The Enduring Light of Dioscorea Batatas

Written by Andy Hume

Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat everything from skin maladies to digestion issues, diabetes, and hypertension, dioscorea batatas is a truly fascinating and invaluable plant.

Also known as the Chinese yam and the root of light, batatas dioscorea is native to many parts of East Asia and grows roots and tubers that can reach over a meter below the earth. Above ground its vines grow three to five meters. 

At Kjaer Weis, dioscorea batatas is an ingredient used widely to nurture healthy skin and promote a radiant glow. Explains Kjaer Weis founder, Kirsten Kjaer Weis, “Used on skin, there’s intuitive intelligence to it unlike anything I’ve ever seen, zooming in exactly on what you need help with. Rosacea, wound healing, eczema, acne, texture, tone, radiance. Its impact is incalculable.”

 In Chinese medicine, a ground solution of the plant’s root is used to soften the skin, manage skin disorders, help heal wounds, and treat burns and rashes through its proven anti-inflammatory effects. Other recent scientific studies have shown that dioscorea batatas extracts can help encourage the growth of beneficial digestive bacteria, and it is used for weight loss and treatment of diabetes.

Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamic agriculture, gave dioscorea batatas its designation as “the root of light” because he believed it was the plant that could most thoroughly store “light ether” in its roots.

In his study of anthroposophy, Steiner believed that the spiritual world and the human soul could be defined as specifically as is the world of science. He studied the four ethers: warmth, tone, life, and light. The four ethers also relate to growing cycles, the four seasons, the sun, the moon, and the four elements.

Light ether, related to the physical element air, is what illuminates the world, it makes plants grow and manifests in humans as lightness, precision, and the ability to stand up straight. Steiner found the root of light to be high in light ether and he believed that this is what imbued the plant with so many powerful healing properties.

Explains Kjaer Weis, “When I hear our customers say, ‘I don’t know what it is about your products, but I just love how they make me feel,’ I believe that ingredients like dioscorea batatas are what they are experiencing. It’s the power of Mother Nature grown with care and bottled.”

Called “radice di luce'' in Italian, most of the Chinese yam used in Kjaer Weis products is grown by biodanymic growers in Italy. “Much of the intangible feeling that our customers get comes from our farming partners,” says Kjaer Weis. “They have a huge love and appreciation for what these plants give us and they are great caretakers of the planet.”

To allow the roots to grow to their full potential, the Italian producers grow dioscorea batatas in huge, custom-made wooden boxes. Following moon cycles and biodynamic techniques, they ensure that the roots are fully suffused with healing nutrients and full of the light ether.

For use in Kjaer Weis cosmetics, the roots are then extracted into liquid form using a proprietary technique by their artisan partner-manufacturer. The result is a refinement of the essence of the root of light in its most concentrated, stimulating and healing form.

Whether ingested for its metabolic benefits and to combat hypertension, or used externally to soothe the skin, heal cuts, and promote a healthy glow, the root of light is a powerful force of the natural world. It is abundant in proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and saponins, helping to increase cell regeneration. 

Ancient Chinese practitioners intuitively understood what science has proved in modern times—dioscorea batatas is an essential ingredient for a healthy, thriving human mind, body, and biome

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