|Segment of a Dioscorea opposita tuber|
Dioscorea batatas auct.
Dioscorea opposita is an exception to the rule that yams must be cooked before consumption (due to harmful substances in the raw state). In Japanese cuisine, it is eaten raw and grated, after only a relatively minimal preparation: the whole tubers are briefly soaked in a vinegar-water solution, to neutralize irritant oxalate crystals found in their skin. The raw vegetable is starchy and bland, mucilaginous when grated, and may be eaten plain as a side dish, or added to noodles.
Dioscorea opposita is used in the Japanese noodle dish tororo udon/soba and as a binding agent in the batter of okonomiyaki. The grated nagaimo is known as tororo (in Japanese). In tororo udon/soba, the tororo is mixed with other ingredients that typically include tsuyu broth (dashi), wasabi, and green onions.
In Japanese, it is known as nagaimo (lit. 'long yam'; kanji: 長芋; hiragana: ながいも). Furthermore, nagaimo is classified into ichōimo (lit. 'ginkgo-leaf yam'; kanji: 銀杏芋; hiragana: いちょういも), or yamatoimo (lit. Yamato yam; kanji: 大和芋; hiragana: やまといも), depending on root shapes.
In Korea it is called ma (hangul: 마), "sanwu(山芋, 산우)", seoyeo(薯蕷, 서여), or sanyak(山藥, 산약).
In Vietnam, the yam is called củ mài or khoai mài. When this yam is processed to become a medicine, the yam is called hoài sơn or tỳ giải.
In the Ilokano language of the northern Philippines it is called tuge.
Non-food uses 
The jelly-like substance made from grating the yam, tororojiru (Japanese: とろろ汁), is often served in, or alongside, a number of other dishes. However, during the Edo period, tororojiru was also widely used as a personal lubricant for sexual activities, and it was thus considered improper for it to be eaten by a woman. This aversion also derives from the loud slurping sound one makes when eating it, which was considered to be un-ladylike.
Traditional uses 
||This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (July 2012)|
Shanyao root, 山藥, Radix Dioscoreae oppositae, falls within the Chinese herbal medicine category of Tonify Qi materia medica. Within this category it has specialized and important properties which make it one of the most important and commonly used materia medica in the Chinese medicine repertoire. As a tonifying herb which enters the kidney organ (Zang) and/or channel (Jing), its role is fundamental, in accordance with the dictum that "the kidney is the root of Yin and Yang of all the organs (Zang-fu). Shanyao is classified as being of neutral temperature, an important property which means that, while it significantly tonifies the Qi, it does not at the same time cause Heat; in this way it is able to tonify Qi without injuring the Yin, an important advantage in the treatment of patients with deficient Yin. In this role of tonifying Qi without injuring the Yin it appears in such classical formulas as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, 六味地黃丸, the Six Flavours Rehmannia Pill, and its many derivative and related formulas.
Shan Yao is also used in situations where it is necessary to tonify Qi, but where the Yin is not deficient. In this usage it is usually used prepared by dry-frying (chao, 炒), which alters its temperature property to slightly Warm. The slightly Warm property enables it to Warm the spleen, another organ/channel which it enters, enabling the spleen to Dry Dampness, but without injuring Blood, a dimension of the Yin. A typical formula where dry-fried Shan Yao is used to tonify Spleen Qi is Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, 參苓白術散, Ginseng Poria Atractylodes Powder. It is also frequently found dry-fried in Chinese herbal dermatology in formulas for treating Blood Dryness where it is necessary to warmly tonify Spleen Qi, to enable it to Transform residual Dampness, but without drying Blood or Yin.
Weight Loss 
See also 
- Dunn, C. and B. Torigoe (1969). The Actors Analects. New York: Columbia University Press. p51.
- Bensky, Clavey, Stöger and Gamble, Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Seattle, 2004, p. 723 ff
- Xu and Wang, Chinese Materia Medica: Combinations and Applications, 2002, p. 526 ff
- Scheid, Bensky, Ellis & Barolet, Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas and Strategies, Seattle, 2009, p. 365 ff.
- Scheid, Bensky, Ellis & Barolet,Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas and Strategies, Seattle, 2009, p. 314 ff.
- Xu, Dermatology in Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2004
- "My Microbiome and Me", Mara Hvistendahl, Science, vol. 336, page 1248-1250, 8 June 2012.