By Reviewed by Published on September 24, 2018 Updated on December 18, 2019
maca-supplement

Maca

Maca is a biennial plant native to South America specifically the high Andes mountains of Peru. It was used to manage infertility and sexual dysfunction among the natives of Peru as well as an energy booster by the Incan warriors so as to be fierce on the battlefield. It has been found that maca contains properties that may be useful in aiding oxidative stress, prostate cancer, depression, low sperm count, low libido, diabetes and much more.

Also, it has been found to be beneficial in regulating important hormones in the body, enhancing mood state, protecting the skin from damage caused by direct exposure to sunlight, increasing endurance, and relieving stress amongst other things. There are many other amazing health benefits of maca. For more information on the benefits of maca and how it works, read on below and discover why the ancient and present-day Peruvian natives trust this herb to improve their health and that of their livestock.

What Is Maca?

Maca is an edible medicinal plant that belongs to the family Brassicaceae. It is native to the high Andes mountains of Peru, in South America.[1]Gonzales, G. F. (2011, October 2). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2012/193496

Maca has a growth size and habit that resembles that of turnips and radishes. This herb goes by many names in different regions across the globe.[2]Gonzales, G. F. (2011, October 2). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2012/193496

The binomial and Latin name of the plant is Lepidium meyenii. It also goes by the names Pepper Grass, Peruvian Ginseng, and Pepper Weed. In Spanish, it goes by the names Maca and Maka. And in Quechua, the herb goes by Maca-Maca, Maino, Ayak Chichira and Ayak Willku.

This plant sprouts a thin, short green top with frilly leaves on the surface of the soil. It can grow anywhere between 4.7 to eight inches in height. During its vegetative phase, maca may grow off-white flowers.

These flowers are then accompanied by fruits that measure about five millimeters. Each of these fruits contains two small ovoid seeds. These seeds are reddish-gray in color and are about 2.5 mm small.

Although maca is a biennial plant, it is also considered to be annual. The herb itself has the ability to complete its life cycle within a year if the seasons were favorable.

Maca grows in an environment of 11-12º S latitude and at an elevation of up to 4,400 m above sea level. This herb prefers to grow in an environment of ample sunlight. Strong winds are also often an advantage.[3]Gonzales, G. F. (2011, October 2). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2012/193496

Maca grows well in a rocky, sedimentary dark clay soil. It is very resistant and will thrive even under harsh weather conditions.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the domestication of Maca began in the 17th century. That was about 2,000 years ago in Junin, Central Peru. Reports also state that Junin natives used maca after seeing its effects on farm animals.

The animals became more productive due to increased fertility and energy. This benefit of the herb led researchers to investigate its efficacy in humans.

Over the years, there has been significant growth in agricultural and commercial maca. It is now grown in other regions across the globe. Among these countries are Brazil and China. Although, it is unsure if these herbs are the same as Peruvian grown ones when it comes to composition.

What Is Maca Root?

maca rootMaca is sought after for its fleshy hypocotyls. In simpler terms, these hypocotyls refer to the roots of the plant. These roots may contain several medicinal properties.

Maca root varies in size and shape. They come in flattened circular, triangular, spherical, and rectangular forms. Roots that come in triangular shapes are generally the smallest in size.

Maca roots also differ in color. They come in four different colors:

  • red maca root
  • purple maca root
  • cream-yellow maca root
  • black maca root

The roots of this herb may have different appearances but they all have the same properties. The color difference is only due to its anthocyanin content. Anthocyanin is a flavonoid that gives plants their pigments.[4]Khoo, H. E., Azian, A., Tang, S. T., & Lim, S. M. (2017, August 13). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1). doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779

The maca root color, or phenotype, usually has no bearing to the efficacy of the herb. Although, it is important for commercial purposes.

Black maca is often preferred by many due to its sweet and subtle bitter taste. The yellow variety, on one hand, is sought after for its large size and tangy taste. This is the main reason why the latter is more popular and generic.

Maca root is often cooked as food, consumed with other vegetables. It was also tossed in soups or made into jam. It is also made into porridge.

Maca root is also dried and ground to make flour, giving it the name harina de maca. Harina de maca may serve several baking purposes.

Dried maca root is also marketed as a supplement. Most manufacturers extract its active components and gelatinize it for easy absorption. Dried maca powder is good to store for several years, under good conditions.[5]Gonzales, G. F. (2011, October 2). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2012/193496

Moreover, beer is also produced from maca root, known as chicha de maca. This liquor is often made from black maca root.

Maca root, in general, gets praises from many as a medicinal herb. It is popular for its ability to improve sperm quality and fertility, among others. Although, studies conducted on the efficacy of the root in humans remain inconclusive.

Maca Leaves

Maca leaves may also impose a few health benefits for both humans and animals.

Maca leaves are edible like other vegetables. They make a great addition to cooking and salads.  These leaves may also serve as fodder for livestock.

Other Plants That Are Similar to Maca 

It is common to confuse Maca with the following:

  • Lepidium weddelii
  • Lepidium peruvinarum Chacon
  • Lepidium affne
  • Lepdium gelidum

Other species related to the plant are the following:

  • Lepdium sativam
  • Lepdium kalenbornii C.L. Hitchcock
  • Lepdium meyenii Walp
  • Lepdium bipinnatifdum Desvaux
  • Lepdium chichicara Desvaux

What Are the Components of Maca (composition)

Maca has several components that may be the driving force behind its health benefits. The herb contains alkamides, methoxyglucotropaeolin, and polyphenols. It also has glucotoropeaolin, and (IR,3S)-1-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline-3-carboxylic acid.[6]Chain, F. E., Grau, A., Martins, J. C., & Catalán, C. A. (2014, May). Macamides from wild ‘maca’, Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Brassicaceae). Phytochemistry Letters, 8, 145-148. doi: 10.1016/j.phytol.2014.03.005[7]Esparza, E., Hadzich, A., Kofer, W., Mithöfer, A., & Cosio, E. G. (2015, August). Bioactive maca (Lepidium meyenii) alkamides are a result of traditional Andean postharvest drying practices. Phytochemistry, 116, 138-148. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.030

The roots also contain the following compounds:

Aromatic glucosinolates

Aromatic glucosinolates are phytochemicals found in most vegetables. When consumed, these glucosinolates convert into active compounds that may combat cancer.[8]Soundararajan, P., & Kim. J. S. (2018, November 15). Anti-Carcinogenic Glucosinolates in Cruciferous Vegetables and Their Antagonistic Effects on Prevention of Cancers. Molecules, 23(11). doi: 10.3390/molecules23112983

