Numerous scientific and clinical studies has been carried out to probe the efficacy of Maca to increase energy levels and sex drive in men and women. As you may notice, there are far more animal studies (specially in mice) than human studies. Mice models are generally used because of their similarity to humans, and this poses many advantages for researchers, to name a few: evaluating possible side effects before their use in humans, ability to control their environment (to isolate the effect of the substance), more flexibility to take and analyse samples and much cheaper cost. These are the reasons why research in animal models is done before human models and tend to be more abundant. However, in some cases the results in animal models doesn’t translate to humans very well, this is the reason why animal models provide a very good reference but you will want to see the actual results in humans before drawing any conclusions.

Here I have compiled the most relevant studies, starting with the ones in humans. More and more evidence in humans is becoming available as researches are starting to see the powerful effect of maca. Some studies are currently being developed, and I will try my best to update this page as they become available. I have also included some relevant studies in rats so you can have an idea of Maca’s effect in mammals in general, which may also apply to humans. I have included the abstract of the publications, with the main findings and important information highlighted like this, make sure to pay attention to these bits of information. It is also worth mentioning that there is a growing body of evidence that supports the use of Maca for bone and cartilage growth and repair (may be important for menopausal women), although in the studies bellow we are only focusing on matters related to sexual health, vitality, and mood.

Research in humans

human modelPlant Foods Hum Nutr

2013 , December
Role of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) Consumption on Serum Interleukin-6 Levels and
Health Status in Populations Living in the Peruvian Central Andes over 4000 m of
Altitude

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a plant that grows at over 4,000 m above sea level in the central Peruvian Andes. The hypocotyls of this plant are traditionally consumed for their nutritional and medicinal properties. The aim of this study was to determine the health status based on a health related quality of life (HRQL) questionnaire (SF-20) and serum levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in subjects that are maca consumers. For this, a cross-sectional study was designed to be performed in 50 subjects from Junin (4,100 m): 27 subjects were maca consumers and 23 were non-consumers. The SF-20 survey is used to obtain a summary measure of health status. The stand up from a chair and sit down (SUCSD) test (to assess lower-extremity function), hemoglobin measurement, blood pressure, sexual hormone levels, serum IL-6 levels and the score of chronic mountain sickness (CMS) were evaluated. Testosterone/estradiol ratio (P <0.05), IL-6 (P < 0.05) and CMS score were lower, whereas the health status score was higher, in maca consumers when compared to non-consumers (P < 0.01). A greater proportion of maca consumers successfully completed the SUCSD test compared to non-consumers (P < 0.01), showing a significant association with lower values of serum IL-6 (P < 0.05). In conclusion, consumption of maca was associated with low serum IL-6 levels and in turn with better health status scores in the SF-20 survey and low chronic mountain sickness scores.

human modelMol Neurobiol

2013 October
The macamide N-3-methoxybenzyl-linoleamide is a time-dependent fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor.

The Peruvian plant Lepidium meyenii (Maca) has been shown to possess neuroprotective activity both in vitro and in vivo. Previous studies have also demonstrated the activity of the pentane extract and its macamides, the most representative lipophilic constituents of Maca, in the endocannabinoid system as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitors. One of the most active macamides, N-3-methoxybenzyl-linoleamide, was studied to determine its mechanism of interaction with FAAH and whether it has inhibitory activity on mono-acyl glycerol lipase (MAGL), the second enzyme responsible for endocannabinoid degradation. Macamide concentrations from 1 to 100 μM were tested using FAAH and MAGL inhibitor assay methods and showed no effect on MAGL. Tests with other conditions were performed in order to characterize the inhibitory mechanism of FAAH inhibition. N-3-methoxybenzyl-linoleamide displayed significant time-dependent and dose-dependent FAAH inhibitory activity. The mechanism of inhibition was most likely irreversible or slowly reversible. These results suggest the potential application of macamides isolated from Maca as FAAH inhibitors, as they might act on the central nervous system to provide analgesic, anti-inflammatory, or neuroprotective effects, by modulating the release of neurotransmitters.

 

human modelEvid Based Complement Alternat Med

2011 , October
Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands.

Lepidium meyenii (maca) is a Peruvian plant of the Brassicaceae family cultivated for more than 2000 years, which grows exclusively in the central Andes between 4000 and 4500 m altitude. Maca is used as a food supplement and also for its medicinal properties described traditionally. Since the 90s of the XX century, an increasing interest in products from maca has been observed in many parts of the world. In the last decade, exportation of maca from Peru has increased from 1,415,000 USD in 2001 to USD 6,170,000 USD in 2010. Experimental scientific evidence showed that maca has nutritional, energizer, and fertility-enhancer properties, and it acts on sexual dysfunctions, osteoporosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, memory and learning, and protects skin against ultraviolet radiation. Clinical trials showed efficacy of maca on sexual dysfunctions as well as increasing sperm count and motility. Maca is a plant with great potential as an adaptogen and appears to be promising as a nutraceutical in the prevention of several diseases.

human modelForsch Komplementmed

2009 , December
Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru–from tradition to science.

