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ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Dioscorea zingiberensis C. H. Wright (D. zingiberensis), Dioscoreaceae, is used extensively in traditional Chinese medicines. The aim of the current review paper is to give a comprehensive overview of the traditional usage and phytochemistry of the plant. Clinical studies performed and products prepared from the plant and active principles will be mentioned. In addition a review of the taxonomy of the genus Dioscorea is given.MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic search on literature has been performed in databases like Google Scholar, Science Direct, Scifinder, Web of Science, and in Chinese databases (China Knowledge Resource Integrated, i.e., CNKI and Wanfang) including Ph.D. and M.Sc. dissertations. These from the period 1983-2016 have been searched. RESULTS: D. zingiberensis is an endemic plant in China widely distributed in some provinces, especially Hubei and Shaanxi. The rhizomes are the medicinal part in Dun-Ye-Guan-Xin-Ning tablets and are used for isolation of diosgenin. Steroidal saponins are believed to be the active principles. More than 70 compounds have been identified. Several of these have been tested in preclinical assays and clinical trials. A wide spectrum of biological effects including cardiovascular, anti-thrombosis, hyperlipidemia, neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory, and anthelmintic effect has been verified. CONCLUSIONS: Because of the promising results from the investigations on the plant material of D. zingiberensis, further in depth analyses ought to be performed to evaluate its potential as either a traditional drug or a source of bioactive principle. The presently performed studies do not explain mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics (ADME properties), or toxicity. All of these topics need more elaborate investigations.