Macamides and Macaenes

Macamides and Macaenes are compounds found only in the maca plant.[9]Lippmann, D., Lehmann, C., Florian, S., Barknowitz, G., Haack, M., Mewis, I., … & Kipp, A. P. (2014). Glucosinolates from pak choi and broccoli induce enzymes and inhibit inflammation and colon cancer differently. Food & Function, 5(6), 1073-1081. Retrieved from https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2014/fo/c3fo60676g/unauth#!divAbstract

These compounds may impose benefits in boosting energy and endurance.[10]Yang, Q., Jin, W., Lv, X., Dai, P., Ao, Y., Wu, M.,…& Yu, L. (2015, April 4). Effects of macamides on endurance capacity and anti-fatigue property in prolonged swimming mice. Pharmaceutical Biology, 54(5), 827-34. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036

Additionally, macamides may have neuroprotective properties. They may have the ability to revert pain threshold alterations. As a result, it may relieve articular and neuropathic pain.[11]Gugnani, K. S., Vu, N., Rondón-Ortiz, A. N., Böhlke, M., Maher, T. J., & Pino-Figueroa, A. J. (2018, February). Neuroprotective activity of macamides on manganese-induced mitochondrial disruption in U-87 MG glioblastoma cells. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 340, 67-76. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2017.12.014

Nutritional Benefits of Maca

Here are the nutritional facts of maca:

Maca and Amino Acids

Maca contains essential amino acids. Among these are:

  • Leucine
  • Arginine
  • Alanine
  • Lysine
  • Glycine

Maca and Vitamins:

Maca contains the following vitamins:

  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Ascorbic Acid

Maca and Fatty Acids

Maca is also a great source of the following fatty acids:

  • C12-0 -lauric
  • C13-1-7 trideconoic
  • C13-0 tridecoanoic
  • C14-0 myrstic
  • C15-1-7 pentadecanoic
  • C16-1-9 palmtoleic
  • C16-0 palmitic
  • C17-1-9 heptadecenoic
  • C17-0 heptadecanoic
  • C18-2-9-12 linoleic
  • C18-1-9 oleic
  • C18-0 steric
  • C19-1-11 nonadecenoic
  • C19-0 – nonadecanoic
  • C20-1-15 eisosenoic
  • C22-0 behanic
  • C24-1-15 nervonic
  • C-24-0 lignocenic

Maca and Minerals:

Maca consists of the following minerals:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Boron

Maca and Sterols

Maca also contains the following sterols:

  • Brassicasterol
  • Campesterol
  • Ergosterol
  • Ergostadienol
  • Sitosterol

How Maca Works

Several studies about maca found that this herb has a lot of potential health benefits. Although, the information when it comes to its actual mechanisms remains limited.

As mentioned earlier, maca contains several amino acids. These amino acids may have beneficial impacts on sexual function and fertility.

Additionally, the herb is rich in vitamins that are crucial to ATP production. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is a molecule that supplies energy to the cells.

Maca is also a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Ascorbic acid functions as an antioxidant, while riboflavin supports growth. The latter also assists in red blood cell production.

Maca root also contains minerals that aid the body to function. In fact, one study looked at the benefits of maca on athletic endurance. It pointed out that the herb post benefits on performance and endurance due to its macamides. It was also noted that it may reduce fatigue, allowing better athletic performance.[12]Yang, Q., Jin, W., Lv, X., Dai, P., Ao, Y., Wu, M.,…& Yu, L. (2015, April 4). Effects of macamides on endurance capacity and anti-fatigue property in prolonged swimming mice. Pharmaceutical Biology, 54(5):827-34. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036

Another study looked at the effects of maca on oxidative stress.  The said study pointed out that the herb may work by reducing free radicals. And as a result, it may prevent oxidative stress. It may also have the ability to prevent any other diseases caused by free radicals.[13]Zha, S., Zhao, Q., Chen, J., Wang, L., Zhang, G., Zhang, H., & Zhao, B. (2014, October 13). Extraction, purification and antioxidant activities of the polysaccharides from maca (Lepidium meyenii). Carbohydrate Polymers, 111, 584-587.doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.05.017

Moreover, maca root may also have aphrodisiac properties. This may be beneficial in improving sexual health, sperm count, and motility.[14]Inoue, N., Farfan, C., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016, September 29). Effect of butanolic fraction of yellow and black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on the sperm count of adult mice. Andrologia, 48(8), 915-21. doi: 10.1111/and.12679

It may also relieve menopausal symptoms and bone loss caused by estrogen deficiency.[15]Liu, H., Jin, W., Fu, C., Dai, P., Yu, Y., Huo, Q., & Yu, L. (2015, November) Discovering anti-osteoporosis constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii) by combined virtual screening and activity verification. Food Research International, 77(2), 215-220. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2015.06.028 Maca root may impose benefits on erectile dysfunction, too.[16]Kimura, M., Abdelhamed, A., Noguchi, T., Ashizawa, T., Hirano, H., Koyasu, H.,…& Horie, S. (2016, April). MP86-03 THE INFLUENCE OF MACA (LEPIDIUM MEYENII) ON THE GLUCOSE METABOLISM AND ERECTILE FUNCTION IN TYPE 1 DIABETIC RATS. Journal of Urology, 195(4), e1107. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2016.02.2311

Moreover, maca root may also have aphrodisiac properties. This may be beneficial in improving sexual health, sperm count, and motility.[17]Inoue, N., Farfan, C., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016, September 29). Effect of butanolic fraction of yellow and black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on the sperm count of adult mice. Andrologia, 48(8), 915-21. doi: 10.1111/and.12679

It may also relieve menopausal symptoms and bone loss caused by estrogen deficiency.[18]Liu, H., Jin, W., Fu, C., Dai, P., Yu, Y., Huo, Q., & Yu, L. (2015, November) Discovering anti-osteoporosis constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii) by combined virtual screening and activity verification. Food Research International, 77(2), 215-220. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2015.06.028

Maca root may impose benefits on erectile dysfunction, too.[19]Kimura, M., Abdelhamed, A., Noguchi, T., Ashizawa, T., Hirano, H., Koyasu, H.,…& Horie, S. (2016, April). MP86-03 THE INFLUENCE OF MACA (LEPIDIUM MEYENII) ON THE GLUCOSE METABOLISM AND ERECTILE FUNCTION IN TYPE 1 DIABETIC RATS. Journal of Urology, 195(4), e1107. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2016.02.2311

Maca may also work as an adaptogen. It is quite effective at preventing the development of different diseases. It may soothe stress, anxiety, and depression.