This review summarizes the current state of knowledge on Lepidium meyenii (maca), a cruciferous plant (Brassicaceae family) which is cultivated exclusively at an
altitude of 4,000-4,500 m in the Peruvian Central Andes. Maca is traditionally used for its nutritional and presumed medicinal properties. Over the past 20 years, interest in maca has increased in many parts of the world, and since 2005 maca is considered one of the seven Peruvian flag products. Maca is exported as powder, capsules, pills, flour, liquor, and extracts. There are different types of maca with differ-ent colors ranging from white to black. We have studied the pharmacological effects of 3 types; yellow, black, and red maca. Evidence from experimental studies indicates effects of maca on nutrition, fertility, memory, and mood. Black maca has better effects on sperm production than yellow maca which has only moderate effects. Red maca, however, has no effect on sperm production. However, red maca has been shown to reduce prostate size in rats in which prostate hyperplasia had been induced with testosterone enanthate; yellow maca has shown moderate effects here, whereas black maca has not shown any effects. Randomized clinical trials have shown that maca has favorable effects on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire. Maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility, and semen volume. Serum levels of testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH, and prolactin were not affected. The exact mechanisms of action are still unclear, but so far research clearly indicates that various bioactive constituents contribute to the clinical effects reported.

human modelJ Ethnopharmacol

2009 , December
A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen.

AIMS OF THE STUDY: Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp) is consumed both as a sports supplement by strength and endurance athletes, and as a natural stimulant to enhance sexual drive. However, whether or not the postulated benefits of maca consumption are of scientific merit is not yet known. The aim of the study was therefore to investigate the effect of 14 days maca supplementation on endurance performance and sexual desire in trained male cyclists.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eight participants each completed a 40 km cycling time trial before and after 14 days supplementation with both maca extract (ME) and placebo, in a randomised cross-over design. Subjects also completed a sexual desire inventory during each visit.
RESULTS: ME administration significantly improved 40 km cycling time performance compared to the baseline test (P=0.01), but not compared to the placebo trial after supplementation (P>0.05). ME administration significantly improved the self-rated sexual desire score compared to the baseline test (P=0.01), and compared to the placebo trial after supplementation (P=0.03).
CONCLUSIONS: 14 days ME supplementation improved 40 km cycling time trial performance and sexual desire in trained male cyclists. These promising results encourage long-term clinical studies involving more volunteers, to further evaluate the efficacy of ME in athletes and normal individuals and also to explore its possible mechanisms of action.

human modelAndrologia

2009, April
Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a cultivated root belonging to the brassica family used in the Andean region for its supposed aphrodisiac properties. We carried out a double-blind clinical trial on 50 Caucasian men affected by mild erectile dysfunction (ED), randomised to treatment with Maca dry extract, 2400 mg, or placebo. The treatment effect on ED and subjective well-being was tested administrating before and after 12 weeks the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) and the Satisfaction Profile (SAT-P). After 12 weeks of treatment, both Maca- and placebo-treated patients experienced a significant increase in IIEF-5 score (P < 0.05 for both). However, patients taking Maca experienced a more significant increase than those taking placebo (1.6 +/- 1.1 versus 0.5 +/- 0.6, P < 0.001). Both Maca- and placebo-treated subjects experienced a significant improvement in psychological performance-related SAT-P score, but the Maca group higher than that of placebo group (+9 +/- 6 versus +6 +/- 5, P < 0.05). However, only Maca-treated patients experienced a significant improvement in physical and social performance-related SAT-P score compared with the baseline (+7 +/- 6 and +7 +/- 6, both P < 0.05). In conclusion, our data support a small but significant effect of Maca supplementation on subjective perception of general and sexual well-being in adult patients with mild ED.

human modelMenopause

2008, November
Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content

OBJECTIVE: To examine the estrogenic and androgenic activity of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) and its effect on the hormonal profile and symptoms in postmenopausal women.
DESIGN: Fourteen postmenopausal women completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. They received 3.5 g/day of powered Maca for 6 weeks and matching placebo for 6 weeks, in either order, over a total of 12 weeks. At baseline and weeks 6 and 12 blood samples were collected for the measurement of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and sex hormone-binding globulin, and the women completed the Greene Climacteric Scale to assess the severity of menopausal symptoms. In addition, aqueous and methanolic Maca extracts were tested for androgenic and estrogenic activity using a yeast-based hormone-dependent reporter assay.
RESULTS: No differences were seen in serum concentrations of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and sex hormone-binding globulin between baseline, Maca treatment, and placebo (P > 0.05). The Greene Climacteric Scale revealed a significant reduction in scores in the areas of psychological symptoms, including the subscales for anxiety and depression and sexual dysfunction after Maca consumption compared with both baseline and placebo (P < 0.05). These findings did not correlate with androgenic or alpha-estrogenic activity present in the Maca as no physiologically significant activity was observed in yeast-based assays employing up to 4 mg/mL Maca extract (equivalent to 200 mg/mL Maca).
CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary findings show that Lepidium meyenii (Maca) (3.5 g/d) reduces psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and lowers measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity.

human modelAndrologia

2002, December
Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men.

