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|definition=Diosgenin is a pharmaceutical used for the synthesis of cortisone, progesterone, and other steroid products.[1]


Diosgenin is made by hydrolysis of saponins, which are extracted from Dioscorea villosa, a plant which grows in North America. It is also present in a number of other plant species which mainly occur in North America. [1]. Extracts ofDioscorea villosa containing diosgenin are sold in a variety of pharmacy and health food stores because of their presumed ability to minimize post-menopausal symptoms. [2] It is also thought to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, and to reduce high blood pressure. [3] [4]

It has a very low water solubility 0.02 mg/l, is very hydrophobic is therefore in the marine environment expected to be mostly associated to organic matter, particles and sediments. It is also expected to have a high potential towards bioaccumulation. [5]

Environmental standards and legislation

Included in the OSPAR list of substances of priority action