Maca may also help improve energy levels, endurance, and stamina. The herb has immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties.[20]Nuñez, D., Olavegoya, P., Gonzales, G. F., & Gonzales-Castañeda, C. (2017, December 1). Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands, Promotes Skin Wound Healing at Sea Level and at High Altitude in Adult Male Mice. High Altitude Medicine and Biology, 18(4):372-383. doi: 10.1089/ham.2017.0038

Health Benefits of Maca Root Extract

Maca Root
Maca gets a lot of praises for the health benefits associated with it. This is one of the many reasons for its rapid agricultural and commercial growth.

As a tradition, Junin natives consumed this herb and fed it to their animals for energy and fertility. Fast forward to today, several studies prove the benefits of maca beyond fertility.

The benefits of maca range from neuroprotective properties down to stress relief. Below are some of the most significant health benefits from maca supplementation.

Maca and Hormones

Hormone-regulating activities are part of the most renowned benefits of maca root extract. Several studies exist to prove this point.

One animal study examined the relationship between maca and hormones. It found that the herb plays a role in regulating follicle-stimulating hormones. These follicle-stimulating hormones include estrogen, progesterone, and luteinizing hormones.[21]Zhang, Y., Yu, L., Jin, W., & Ao, M. (2014, July 4). Effect of ethanolic extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp on serum hormone levels in ovariectomized rats. Indian journal of pharmacology, 46(4), 416-419. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.135955

Maca may also have the ability to improve estradiol levels and serum cholesterol. It may also improve triglycerides, high-density lipoproteins, and low-density lipoproteins.[22]Meissner, H. O., Reich-Bilinskia, H., Mscisz, A., & Kedzia, B. (2006, June). Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women – Clinical Pilot Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23674976

The benefits of the roots also extend to the regulation of endocrine and thyroid glands. Additionally, the adaptogenic properties of maca may regulate cortisol levels. This, as a result, may prevent health conditions caused by chronic stress.[23]Ai, Z., Cheng, A., Yu, Y., Yu, L., & Jin, W. (2014, May 1). Antidepressant-Like Behavioral, Anatomical, and Biochemical Effects of Petroleum Ether Extract from Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Mice Exposed to Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(5), 535-542. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.2950

To sum up, the hormonal benefits of maca is due to the amino acid content of the herb. And unlike other medications marketed to boost hormones, the herb doesn’t contain hormones. Instead, the herb helps the body in the most natural way: assisting in hormone production.

Maca and Weight Gain

Several maca users reported that the herb may aid a healthy and natural weight gain. Although, studies that back this claim are quite limited.

Maca may be essential for weight gain, under the right circumstances. For one, the herb may benefit lipid and glucose metabolism. It may regulate glycolysis and other metabolic disorders.[24]Wan, W., Li, H., Xiang, J., Yi, F., Xu, L., Jiang, B., & Xiao, P. (2018, April 6). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca Prevents Metabolism Disorder via Regulating the Glycolysis/Gluconeogenesis-TCA Cycle and PPARα Signaling Activation in Golden Hamsters Fed a High-Fat, High-Fructose Diet. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9, 333. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00333

In the long run, this may have a positive impact on muscle mass gains.

Maca is also known as an adaptogen. Meaning, it may support the body with enough energy, stamina, and endurance. This may lead to longer and more intense workouts, allowing for better muscle buildup.[25]Yang, Q., Jin, W., Lv, X., Dai, P., Ao, Y., Wu, M.,…& Yu, L. (2015, April 4). Effects of macamides on endurance capacity and anti-fatigue property in prolonged swimming mice. Pharmaceutical Biology, 54(5), 827-34. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036

This herb is also rich in proteins. Bodybuilders need at least 1g of protein per pound of body weight. And while it is more common for them to get their protein from meat, plant protein may also be the way to go.

An ounce of maca powder has about 3-4g of protein. Along with a proper diet, taking maca may help the chances of muscle gain. It may also encourage lean muscle growth and reduced body fat. And the perks? Maca protein is ideal for both vegan and non-vegan bodybuilders.

Maca for Energy and Stamina

Maca for Energy and Stamina
Maca has been found to have favorable effects on energy levels. It is reported that ancient Maca may also have favorable effects on energy levels. Back in the day, Incan warriors relied on this herb before heading to the battlefields. They believed that maca enhanced their strength.

Unlike stimulants such as caffeine, maca increases energy in a normal way. It doesn’t disrupt the normal activities of the adrenal gland. And since it is a known adaptogen, it also makes the body more resilient to stress.

Several studies checked the possible role of maca in energy and stamina. One of these was a study conducted on eight participants who cycle. The participants took maca extract for 14 days. After 14 days, their 40km cycling time improved.[26]Gonzales, G. F. (2011, October 2). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2012/193496

Maca for Stress

We deal with stress on a daily basis and maca may be one way out. The stress associated with our modern living may be too much to bear and it’s normal to search for remedies.

While it’s normal to feel stressed from time to time, it may be a problem when it becomes constant. This is where stress may become chronic.

Chronic stress may trigger several health conditions. Among these health conditions are the following:

  • Digestive tract issues
  • Constant headaches
  • Forgetfulness
  • Bad mood
  • Depression

In the long run, stress may also lead to life-threatening ailments such as:

  • Chronic depression stress. Additionally, the herb may work as an adaptogen that gives a calming and soothing effect on the body.[27]Qureshi, M., Mehjabeen, Noorjahan, Muhammad, S., Siddiqui, F. A., Baig, I., & Ahmad, M. (2017, January). Phytochemical and biological assessments on Lipidium meyenii (maca) and Epimedium sagittatum (horny goat weed). Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 30(1), 29-36. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28603109
  • Along with horny goat weed, the herb may be an effective remedy for stress and depression.[28]Gonzales-Arimborgo, C., Yupanqui, I., Montero, E., Alarcón-Yaquetto, D. E., Zevallos-Concha, A., Caballero, L.,…& Gonzales, G. F. (2016, August 18). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca(Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals, 9(3). doi: 10.3390/ph9030049

Maca as an Anxiety Remedy

Anxiety is a disorder characterized by having unpleasant emotions. It is also often accompanied by overreaction, nervousness, panic, and overwhelming fear.