This study was a 12-week double blind placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with placebo. The study aimed to demonstrate if effect of Maca on subjective report of sexual desire was because of effect on mood or serum testosterone levels. Men aged 21-56 years received Maca in one of two doses: 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg or placebo. Self-perception on sexual desire, score for Hamilton test for depression, and Hamilton test for anxiety were measured at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment. An improvement in sexual desire was observed with Maca since 8 weeks of treatment. Serum testosterone and oestradiol levels were not different in men treated with Maca and in those treated with placebo (P:NS). Logistic regression analysis showed that Maca has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, and this effect is not because of changes in either Hamilton scores for depression or anxiety or serum testosterone and oestradiol levels. In conclusion, treatment with Maca improved sexual desire.

human modelAsian J Androl

2001, December
Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men.

AIM: The present study was designed to determine the effect of a 4-month oral treatment with tablets of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on seminal analysis in nine adult normal men aged 24-44 years old.
METHODS: Nine men received tablets of Maca (1500 or 3000 mg/day) for 4 months. Seminal analysis was performed according to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) were measured before and after treatment.
RESULTS: Treatment with Maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not modified with Maca treatment. Increase of sperm count was not related to dose of Maca.
CONCLUSION: Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility by mechanisms not related to LH, FSH, PRL, T and E2.

Research in animal models

rat modelToxicol Mech Methods

2013, October
The transillumination technique as a method for the assessment of spermatogenesis using medicinal plants: the effect of extracts of black maca (Lepidium meyenii) and camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) on stages of the spermatogenic cycle in male rats

Abstract Transillumination technique for assessment of stages of spermatogenic cycle is a useful tool for toxicological studies. This study was designed to determine the effect of two medicinal plants on spermatogenesis in male rats using the transillumination technique. For this, the effect of the combination of a fruit with highest content of ascorbic acid (Myrciaria dubia, camu camu) and extract of black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on seminiferous tubule stages scored by transillumination on intact tubules in adult male rats was assessed. Animals were treated during seven days with vehicle, black maca, camu camu or a mixture of black maca + camu camu and assessed for daily sperm production (DSP), stages of spermatogenic cycle as well as antioxidant activity and levels of flavonoids and polyphenols. Black maca increased stages of spermiation (VII-VIII) and mitosis of germ cells (IX-XI), whereas camu camu increased stages of mitosis (IX-XI) and meiosis (XII). Mixture of maca + camu camu increased stages of spermiation, mitosis and meiosis. All treatments increased DSP (p < 0.05) and epididymal sperm count (p < 0.05). Total polyphenols, flavonoids levels and antioxidant activity were higher in camu camu (p < 0.001) than in black maca. In conclusion, M. dubia (camu camu) has potential effects improving spermatogenesis and co-administered with maca increase stages of mitosis, meiosis and spermiation of the spermatogenic cycle as assessed by the transillumination technique. This technique is becoming increasingly a useful tool for assessment spermatogenesis.

rat modelToxicol Mech Methods

2013, September
A mixture of extracts from Peruvian plants (black maca and yacon) improves sperm count and reduced glycemia in mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes.

We investigated the effect of two extracts from Peruvian plants given alone or in a mixture on sperm count and glycemia in streptozotocin-diabetic mice. Normal or diabetic mice were divided in groups receiving vehicle, black maca (Lepidium meyenii), yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) or three mixtures of extracts black maca/yacon (90/10, 50/50 and 10/90%). Normal or diabetic mice were treated for 7 d with each extract, mixture or vehicle. Glycemia, daily sperm production (DSP), epididymal and vas deferens sperm counts in mice and polyphenol content, and antioxidant activity in each extract were assessed. Black maca (BM), yacon and the mixture of extracts reduced glucose levels in diabetic mice. Non-diabetic mice treated with BM and yacon showed higher DSP than those treated with vehicle (p < 0.05). Diabetic mice treated with BM, yacon and the mixture maca/yacon increased DSP, and sperm count in vas deferens and epididymis with respect to non-diabetic and diabetic mice treated with vehicle (p < 0.05). Yacon has 3.05 times higher polyphenol content than in maca, and this was associated with higher antioxidant activity. The combination of two extracts improved glycemic levels and male reproductive function in diabetic mice. Streptozotocin increased 1.43 times the liver weight that was reversed with the assessed plants extracts. In summary, streptozotocin-induced diabetes resulted in reduction in sperm counts and liver damage. These effects could be reduced with BM, yacon and the BM+yacon mixture.

rat modelToxicol Mech Methods

2011, July
Dose-response effect of black maca (Lepidium meyenii) in mice with memory impairment induced by ethanol.

