You’ll hear us talk a lot on this blog about the absurd amount of health benefits associated with Tongkat Ali, one of the supplements we offer here at Herbolab. However, it isn’t the only supplement we offer. We’ll get to the power of Korean Red Ginseng in another post, but for this one will focus on Maca. We’ll touch on some of the different, non-sexual health benefits of this wonder-root, as well as what makes it so impressive as a supplement We will eventually end up discussing the thing you’re probably most interested in: what can Maca do for my performance in the bedroom?
Before we get into that, it’s important to explain exactly what Maca is, and why it’s such an impressive herbal supplement in the first place. Maca is what is known as a Peruvian Tuber, a type of thick part of a stem of rhizome that can be found underground, similar to a potato in the way it grows and is harvested. It is almost exclusively found in the Andes Mountains, a mountain range that runs all along the western side of South America. Now that we know what Maca is, and where it’s found, let’s get into some of the health benefits. First, though, let’s take a look at a story about some ancient warriors.
Now, since there aren’t any Inca left for us to interview about this, we’ll have to take the legend itself at face value. Rumor has it, though, that, prior to going into battle, the Incan warriors would all gather round and share in the ritual of chewing some Maca. This, they believed, would increase their stamina, strength, and resilience during a, particularly taxing fight. Based on what we know about the root itself, they weren’t terribly far off.
In addition, the Peruvian people used to consume Maca since they believed that not only it added to the strength they require for battle, but also, Maca helped them to survive the harsh climate as well. The Peruvian people also faced infertility problems but that was just another area where Maca offered its help and they were more than glad to accept it. It was probably then when Maca had earned its status as one of Nature’s best aphrodisiacs – a title that still stands by the term Maca. ((Bahhary, S. & Heinrich, M. (2018). Is the hype around the reproductive claims of Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) justified? The Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 211:126-170. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.08.003))
One of the coolest things about Maca is that it is an adaptogen. ((Valentová, K. & Ulrichová, J. (2003). Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii – Prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases. Biomed Papers of the Medical Faculty of the University of Palacky, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia, 147(2):119-30. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15037892)) As the root of the word suggests, Maca “listens” to your body and only gives off exactly what you need at any given time.
The way this works is actually very simple; the phytochemicals in the Maca root work with your own biochemistry to adapt to a specific stress that your system might be under. Whether this is some of the root’s many chemicals helping to regulate your endocrine system or the fact that the signals it sends to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland can help to balance your mood, boost your energy levels, and even rid your body of toxins, Maca has some serious credentials in terms of what it may do to meet your body’s unique needs.
You see, Maca does not have one single mechanism of the act – it has many. This is one of the reasons why researchers all around the world are yet unable to completely describe all of the mechanisms of the act and determine one main mechanism. But that does not change the fact that we are talking about a high-quality natural supplement that we recommend to all of our readers!
Maca is not only known by its aphrodisiac properties. It is also known by being a powerful antioxidant able to neutralize the free radicals found in the body and with that eliminate any oxidative stress which potentially threatens to cause serious health problems such as chronic diseases, diabetes, heart problems, surgery complications and so on. ((Sandoval, M., Okuhama, N. N., Angeles, F. M., Melchor, VV., Condezo, L. A., Lao, J., & Miller, M. J. S. (2002). Antioxidant activity of the cruciferous vegetable Maca (Lepidium meyenii). Food Chemistry, 79(2):207-213. Doi: 10.1016/S0308-8146(02)00133-4))
One of the other stellar benefits of the root is that it has been known to give the consumer a rush of energy similar to caffeine, but without the side effects of drinking fifteen cups of coffee a day.
This is a direct result of the root’s consumption causing a rush of B vitamins to enter your system. The wonderful thing about B vitamins is that they’re also excellent for helping the metabolic process to convert stored fat into energy. Not only is it good for burning fat, but it’s also good for a rush of energy resulting from that fat being burned. Maca is also naturally high in other essential minerals, such as phosphorous and iron, that are known to combat fatigue. As such, the root simultaneously gives you energy while eliminating fatigue, ((Li, J., Sun, Q., Meng, Q., Wang, L., Xiong, W., & Zhang, L. (2017). The anti-fatigue activity of polysaccharide fractions from Lepidium meyenii Walp. (maca). International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 95:1305-1311. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2016.11.031)) which causes a lack of energy to begin with. In this way, it pulls a sort of double duty in giving you the energy you crave.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. In addition to all of the more general health benefits discussed above, Maca has been known for one thing perhaps more than anything else: sexual health. ((Gonzales, G. F., Villaorduña, L., Gasco, M., Rubio, J., & Gonzales, C. (2014). Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp), a review of its biological properties. Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental Salud Publica, 31(1):100-10. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718534))
Maca has been known to be able to treat the problems with low testosterone as well as all of the complications that follow such as reduced libido, low sexual stamina, loss of muscle mass and reduced physical performance. In fact, a study conducted compared the effects of Maca with those of a placebo regarding their ability to efficiently increase the libido. The results clearly showed that Maca has been responsible for a higher increase of libido among the participants as compared with the effects of the placebo. ((Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Vega, K., Chung, A., Villena, A., Gonez, C., & Castillo, S. (2002). Effects of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia, 34(6):367-72. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472620))
Now, admittedly, the actual number of studies conducted on this particular use is relatively low. That being said, the reports of men who’ve used Maca as a supplement and seen gains in their performance, as well as in the realm of dealing with issues like erectile dysfunction, are simply too plentiful to totally ignore.
One of the other, more scientifically validated benefits of Maca for your sexual health, and easily one that the Incan men had some understanding of, is dealing with fertility. In one study, in particular, men who were using Maca as a supplement saw serious gains in sperm count, motility, and even in semen volume. ((Gonzales, G. F. (2012). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012:193496. doi: 10.1155/2012/193496))
In another study published in the Andrologia only recently this year (2018), Maca was proven to be able to increase the fertility among both females and males as well as improve the sperm count among males as well. ((Sanchez-Salazar, L. & Gonzales G. F. (2018). Aqueous extract of yellow maca (Lepidium meyenii) improves sperm count in experimental animals but response depends on hypocotyl size, pH and routes of administration. Andrologia, 50(3). doi: 10.1111/and.12929))
While the reason for this is still not entirely clear to us even today, the results are certainly there and certainly support the notion that Maca is a superb supplement for those who need an extra boost; especially men who, with their partners, have decided to attempt to have children.
For the Incan warriors of yesteryear, this wonder-root was seen as a way to improve stamina and strength when going into battle. This idea can still be translated to the modern man, though perhaps in relation to much tamer battles, such as a sales pitch or a boardroom meeting as opposed to jungle warfare. Whatever your motivation, the end result is a number of benefits to your physical, mental, and sexual health that cannot be ignored, and is definitely worth considering when it comes to selecting a supplement.