Individuals who suffer from this disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Irrational fears
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue

Anxiety itself can progress to life-threatening health conditions if left untreated.

Maca is an all-natural option that may serve as a remedy to the symptoms of anxiety. A few studies have pointed out the possible efficacy of this herb on the said condition.

One study noted that maca may have soothing effects on anxiety. The same study also proved that the herb has diverse benefits.[29]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). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718534

Another reason why maca may be an effective anxiety relief is due to its adaptogenic properties. The herb helps improve focus and concentration while reducing tension and confusion.

The adaptogenic benefits of maca root may also improve mood. It may also help patients with anxiety to improve their sleep quality.[30]Gonzales-Arimborgo, C., Yupanqui, I., Montero, E., Alarcón-Yaquetto, D. E., Zevallos-Concha, A., Caballero, L.,…& Gonzales, G. F. (2016, August 18). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca(Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals, 9(3). doi: 10.3390/ph9030049

A trial conducted in 2014 found that maca may also reduce the levels of corticosterone. It may also lower dopamine and noradrenaline. All these hormones contribute to the stress levels of the body. And as we all know, chronic stress may lead to anxiety if left out of control.[31]Ai, Z., Cheng, A., Yu, Y., Yu, L., & Jin, W. (2014, May 1). Antidepressant-Like Behavioral, Anatomical, and Biochemical Effects of Petroleum Ether Extract from Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Mice Exposed to Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(5), 535-542. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.2950

Maca and Blood Pressure

About 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. That is about one in every three adults of the American population.[32]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n. d.). High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm

Maca may also regulate blood pressure. In a study on postmenopausal women, the participants took 3.3g of maca for 12 weeks. After the trial period, the study noted a change in diastolic blood pressure.[33]Stojanovska, L., Law, C., Lai, B., Chung, T., Nelson, K., Day, S.,… Haines, C. (2015, February). Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24931003

This effect of maca on blood pressure may be due to its ability high potassium content. Potassium itself is a micronutrient that may prevent hypertension.[34]Houston, M. C. (2011, August). The importance of potassium in managing hypertension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21403995

Although, there is a current lack of research on the exact mechanisms of maca on blood pressure.

Maca and the Immune System

Maca root is full of health benefits. Among these benefits are favorable to the immune system.

When the body’s immune system is weak, it becomes more susceptible to illnesses. Generally, this is the perfect timing for diseases to flock in the body.

This is where maca root may be beneficial. This herb is especially useful in supporting the normal functions of the body. Moreover, it may have the ability to boost the immune system itself.

Maca has been found to be beneficial in strengthening the immune system thus fortifying the body and preventing illnesses and the development of diseases.

Maca also contains a good amount of zinc, iron, and calcium. All these micronutrients are beneficial to the body. Additionally, they may alleviate symptoms of anemia and other blood-related health conditions.[35]Chen, L., Li, J., & Fan, L. (2017, March 14). The Nutritional Composition of Maca in Hypocotyls (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) Cultivated in Different Regions of China. Journal of Food Quality. doi: 10.1155/2017/3749627

These micronutrients may also aid in quicker oxygenation of tissues, hair growth, and even menopausal symptoms.[36]Meissner, H. O., Reich-Bilinskia, H., Mscisz, A., & Kedzia, B. (2006, June). Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women – Clinical Pilot Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23674976

The benefits of maca on the immune system may also be due to its polysaccharide content. These polysaccharides may have the ability to inhibit inflammations. The herb itself may also be ideal for hypo-immunity and tumor therapies.[37]Zhang, M., Wu, W., Ren, Y., Li, X., Tang, Y., Min, T.,…& Wu, H. (2017, January 24). Structural Characterization of a Novel Polysaccharide from Lepidium meyenii (Maca) and Analysis of Its Regulatory Function in Macrophage Polarization in Vitro. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(6), 1146-1157. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b05218

Maca and Osteoporosis and Bone Health

The skeletal system is a part of the body that also requires attention and care. Although, this aspect of our health is often overlooked.

Health conditions related to the bones like osteoporosis may affect one’s quality of living. Not only that, this disease can also be fatal and life-threatening if left untreated.

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and fragile bones. Having this ailment means that the bones are at a higher risk of breaking. Generally, this issue stems from the reduction of bone tissue and mass.

Bone health issues are more common in women than in men. The symptoms don’t show up until a fracture occurs. The hips, spine, and the wrists are among the bones that are most at risk of breakage.

Maca supplementation may be the key to avoiding osteoporosis. An animal study examined the possible relation of the herb when it comes to bone health.[38]Zhang, Y., Yu, L., Ao, M., & Jin, W. (2006, April 21). Effect of ethanol extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp. on osteoporosis in ovariectomized rat. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16466876

Extracts of both red and black maca may have protective effects on bone structure. This may impose the possibility of the herb providing treatment for women with osteoporosis.

Maca may also contain properties that support and improve bone health in general.[39]Liu, H., Jin, W., Fu, C., Dai, P., Yu, Y., Huo, Q., & Yu, L. (2015, November). Discovering anti-osteoporosis constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii) by combined virtual screening and activity verification. Food Research International, 7(2), 215-220. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2015.06.028

In the same animal study, a combination of red and black maca, along with estradiol reduced the effects of ovariectomy on the bones. Ovariectomy is a surgical procedure that may impose drastic effects on bone health.

Research also found that maca treatment may be beneficial in reversing the effects of ovariectomy. Maca may have mechanisms that work by increasing the trabeculae of the bones.

In the long run, maca may also be beneficial in preventing bone loss. The herb may also have effects on increasing bone density markers. It may also alleviate bone metabolism, especially in perimenopausal women.[40]Liu, H., Jin, W., Fu, C., Dai, P., Yu, Y., Huo, Q., & Yu, L. (2015, November). Discovering anti-osteoporosis constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii) by combined virtual screening and activity verification. Food Research International, 7(2), 215-220. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2015.06.028

Maca root is also a good source of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that helps in bone health. Calcium and estrogen, combined, may be effective remedies in preventing and [even] reversing osteoporosis.

Maca and Athletic Performance

Maca may also benefit athletes. This herb may impose positive benefits on enhancing athletic performance.

In recent years, some athletes and bodybuilders swear by maca supplementation. There are a couple of science-backed research that pointed out the possible benefits of maca on this aspect.