Previous studies have shown that black variety of maca has beneficial effects on learning and memory in experimental animal models. The present study aimed to determine whether the hydroalcoholic extract of black maca (BM) showed a dose-response effect in mice treated with ethanol 20% (EtOH) as a model of memory impairment. Mice were divided in the following groups: control, EtOH, ascorbic acid (AA) and 0.125, 0.25, 0.50 and 1.00 g/kg of BM plus EtOH. All treatments were orally administered for 28 days. Open field test was performed to determine locomotor activity and water Morris maze was done to determine spatial memory. Also, total polyphenol content in the hydroalcoholic extract of BM was determined (0.65 g pyrogallol/100 g). Mice treated with EtOH took more time to find the hidden platform than control during escape acquisition trials; meanwhile, AA and BM reversed the effect of EtOH. In addition, AA and BM ameliorated the deleterious effect of EtOH during the probe trial. Correlation analyses showed that the effect of BM a dose-dependent behavior. Finally, BM improved experimental memory impairment induced by ethanol in a dose-response manner due, in part, to its content of polyphenolic compounds.

rat modelAndrologia

2011, July
Effect of red maca (Lepidium meyenii) on prostate zinc levels in rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia.

Lepidium meyenii (maca) is a plant that grows exclusively above 4000 m in the Peruvian central Andes. Red maca (RM) extract significantly reduced prostate size in rats with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) induced by testosterone enanthate (TE). Zinc is an important regulator of prostate function. This study aimed to determine the effect of RM on prostate zinc levels in rats with BPH induced by TE. Also, the study attempted to determine the best marker for the effect of RM on sex accessory glands. Rats treated with RM extract from day 1 to day 14 reversed the effect of TE administration on prostate weight and zinc levels. However, RM administered from day 7 to day 14 did not reduce the effect of TE on all studied variables. Finasteride (FN) reduced prostate, seminal vesicle and preputial gland weights in rats treated with TE. Although RM and FN reduced prostate zinc levels, the greatest effect was observed in TE-treated rats with RM from day 1 to day 14. In addition, prostate weight and zinc levels showed the higher diagnosis values than preputial and seminal vesicle weights. In conclusion, RM administered from day 1 to day 14 reduced prostate size and zinc levels in rats where prostatic hyperplasia was induced with TE. Also, this experimental model could be used as accurately assay to determine the effect of maca obtained under different conditions and/or the effect of different products based on maca.

rat modelForsch Komplementmed

2010, June
Effects of different varieties of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized rats.

OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to determine the effect of different varieties of maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized (OVX) rats.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: 36 female rats were randomly divided into 6 groups: sham and OVX rats treated with vehicle, estradiol (40 microg/kg), black, yellow or red maca (63 mg/ml) for 4 weeks. At the end of the treatment, uterine weight, femoral bone and lumbar vertebra histomorphology were assessed.
RESULTS: Ovariectomy reduced weight, diameter and width of the femoral bone. Estradiol, black and red maca treatment reduced the effect of ovariectomy on these variables. Histological analyses revealed that estradiol, black and red maca treatments reversed the effect of ovariectomy by increasing the trabecular bone area in the second lumbar vertebra. Uterine weight was reduced in OVX rats, and estradiol but neither black nor red maca increased uterine weight.
CONCLUSION: Red and black maca have protective effects on bone architecture in OVX rats without showing estrogenic effects on uterine weight.

rat modelEvid Based Complement Alternat Med

2011, February
Aqueous Extract of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Memory Impairment Induced by Ovariectomy in Mice.

The present study aims to test two different doses of aqueous extract of black maca on learning and memory in ovariectomized (OVX) mice and their relation with malonalehyde (MDA), acetylcholinesterase (Ache) and monoamine oxidase (MAO) brain levels. Female mice were divided into five groups: (i) naive (control), (ii) sham, (iii) OVX mice and OVX mice treated with (iv) 0.50 g kg(-1) and (v) 2.00 g kg(-1) black maca. Mice were orally treated with distilled water or black maca during 35 days starting 7 days after surgery. Memory and learning were assessed using the water Morris maze (from day 23-27) and the step-down avoidance test (days 34 and 35). At the end of each treatment, mice were sacrificed by decapitation and brains were dissected out for MDA, Ache and MAO determinations. Black maca (0.5 and 2.0 g/kg) increased step-down latency when compared to OVX control mice. Black maca decreased MDA and Ache levels in OVX mice; whereas, no differences were observed in MAO levels. Finally, black maca improved experimental memory impairment induced by ovariectomy, due in part, by its antioxidant and Ache inhibitory activities.

rat modelAndrologia

2008, June
Antagonistic effect of Lepidium meyenii (red maca) on prostatic hyperplasia in adult mice.

