other medication before consuming elephant foot yam.  

2) What are the benefits and side effects of elephant foot yam? 

Elephant foot yam may be potentially used to treat diabetes, liver, and gastrointestinal diseases.5 It may also be used as an antifungal, antibacterial and anthelmintic. 5 The side effects of elephant yam may be itching and burning sensation in the mouth, pruritis, erythema, wheal on external skin or hands, may cause urinary oxalate secretion and may increase the amount of faeces.12 You must seek immediate medical help if you experience any of these side effects. 

3) What are elephant yam (Suran) nutrition facts? 

Elephant yam contains fats, proteins, dietary fibres, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, other minerals, and phytoconstituents.5 

4) Can elephant yam be used to cure Covid-19? 

No, as of now, no studies have shown use of elephant yam for Covid-19. 

5) Is elephant yam used for cancer? 

Elephant yam may have cytotoxic property (ability to kill cells which can be beneficial in tumour growth), therefore elephant yam may be used for cancer.5 However, cancer is a serious health condition and requires proper diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, a doctor’s consultation is necessary. 

References: 

  1. Ravi V. Growth and Productivity of Elephant Foot Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst. Nicolson): an Overview Integrated crop, water and nutrient management for improving productivity of tropical tuber crops View project. 2009 [cited 2022 Jul 19]; Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268064021 
  1. Dey YN, Mahor S, Kumar D, Wanjari M, Gaidhani S, Jadhav A. Gastrokinetic activity of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius tuber in rats. Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2022 Jul 19];5(1):36. [cited 2022 Jul 19] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4805145/ 
  1. Nedunchezhiyan M, Saurabh A, Ranasingh N. Elephant Foot Yam: A Commercial Crop for Orissa. Orissa Review. 2006; [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2022 Jul 19] Available from: https://magazines.odisha.gov.in/Orissareview/Aug2006/engpdf/aug-06.pdf#page=71  
  1. Food Data Central [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jul 19] Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170071/nutrients 
  1. Dey YN, Ota S, Srikanth N, Jamal M, Wanjari M. A phytopharmacological review on an important medicinal plant – Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. Ayu [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2022 Jul 19];33(1):27. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC3456858/ 
  1. Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson | Species [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jul 19]. Available from: https://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/244525 
  1. Anti-diabetic Effect of Elephant-foot Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolious (Dennst.) Nicolson) in Streptozotocin-induced Diabetic Rats [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jul 19]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230757446_Anti-diabetic_Effect_of_Elephant-foot_Yam_Amorphophallus_paeoniifolious_Dennst_Nicolson_in_Streptozotocin-induced_Diabetic_Rats 
  1. A. H, T. SVA. Analgesic activity of aqueous extract of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius in Swiss albino mice. International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology [Internet]. 2019 May 23 [cited 2022 Jul 19];8(6):1327–30. Available from: https://www.ijbcp.com/index.php/ijbcp/article/view/3341 
  1. Health Benefits of Yams – Health Tips [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jul 19]. Available from: https://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/health-benefits-of-yams-health-tips.htm 
  1. Dey YN, Sharma G, Wanjari MM, Kumar D, Lomash V, Jadhav AD. Beneficial effect of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius tuber on experimental ulcerative colitis in rats. Pharmaceutical Biology [Internet]. 2017 Sep 6 [cited 2022 Jul 19];55(1):53. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7011945/ 
  1. (PDF) Oral toxicity of elephant foot yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius) tuber in mice [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jul 20]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309493423_Oral_toxicity_of_elephant_foot_yam_Amorphophallus_paeoniifolius_tuber_in_mice 

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