For instance, maca may be a powerful adaptogen. This helps reduce stress and increase both energy and stamina. These benefits of the herb may help in boosting athletic performance.[41]Yang, Q., Jin, W., Lv, X., Dai, P., Ao, Y., Wu, M.,…& Yu, L. (2015, April 4). Effects of macamides on endurance capacity and anti-fatigue property in prolonged swimming mice. Pharmaceutical Biology, 54(5), 827-34. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036

The adaptogenic benefits of maca also extend to increasing muscle size. It may also reduce fat mass. Both of these are essential factors for enhanced athletic performance. Additionally, the herb may improve the antioxidant activity of the muscle.[42]Yu, F. R., Yang, B., Li, Z. P., Lian, X. Z., Xie, M. R., Li, D. L., & Zhang, S. S. (2017). Effects of the maca extract on the ultrastructures of mitochondria in the spinal nerve cell and exercise endurance. Zhongguo Ying Yong Sheng Li Xue Za Zhi, 33(6), 535-538. doi: 10.12047/j.cjap.5601.2017.127

Furthermore, maca has been found to contain properties that may prevent and reduce inflammation in the body. This will go a long way to reduce recovery time after stressful workouts.

The herb also functions to improve sleep. When you sleep, the body strives to repair damaged tissues and replenish energy. This is the reason why you wake up every morning feeling stronger than the previous night.

Although, if you didn’t sleep well, you may not feel energetic and may wake up feeling awful. Maca improves sleep which is also beneficial for improved athletic performance.[43]Zeng, Y., Yang, J., Du, J., Pu, X., Yang, X., Yang, S., & Yang, T. (2014). Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Current Signal Transduction Therapy, 9(3), 148-155. doi: 10.2174/1574362410666150205165504

Maca for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition characterized by constant and long-term tiredness. It also limits the ability of an individual to carry on with his normal activities.

Maca may be able to help people who suffer from this condition. The herb may have anti-fatigue properties that can be beneficial in rejuvenating the adrenal glands. And as a result, this may assist in carrying out its normal functions.[44]Tang, W., Jin, L., Xie, L., Huang, J., Wang, N., Chu, B.,…& Zhang, Y. (2017, February 23). Structural Characterization and Antifatigue Effect In Vivo of Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp) Polysaccharide. Journal of Food Science, 82(3), 757-764. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13619

Additionally, maca contains polysaccharides that may have anti-fatigue properties.[45]Li, Y., Xin, Y., Xu, F., Zheng, M., Xi, X., Cui, X.,…& Han, C. (2018, August). Maca polysaccharides: Extraction optimization, structural features, and anti-fatigue activities. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 115, 618-624. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.04.063

These anti-fatigue activities may be due to the adaptogenic properties of the herb. As mentioned earlier, these adaptogenic effects of the herb help the body become more resilient to stress.

Moreover, maca may carry out functions that increase energy and endurance. This, in return, may help the body carry out with its day to day activities.

Using Maca for Mental Clarity

Improving mental clarity is among the many benefits of maca. This benefit of the herb may also be due to its adaptogenic properties.

Maa is also believed to have properties that soothe the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The herb may also have the ability to improve mood. It may have mechanisms that decrease tension and confusion.[46]Gonzales-Arimborgo, C., Yupanqui, I., Montero, E., Alarcón-Yaquetto, D. E., Zevallos-Concha, A., Caballero, L.,…& Gonzales, G. F. (2016, May 30). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca(Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals, 9(3), 49. doi: 10.3390/ph9030049

People who use maca reported that they encounter less foggy thoughts when taking the supplement. This may be due to the efficacy of the herb in improving the mood and calming the nervous system.

Maca for Memory and Cognition

Maca may also have beneficial effects on memory and cognition. Recent research found that the herb may work by slowing down age-related cognitive decline.[47]Guo, S. S., Gao, X. F., Gu, Y. R., Wan, Z. X., Lu, A. M., Qin, Z. H., & Luo, L. (2016, May 8). Preservation of Cognitive Function by Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Is Associated with Improvement of Mitochondrial Activity and Upregulation of Autophagy-Related Proteins in Middle-Aged Mouse Cortex.  Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2016/4394261

In an animal study involving middle-aged mice, the herb demonstrated positive effects in terms of memory and cognition. The study also found that the herb may contain properties that soothe the mitochondrial activities in the brain. In a deeper context, there was an increase in mitochondrial respiratory function along with the upregulation of autophagy-related proteins in the cerebral cortex.[48]Guo, S. S., Gao, X. F., Gu, Y. R., Wan, Z. X., Lu, A. M., Qin, Z. H., & Luo, L. (2016, May 8). Preservation of Cognitive Function by Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Is Associated with Improvement of Mitochondrial Activity and Upregulation of Autophagy-Related Proteins in Middle-Aged Mouse Cortex.  Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2016/4394261

Additionally, another study noted that the herb may go a long way in preventing the development of neurodegenerative diseases. This applies to the types that are often age-related.[49]Banjari, I., Marček, T., Tomić, S., & Waisundara, V. Y. (2018, October 30). Forestalling the Epidemics of Parkinson’s Disease Through Plant-Based Remedies. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5, 95. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00095

Maca may also benefit the memory.[50]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). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718534 An animal study currently exists to back this claim.

The animal study showed that black maca may affect learning and memory in positive ways. The mice exposed to ethanol (to induce memory impairment) were treated with black maca. At the end of the trial, the herb reversed the effects of ethanol.[51]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). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718534

In conclusion, black maca improved the experimental-induced memory impairment in an effective dose-response manner. This effect may be due to the polyphenolic compounds found in the herb.[52]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). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718534

Maca for Skin Protection

Maca may also impose benefits on the skin. Several studies pointed out that the herb may contain properties that keep the skin healthy.[53]He, J., Li, R., & Zhu, H. (2017). The effects of polysaccharides from Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) on exhaustive exercise-induced oxidative damage in rats. Biomedical Research. Retrieved from: https://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/the-effects-of-polysaccharides-from-maca-lepidium-meyenii-walp-on-exhaustive-exerciseinduced-oxidative-damage-in-rats.html

Maca may help prevent the development of sunburn cells and leukocytic infiltration. It may also keep the skin from acquiring epidermal hyperplasia and other ailments caused by UV radiation. These effects of the herb on skin health may be due to its high antioxidant properties.