The plants from the Lepidium gender have demonstrated to have effect on the size of the prostate. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a Peruvian plant that grows exclusively over 4000 m above sea level. The present study was designed to determine the effect of red maca (RM) in the prostate hyperplasia induced with testosterone enanthate (TE) in adult mice. Prostate hyperplasia was induced by administering TE, and then these animals (n = 6, each group) were treated with RM or Finasteride (positive control) for 21 days. There was an additional group without prostate hyperplasia (vehicle). Mice were killed on days 7, 14 and 21 after treatment with RM. Testosterone and oestradiol levels were measured on the last day of treatment. Prostatic stroma, epithelium and acini were measured histologically. RM reduced prostate weight at 21 days of treatment. Weights of seminal vesicles, testis and epididymis were not affected by RM treatment. The reduction in prostate size by RM was 1.59 times. Histological analysis showed that TE increased 2-fold the acinar area, effect prevented in the groups receiving TE + RM for 14 (P < 0.05) and 21 (P < 0.05) days and the group receiving TE + Finasteride for 21 days (P < 0.05). TE increased prostatic stroma area and this effect was prevented by treatment with RM since 7 days of treatment or Finasteride. The reduction in prostatic stroma area by RM was 1.42 times. RM has an anti-hyperplastic effect on the prostate of adult mice when hyperplasia was induced with TE acting first at prostatic stromal level.

rat modelAndrologia

2007, August
Effect of chronic treatment with three varieties of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on reproductive parameters and DNA quantification in adult male rats.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the chronic effect of different varieties of Lepidium meyenii (Red Maca, Yellow Maca and Black Maca). Male rats were treated by gavage with aqueous extract of each variety of maca equivalent to 1 g hypocotyl kg(-1) body weight (BW) for 84 days. At the end of the treatment, daily sperm production (DSP), epididymal sperm count (ESC) and sperm count in vas deferens (SCVD) were assessed. In addition, testis DNA quantification was also determined. Any toxic effect was assessed in liver and spleen by histological studies. The results indicate that Yellow Maca and Black Maca improved ESC and that three varieties of maca increased the SCVD without affecting DSP. Moreover, testis DNA levels were not affected by treatment with any of the three varieties of maca. Histological picture of the liver in animals treated with the three varieties of maca was similar to that observed in controls. In conclusion, Yellow and Black Maca increased epididymal sperm count after 84 days of treatment without affecting DSP. Maca seems to act as a modulator of sperm count at the reproductive tract level.

rat modelJ Sex Med

2007, March
Acute and chronic dosing of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on male rat sexual behavior.

INTRODUCTION: The use of natural remedies for the treatment of sexual disorders is under current investigation. For generations people of the rural community in Peru have used Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Maca), because of their belief that it improves fertility and sexual desire.
AIM: To determine the acute and chronic effects of Maca on male sexual behavior and to examine chronic administration of Maca on anxiety.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ejaculatory and mounting behavior and postejaculatory interval. Anxiety tests using an elevated plus maze, locomotion, and social interaction with another male.
METHODS: Maca (25 and 100 mg/kg) was orally administered to male rats for 30 days. Male sexual behavior was monitored after acute, 7 and 21 days of treatment. Anxiety behavior and locomotion were measured at 28-29 days using the elevated plus maze and social interaction tests.
RESULTS: Maca treatment did not produce large changes in male sexual behavior. However, an increase in ejaculation latency and postejaculatory interval was observed after both acute and 7 days of treatment. After 21 days of treatment Maca had no effect on sexual behavior. Chronic administration of Maca did not increase locomotion or anxiety.
CONCLUSION: Acute and short-term administration of Maca produced a small effect of rat male sexual behavior and long-term administration did not increase anxiety.

rat modelPlant Foods Hum Nutr

2007, June
The influence of maca (Lepidium meyenii) on antioxidant status, lipid and glucose metabolism in rat.

This work focused on the effect of Maca on lipid, anti-oxidative, and glucose parameters in hereditary hypertriglyceridemic (HHTg) rat. Maca (1%) was administred to rats as a part of a high-sucrose diet (HSD) for 2 weeks. Rosiglitazone (0.02%) was used as a positive control. Maca significantly decreased the levels of VLDL (very low density lipoproteins), LDL (low density lipoproteins), and total cholesterol, and also the level of TAG (triacylglycerols) in the plasma, VLDL, and liver. Maca, as well as rosiglitazone, significantly improved glucose tolerance, as the decrease of AUC (area under the curve) of glucose showed, and lowered levels of glucose in blood. The activity of SOD (superoxide dismutase) in the liver, the GPX (glutathione peroxidase) in the blood, and the level of GSH (glutathione) in liver increased in all cases significantly. Results demonstrate that maca seems to be promising for a positive influence on chronic human diseases (characterized by atherogenous lipoprotein profile, aggravated antioxidative status, and impaired glucose tolerance), and their prevention.

rat modelAndrologia

2005, October
Effect of Black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on one spermatogenic cycle in rats.