Maca itself may even have the ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is a process wherein free radicals deplete the electrons from lipid cells, which eventually results in cell damage.[54]He, J., Li, R., & Zhu, H. (2017). The effects of polysaccharides from Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) on exhaustive exercise-induced oxidative damage in rats. Biomedical Research. Retrieved from: https://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/the-effects-of-polysaccharides-from-maca-lepidium-meyenii-walp-on-exhaustive-exerciseinduced-oxidative-damage-in-rats.html

Another study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences looked at the effects of maca on skin protection. The protecting effects of the herb may be due to its polyphenol content. These polyphenols may protect the skin from UV radiation and improve skin health.[55]Saric, S. & Sivamani, R. K. (2016, September 9). Polyphenols and Sunburn. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(9), 521. doi: 10.3390/ijms17091521

A similar study on the topic found that benzyl glucosinolates and polyphenols found in maca were beneficial in protecting the skin of rats from UV irradiations. Many people who use maca have also reported better skin tone.

The protective effects of maca also extend to aging. The herb may have properties that may reverse the physical symptoms caused by aging.[56]Hunt, K., Hung, S., & Ernst, E. (2010). Botanical Extracts as Anti-Aging Preparations for the Skin. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47814245_Botanical_Extracts_as_Anti-Aging_Preparations_for_the_Skin

Maca may also affect wound healing in positive ways. The herb may have properties that aid in speeding up the process of healing. An animal study exists to back this possible effect of the herb on wound healing.[57]Nunez, D., Olavegoya, P., Gonzales, G., & Gonzales-Castaneda, C. (2017, December 1). Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands, Promotes Skin Would Healing at Sea Level and at High Altitude in Adult Male Mice. High Altitude Medicine & Biology. doi: 10.1089/ham.2017.0038

Moreover, the wound healing properties of maca may be due to its hydroalcoholic extract content. The said content possesses antimicrobial properties. These antimicrobial properties may assist rapid wound closure.[58]Bramara, B., Vasavi, H., Sudeep, H., & Shyam Prasad, K. (2017. December). Hydroalcoholic extract from Lepidium meyenii (Black Maca) root exerts wound healing activity in Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Wound Medicine, 19, 75-81. doi: 10.1016/j.wndm.2017.10.003

Maca for Acne

Acne can be a very unpleasant skin condition. This alters the physical appearance of your face along with feeling discomfort due to the inflamed and broken skin.

And while acne can be embarrassing, there are a lot of remedies for this skin ailment. Among these remedies is maca.

Maca may be beneficial for treating acne. And although there aren’t enough scientific studies to back this claim, people who use the herb reported that it is effective in soothing the condition.

This effect of the herb on acne treatment may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties. As we all know, acne is a condition characterized by the inflammation and irritation of the skin.

Moreover, acne is often caused by hormonal imbalance. Maca may indirectly benefit this aspect as it is a known hormone stabilizer. The herb may impose benefits in regulating hormonal activities in the body.[59]Zhang, Y., Yu, L., Jin, W., & Ao, M. (2014, July 4). Effect of ethanolic extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp on serum hormone levels in ovariectomized rats. Indian journal of pharmacology, 46(4). doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.135955

Maca for Sexual Health

discuss sexual enhancement with your partnerSexual health improvement is among the most popular benefits of maca. Back in the day, the herb was popular as an aphrodisiac. It may also have the ability to enhance sexual performance and fertility.

In this modern day, researchers investigate the actual mechanism of the herb on sexual health. Below is a more in-depth look at the herb and its effect on sexuality and virility.

Maca and Sexual Virility

Maca is popular for its possible benefits of sexual virility, especially in men. Back in the day, many believed that the herb made the Inca warriors strong – both on the battlefield and in bed.

Many studies investigated the benefits of maca on sexual health and virility. And while these studies found that the herb is beneficial, they failed to determine the exact mechanism of the herb.

One study compiled all the trials conducted to test the efficacy of maca on sexual function. These trials came up with positive results and pointed out that the herb may have positive effects on sexual health. Although it noted that these studies are limited to draw a proper conclusion, thus suggesting that the herb may require more rigorous studies to confirm its exact mechanism.[60]Shin, B,, Lee, M., Yang, E., Lim, H., & Ernst, E. (2010, August 6). Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:  10.1186/1472-6882-10-44

Maca and Libido

Maca root extract may be the key in improving sex drive and increasing libido.[61]Crespo, A. O. O., Cedillo, A. X. O., Cedillo, P. O. O., & López, M. E. S. (2016, July 22).  Systematic Review On The Use Of Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) In Sexual Dysfunction. Pinnacle Medicine and Medical Sciences, 250, 1050-1056. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f150/36db1fe717ba337a59625e44c6be5b12602a.pdf It may also be helpful in increasing sexual desire.[62]Dording, C. M., Schettler, P. J., Dalton, E. D., Parkin, S. R., Walker, R. S., Fehling, K. B., Fava, M.,…& Mischoulon, D. (2015, March 23). A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015. doi: 10.1155/2015/949036

Several maca users reported increased sex drive while they took the herb. In fact, a study checked the effect of the herb on sexual function.

In the said study, women who suffer from antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction took maca extract to alleviate their condition. As a result, these women experienced elevated androgen levels. This increased their sex drive indirectly.[63]Dording, C. M., Schettler, P. J., Dalton, E. D., Parkin, S. R., Walker, R. S., Fehling, K. B., Fava, M.,…& Mischoulon, D. (2015, March 23). A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015. doi: 10.1155/2015/949036

That said, the effect of maca on sex drive and libido may be due to its ability to stimulate and regulate hormones.

Another published study pointed out the possible role of maca on sex drive. In the same trial, men aged 21 to 56 participated. One group of the participants took 1,500mg of maca extract, another took 3,000mg, and the rest took placebo.

At the end of the trial, research suggested that maca intake led to different levels of increase in sexual desire. Again, this effect may be due to the ability of the herb to regulate hormones, although its exact mechanism remains unclear.[64]Shin, B,, Lee, M., Yang, E., Lim, H., & Ernst, E. (2010, August 6). Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:  10.1186/1472-6882-10-44

Benefits of Maca for Men

fit-manMaca root extract is also popular in men. The main reason behind this is that the herb may impose benefits for the male population.

Maca is especially sought after for its touted benefits on male virility and vitality.

Maca for Sperm count and Fertility

Maca is an herb with a lot of health benefits. It may also be useful in terms of sexual health, especially male fertility.