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m above sea level in the Peruvian central Andes. The hypocotyls of this plant are traditionally used in the Andean region for their supposed fertility-enhancing properties. The hypocotyls have different colours. Of these, Black maca has better effects on spermatogenesis. The present study aimed to test the hypothesis that Black maca has early effects during a spermatogenic cycle (12 days) of male rats. For this, testicular spermatid, epididymal sperm and vas deferens sperm counts were measured after 1, 3, 5, 7 and 12 days of treatment with Black maca. Aqueous extract of Black maca was given orally by daily gavage at a dose of 2 g kg(-1). In a spermatogenic cycle, compared with day 1, daily sperm production (DSP) was lower at day 7 (control), whereas with Black maca, the difference was observed at day 12. Epididymal sperm count was higher in rats treated with Black maca at days 1, 3 and 7, but similar to controls at days 5 and 12; similarly sperm counts in vas deferens was higher in rats treated with Black maca in days 3, 5 and 7, but similar to controls at days 1 and 12. From this, it is suggested that first action of Black maca was at epididymal level increasing sperm count after 1 day of treatment, whereas an increase in sperm count was observed in vas deferens at day 3 of treatment. Finally, an increase in DSP was observed after 7 days of treatment with Black maca. Testicular testosterone was not affected after 7 days treatment with Black maca. In conclusion, Black maca affects sperm count as early as 1 day after beginning of treatment.

rat modelBMC Complement Altern Med

2006, June
Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice.

BACKGROUND: Lepidium meyenii Walp. (Brassicaceae), known as Maca, is a Peruvian hypocotyl growing exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m altitude in the central Peruvian Andes, particularly in Junin plateau and is used traditionally to enhance fertility. Maca is a cultivated plant and different cultivars are described according to the color of the hypocotyls.
METHODS: The study aimed to elucidate the effect of Yellow, Red and Black Maca on cognitive function and depression in ovariectomized (OVX) mice. In all experiments OVX mice were treated during 21 days and divided in four groups: control group, Yellow Maca, Red Maca and Black Maca. Latent learning was assessed using the water finding task and the antidepressant activity of the three varieties of Maca was evaluated using the forced swimming test. Animals were sacrificed at the end of each treatment and the uterus were excised and weighed.
RESULTS: Black Maca was the variety that showed the best response in the water finding task, particularly in the trained mice. The three varieties were effective to reduce finding latency in non trained and trained mice (P < 0.05). In the force swimming test, all varieties assessed reduced the time of immobility and increased uterine weight in OVX mice.
CONCLUSION: Black Maca appeared to have more beneficial effects on latent learning in OVX mice; meanwhile, all varieties of Maca showed antidepressant activity.

rat modelJ Ethnopharmacol

2006, February
Effect of short-term and long-term treatments with three ecotypes of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on spermatogenesis in rats.

Lepidium meyenii (Brassicaceae), known as Maca, is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m above sea level in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed fertility-enhancing properties. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that different ecotypes of Maca (Red, Yellow and Black) after short-term (7 days) and long-term (42 days) treatment affects differentially spermatogenesis adult rats. After 7 days of treatment with Yellow and Red Maca, the length of stage VIII was increased (P<0.05), whereas with Black Maca stages II-VI and VIII were increased (P<0.05). Daily sperm production (DSP) was increased in the group treated with Black Maca compared with control values (P<0.05). Red or Yellow Maca did not alter DSP and epididymal sperm motility was not affected by treatment with any ecotype of Maca. After 42 days of treatment, Black Maca was the only ecotype that enhanced DSP (P<0.05). Moreover, Black Maca was the only that increased epididymal sperm motility (P<0.05). In relation to the control group, Red Maca did not affect testicular and epididymal weight nor epididymal sperm motility and sperm count; however, prostate weight was reduced (P<0.05). Black or Yellow Maca did not affect prostate weight. In conclusion, there were differences in the biological response of the three ecotypes of Maca (Yellow, Red and Black). Black Maca appeared to have more beneficial effect on sperm counts and epididymal sperm motility.

rat modelReprod Biol Endocrinol

2005, May
Lepidium meyenii (Maca) increases litter size in normal adult female mice.