This herb may be essential for increasing sperm count, motility and quality. It may have the ability to enhance that male aspect in as early as a day after consumption.[65]Del Prete, C., Tafuri, S., Ciani, F., Pasolini, M. P., Ciotola, F., Albarella, S.,…& Cocchia, N. (2018, January 22) Influences of dietary supplementation with Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on stallion sperm production and on preservation of sperm quality during storage at 5 °C. Andrology, 6(2), 351-361. doi: 10.1111/andr.12463

Maca may also be beneficial for improving sperm motility.[66]Aoki, Y.,  Tsujimura, A., Nagashima, Y., Ippei Hiramatsu Yuka Uesaka Taiji Nozaki Tatsuya Ogishima  Masato Shirai Yukihiro Shoyama Hiromitsu Tanaka Shigeo Horie (2018, October 24) Effect of Lepidium meyenii on in vitro fertilization via improvement in acrosome reaction and motility of mouse and human sperm. Reproductive Medicine and Biology. doi: 10.1002/rmb2.12251 Its benefits may also go beyond cases related to sperm count. A study published in 2016 pointed out that black maca may have positive effects on the concentration of sperm.[67]Inoue, N., Farfan, C., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016, September 29). Effect of butanolic fraction of yellow and black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on the sperm count of adult mice. Andrologia, 48(8). doi: 10.1111/and.12679

A recent animal study evaluated the effects of maca on fertility. The said study subjected 105 male mice to maca hypocotyls administration for three days. At the end of the trial, the study noted an increase in sperm count in the subjects.[68]Sanchez-Salazar, L. & Gonzales G. F. (2017, November 21). 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

Maca may also aid in increasing sperm count per ejaculum. A study conducted on nine men within the ages 24 to 44 years tested this effect of the herb. In the said study, the participants received 1,500mg or 3,000mg of the extract every day for four months. By the end of the trial, the subjects reported to have increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, and sperm motility.[69]Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Gonzales, C., Chung, A., Vega, K., & Villena, A. (2001, December). Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11753476

Moreover, the black variety of maca may impose benefits on reversing the effects of streptozotocin-induced diabetes on the liver and sperm count. This type of the herb may have better effects on increasing sperm count compared to other phenotypes.[70]Gonzales, G. F., Gonzales-Castaneda, C., & Gasco, M. (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. Retrieve d from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23489070

Apart from increasing sperm count, maca may also be beneficial in improving fertility in men. The herb may have positive impacts on testosterone levels. Again, this effect of the herb may be due to its hormone-regulating properties.[71]Ohta, Y., Yoshida, K., Kamiya, S., Kawate, N., Takahashi, M., Inaba, T.,…& Tamada, H. (2015, July 14) Feeding hydroalcoholic extract powder of Lepidium meyenii (maca) increases serum testosterone concentration and enhances steroidogenic ability of Leydig cells in male rats. Andrologia, 48(3). doi: 10.1111/and.12453

Maca and Prostate

The prostate is an important organ in males.  Prostate conditions such as prostatitis, enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer are more prevalent than we want them to be.

This year alone, more than 170,000 men suffer from prostate cancer. About 31,000 of those reported cases resulted in death.[72]American Cancer Sosciety. (n. d.). Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

Maca may be a superfood that can help prevent this male health condition.

An animal study published in 2017 looked at the possible effects of maca on the prostate. The trial concluded that the herb may prevent the increase of prostate weight on the subjects.[73]Zevallos-Concha, A., Nuñez, D., Gasco, M., Vasquez, C., Quispe, M., & Gonzales, G. F. (2015, December 2) Effect of gamma irradiation on phenol content, antioxidant activity and biological activity of black maca and red maca extracts (Lepidium meyenii walp). Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods, 26(1), 67-73. doi: 10.3109/15376516.2015.1090512

Another study checked the benefit of maca for the prostate. The trial noted that the herb may have positive impacts on the subjects diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia.[74]Fano, D., Vásquez-Velásquez, C., Gonzales-Castañeda, C., Guajardo-Correa, E., Orihuela, P. A., & Gonzales, G. F. (2017) N-Butanol and Aqueous Fractions of Red Maca Methanolic Extract Exerts Opposite Effects on Androgen and Oestrogens Receptors (Alpha and Beta) in Rats with Testosterone-Induced Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017:9124240. doi: 10.1155/2017/9124240 Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition identified as having enlarged prostate glands.

The latter relates to another study which showed that maca may be beneficial in reducing prostatic index and prostatic acid phosphatase in mice.[75]Zou, Y., Aboshora, W., Li, J., Xiao, T., & Zhang, L. (2017) Protective Effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Aqueous Extract and Lycopene on Testosterone Propionate‐Induced Prostatic Hyperplasia in Mice. Phytotherapy Research, 31(38):1192-1198. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5838 The trial also found that the red variety of maca may be more beneficial in terms of prostate-related conditions.

Maca and Testosterone

Maca is popular for its positive effects on male health and virility. Additionally, it may also impose benefits when it comes to testosterone levels.

The true and exact mechanism of maca remains unknown in terms of sexual health. But recent studies keep showing that the herb has positive impacts on the hormones in the body.

In detail, the herb functions without interfering with the hormones in the body. A study conducted on mice proved this point.

The study found that the herb presents a favorable androgenic effect on the subjects. And as a result, these androgenic effects boost testosterone levels.[76]Fano, D., Vásquez-Velásquez, C., Gonzales-Castañeda, C., Guajardo-Correa, E., Orihuela, P. A., & Gonzales, G. F. (2017, December 11) N-Butanol and Aqueous Fractions of Red Maca Methanolic Extract Exerts Opposite Effects on Androgen and Oestrogens Receptors (Alpha and Beta) in Rats with Testosterone-Induced Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2017/9124240

Another trial looked at the possible effects of maca on testosterone production. In the animal study, the subjects consumed the herb over the course of six weeks.

By the end of the trial, the subjects showcased an increase in serum testosterone levels. Changes are also noted in the weight of seminal vesicles and cytoplasmic area of Leydig cells.[77]Ohta, Y., Yoshida, K., Kamiya, S., Kawate, N., Takahashi, M., Inaba, T.,…& Tamada, H. (2015, July 14) Feeding hydroalcoholic extract powder of Lepidium meyenii (maca) increases serum testosterone concentration and enhances steroidogenic ability of Leydig cells in male rats. Andrologia, 48(30. doi: 10.1111/and.12453 Leydig cells assist in testosterone production.