BACKGROUND: Lepidium meyenii, known as Maca, grows exclusively in the Peruvian Andes over 4000 m altitude. It has been used traditionally to increase fertility. Previous scientific studies have demonstrated that Maca increases spermatogenesis and epididymal sperm count. The present study was aimed to investigate the effects of Maca on several fertility parameters of female mice at reproductive age.
METHODS: Adult female Balb/C mice were divided at random into three main groups: i) Reproductive indexes group, ii) Implantation sites group and iii) Assessment of uterine weight in ovariectomized mice. Animals received an aqueous extract of lyophilized Yellow Maca (1 g/Kg BW) or vehicle orally as treatment. In the fertility indexes study, animals received the treatment before, during and after gestation. The fertility index, gestation index, post-natal viability index, weaning viability index and sex ratio were calculated. Sexual maturation was evaluated in the female pups by the vaginal opening (VO) day. In the implantation study, females were checked for implantation sites at gestation day 7 and the embryos were counted. In ovariectomized mice, the uterine weight was recorded at the end of treatment.
RESULTS: Implantation sites were similar in mice treated with Maca and in controls. All reproductive indexes were similar in both groups of treatment. The number of pups per dam at birth and at postnatal day 4 was significantly higher in the group treated with Maca. VO day occurred earlier as litter size was smaller. Maca did not affect VO day. In ovariectomized mice, the treatment with Maca increased significantly the uterine weights in comparison to their respective control group.
CONCLUSION: Administration of aqueous extract of Yellow Maca to adult female mice increases the litter size. Moreover, this treatment increases the uterine weight in ovariectomized animals. Our study confirms for the first time some of the traditional uses of Maca to enhance female fertility.

rat modelReprod Biol Endocrinol

2005, January
Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats.

BACKGROUND: Epidemiological studies have found that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This effect
seems to be due to aromatic glucosinolate content. Glucosinolates are known for have both antiproliferative and proapoptotic actions. Maca is a cruciferous cultivated in the highlands of Peru. The absolute content of glucosinolates in Maca hypocotyls is relatively higher than that reported in other cruciferous crops. Therefore, Maca may have proapoptotic and anti-proliferative effects in the prostate.
METHODS: Male rats treated with or without aqueous extracts of three ecotypes of Maca (Yellow, Black and Red) were analyzed to determine the effect on ventral prostate weight, epithelial height and duct luminal area. Effects on serum testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) levels were also assessed. Besides, the effect of Red Maca on prostate was analyzed in rats treated with testosterone enanthate (TE).
RESULTS: Red Maca but neither Yellow nor Black Maca reduced significantly ventral prostate size in rats. Serum T or E2 levels were not affected by any of the ecotypes of Maca assessed. Red Maca also prevented the prostate weight increase induced by TE treatment. Red Maca administered for 42 days reduced ventral prostatic epithelial height. TE increased ventral prostatic epithelial height and duct luminal area. These increases by TE were reduced after treatment with Red Maca for 42 days. Histology pictures in rats treated with Red Maca plus TE were similar to controls. Phytochemical screening showed that aqueous extract of Red Maca has alkaloids, steroids, tannins, saponins, and cardiotonic glycosides. The IR spectra of the three ecotypes of Maca in 3800-650 cm (-1) region had 7 peaks representing 7 functional chemical groups. Highest peak values were observed for Red Maca, intermediate values for Yellow Maca and low values for Black Maca. These functional groups correspond among others to benzyl glucosinolate.
CONCLUSIONS: Red Maca, a cruciferous plant from the highland of Peru, reduced ventral prostate size in normal and TE treated rats.

rat modelAndrologia

2002, June
Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts.

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed properties in improving fertility. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of subacute oral administration of hexanic, methanolic and chloroformic extracts of Maca root on sexual performance in inexperienced male rats. The following sexual performance parameters were evaluated: 1st mount, 1st intromission, ejaculation and post-ejaculatory latencies, intercopulatory interval and copulatory efficacy. All the tested fractions significantly decreased intromission latency and intercopulatory interval and increased intromission frequency and copulatory efficacy (P < 0.05) as compared to controls. Hexanic and methanolic extracts were able to increase mount frequency (MF), while only hexanic fraction significantly improved mount latency (ML) (P=0.038). Globally, only the hexanic fraction significantly improved the majority of the sexual parameters measured. Sub-acute oral administration of hexanic Maca extract improved sexual performance parameters in sexually inexperienced male rats most effectively.

rat modelAsian J Androl

2001, September
Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) roots on spermatogenesis of male rats.

AIM: To determine the effect of oral administration of an aqueous extract from the roots of Lepidium meyenii (maca) on spermatogenesis in adult male rats.
METHODS: Male rats received an aqueous extract of the root (66.7 mg in one mL) twice a day for 14 consecutive days.
RESULTS: Treatment with Lepidium meyenii resulted in an increase in the weights of testis and epididymis but not the seminal vesicle weight. The length and frequency of stages IX-XIV seminiferous tubules, where mitosis occurred, were increased and stages I-VI were reduced in rats treated with Lepidium meyenii.
CONCLUSION: The Lepidium meyenii root invigorates spermatogenesis in male rats by acting on its initial stages (IX-XIV).

rat modelJ Ethnopharmacol

2001, May
Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity.

Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Maca) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed properties to improve energy and fertility. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of acute and chronic Maca pulverised root oral administration on rat sexual behaviour. Sixty male sexually experienced rats (20 group) were daily treated for 15 days with Maca 15 mg kg(-1), Maca 75 mg kg(-1) or saline 0.5 ml kg(-1). The following sexual performance parameters were evaluated at first and last day of treatment: 1st mount (ML), 1st intromission (IL), ejaculation (EL) and postejaculatory (PEL) latencies, intercopulatory interval (ICI) and copulatory efficacy (CE). An activity cage test was carried out to evaluate if Maca-induced locomotion changes could indirectly improve rat sexual performances. It was observed that both lower and higher Maca doses acutely decreased ML, IL and ICI in a significant way (P < 0.05), while only the 75 mg kg(-1) dose decreased the PEL (T = 29, P < 0.05). This effect seems to be the only one dose-dependent. After 15 days of treatment, both doses are able to significantly decrease ML, IL, EL and PEL, while the 75 mg kg(-1) dose decreased the ICI (T = 40, P < 0.05) too. IL, EL and PEL variations seem to be dose-related after chronic treatment. Moreover, chronic Maca treatment induced an apparently not dose-related increase in rat locomotion, during the second 10-min period of observation in the activity cage. The late in Maca-induced locomotion modification excludes that improvement of tested sexual performance parameters is related to an increase in rat aspecific activity. Thus, it was concluded that both acute and chronic Maca oral administration significantly improve sexual performance parameters in male rats.

rat modelArch Latinoam Nutr

2000, June
Nutritional evaluation of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) in albino mice and their descendants. [Article in Spanish]

The Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between the 3700 and 4500 masl at the Peruvian Andes. Traditionally it is attributed nutritional, energizing, fertilizing properties among others. With the purpose of evaluate scientifically the nutritional property of Maca, we carried out a controlled study in two generations of albino Swiss mice (parents and breeding). The parents were aleatorily assigned to one of three nutritional schedules. The food of each group was prepared based on powder from a commercial balanced food (CBF) of which 30% was replaced by raw or cooked Maca according to the corresponding group or pure CBF in the control group. The groups were this way: 1) Raw Maca Group; 2) Cooked Maca Group; and, 3) Control Group. The results showed that the curves of growth were similar and adequate for the three groups. However, the cooked Maca group showed the best curve. These data were better observable in the second generation of animals, with significant statistical difference (p < 0.05). The CBF group had a better growth than raw Maca group. No signs of malnutrition nor overweight were observed in none of the groups. The serum values of total proteins and albumin were statistically superior for the mice group eating cooked Maca than that of the raw Maca and CBF groups. This study demonstrates, in a scientifical evaluation, one of the traditionally attributed properties of Maca, the nutritional capability.

rat modelUrology

2000, April
Effect of a lipidic extract from lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the effect of oral administration of a purified lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii (MacaPure M-01 and M-02) on the number of complete intromissions and mating in normal mice, and on the latent period of erection (LPE) in rats with erectile dysfunction.
METHODS: Mice and rats were randomly divided into several experimental and control groups. A 10% ethanol suspension of M-01 and M-02 was orally administered for 22 days to the experimental groups according to the dosage specified by the experimental design. On day 22, 30 minutes after the dose was administered to the male mice, 2 virgin female mice were placed with 1 male mouse. The number of complete intromissions of each male mouse in 3 hours was recorded. In an assessment of 1 day of mating, each male mouse was cohabited with 5 estrous female mice overnight. The number of sperm-positive females was recorded. The LPE was measured to assess the sexual function in rats with erectile dysfunction. By using a YSD-4G multifunction instrument, an electric pulse at 20 V was applied to stimulate the rat’s penis, and the duration from the start of the stimulus to full erection was measured in seconds as the LPE.
RESULTS: In the normal male mice, the number of complete intromissions during the 3-hour period was 16.33 +/- 1.78, 46.67 +/- 2.39, and 67.01 +/- 2.55 for the control group, M-01 group, and M-02 group, respectively. In the assessment of mating, the number of sperm-positive females increased from 0.6 +/- 0.7 in the control group to 1.5 +/- 0.5 in the M-01 experimental group. The LPE of male rats with erectile dysfunction was 112 +/- 13 seconds with a regular diet (control group). The oral administration of M-01 at a dose of 180 or 1800 mg/kg body weight and M-02 at a dose of 45, 180, or 1800 mg/kg body weight reduced the LPE to 54 +/- 12 seconds, 54 +/- 13 seconds, 71 +/- 12 seconds, 73 +/- 12 seconds, and 41 +/- 13 seconds, respectively. The LPE of the surgical rats treated with M-01 at the lowest dose (45 mg/kg) was 121 +/- 12 seconds; thus, the change was not significant.
CONCLUSIONS: Oral administration of M-01 and M-02 enhanced the sexual function of the mice and rats, as evidenced by an increase in the number of complete intromissions and the number of sperm-positive females in normal mice, and a decrease in the LPE in male rats with erectile dysfunction. The present study reveals for the first time an aphrodisiac activity of L. meyenii, an Andean Mountain herb.