In simpler words, the trial concluded that maca may increase serum testosterone production through stimulating Leydig cells.

Another animal study checked the benefits of maca on testosterone levels. The said study concluded that the herb may enhance the steroidogenic ability of Leydig cells. This effect of maca may lead to an increase in the production of blood testosterone concentration.[78]Yoshida, K., Ohta, Y., Kawate, N., Takahashi, M., Inaba, T., Hatoya, S.,..&. Tamada, H. (2017, March 10) Long-term feeding of hydroalcoholic extract powder of Lepidium meyenii (maca) enhances the steroidogenic ability of Leydig cells to alleviate its decline with ageing in male rats. Andrologia, 50(1). doi: 10.1111/and.1280

Moreover, maca root extract may have benefits in the luteinizing hormone. The luteinizing hormone plays a key role in testosterone production. In a pharmacological manner, this mechanism of maca may benefit the testosterone levels in indirect ways.[79]Uchiyama, F., Jikyo, T., Takeda, R., & Ogata, M. (2014, February 3) Lepidium meyenii (Maca) enhances the serum levels of luteinising hormone in female rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151(2), 897-902. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.058

Maca and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a male health condition that comes with aging. This is also a condition that can cause severe embarrassment to some.And while we can’t stop aging, there are several ways to delay its negative effects. And yes, that includes unfortunate instances wherein men find trouble in keeping an erection.

Maca is a super herb that may be the answer to this embarrassing condition. In fact, those who suffer from erectile dysfunction may find help from the herb.[80]Crespo, A. O. O., Cedillo, A. X. O., Cedillo, P. O. O.,  & López, M. E. S. (2016, July 22) Systematic Review On The Use Of Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) In Sexual Dysfunction [PDF file]. Pinnacle Medicine and Medical Sciences, 250, 1050-1056. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f150/36db1fe717ba337a59625e44c6be5b12602a.pdf

Several studies exist to back this claim. For instance, a study published by BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine concluded that the herb may have benefits in this manner.

At a closer look, research found that the herb may improve sexual function. 17 different studies pointed out this effect of maca on sexual health. These studies all imposed criteria that justified the possible role of the herb in terms of sexual function in both men and women.[81]Shin, B,, Lee, M., Yang, E., Lim, H., & Ernst, E. (2010, August 6). Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:  10.1186/1472-6882-10-44

Another study pinpointed the benefits of maca on erectile dysfunction. A group of researchers concluded that the herb is useful in improving erectile dysfunction in rats with type one diabetes.[82]Kimura, M., Abdelhamed, A., Noguchi, T., Ashizawa, T., Hirano, H., Koyasu, H.,…& Horie, S. (2016, April) MP86-03 THE INFLUENCE OF MACA (LEPIDIUM MEYENII) ON THE GLUCOSE METABOLISM AND ERECTILE FUNCTION IN TYPE 1 DIABETIC RATS. Journal of Urology, 195(4), e1107. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2016.02.2311

The exact mechanisms of maca on erectile dysfunction remains unclear. Although, these researches found that the herb may improve performance-related SAT-P scores in patients with ED. SAT-P scores are otherwise recognized as satisfaction profiles.

That said, the SAT-P scores are significant because these noted improvements in their conditions.

Moreover, maca may have positive impacts on sexual health. The herb may assist in boosting libido and other sexual functions. It may also have the ability to boost testosterone levels and regulate hormones. Indirectly, these factors may also help in aiding erectile dysfunction.

Benefits of Maca for Women

Benefits of Maca for WomenMaca is more popular with the men, but it can also impose positive benefits on women. Certain issues like menopause and other hormone-related disorders may find remedy from the herb.

Although the exact role of maca in these aspects needs more clinical trials, it’s safe to say that maca may also be good on women’s health.

Maca and Menopause

Menopause is an evitable condition that hits women at a later age. It may impose drastic symptoms that affect women not only in physical ways but mental as well.

Combating menopause and its symptoms can be stressful. But, the good news is, there are many natural options to treat this case. Maca supplementation is one of them.

As a matter of fact, this superfood may be useful in alleviating the symptoms that accompany the menopausal phase. The herb may act on the endocrine system and may result in the regulation of hormones. This is especially helpful as a known cause of menopause is due to the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the body.[83]Crespo, A. O. O., Cedillo, A. X. O., Cedillo, P. O. O., & López, M. E. S. (2016, July 22) Systematic Review On The Use Of Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) In Sexual Dysfunction [PDF file]. Pinnacle Medicine and Medical Sciences, 250, 1050-1056. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f150/36db1fe717ba337a59625e44c6be5b12602a.pdf

A 2017 study stated that maca may have favorable impacts on the body. This, as a result, may lead to a significant reduction of menopausal symptoms.[84]Sanchez, J. M. L., Serrano, A. Z., Duran, J. A., Morales, H. S. G., Alvarez, P. B. M., Mejia, R. M.,…& Huerta, E. P. R. (2017, June) Peruvian Maca and Possible Impact on Fertility [PDF file]. Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering, 6(5). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jose_Manuel_Lozano_Sanchez/publication/317569911_Peruvian_Maca_and_Possible_Impact_on_Fertility/links/59494b03aca272a30c6cae11/Peruvian-Maca-and-Possible-Impact-on-Fertility.pdf

Maca may also be beneficial in reducing diastolic blood pressure and the symptoms of depression. This claim roots from a trial conducted on Chinese postmenopausal women.

Maca was also found to be beneficial in reducing diastolic blood pressure and the symptoms of depression in Chinese postmenopausal women.[85]Stojanovska, L., Law, C., Lai, B., Chung, T., Nelson, K., Day, S.,…& Haines, C. (2014, June 16) Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric, 18(1), 69-78. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2014.929649

This herb is also a powerful adaptogen. It may have positive effects on improving mood and reducing tension. Additionally, maca may relieve the signs and symptoms of depression which relate to menopause. Moreover, this herb may aid menopausal women in sleeping better.

Another frowned side effect of menopause is decreased libido or sex drive. Maca root extract may also benefit women in this matter.

The herb itself may be beneficial in combating vaginal dryness that comes with menopause. This, in the long run, may improve a menopausal woman’s sex life and regulate hormones.

Maca and Menstrual Cycle

Different factors affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. These factors include stress, hormonal imbalance, health conditions, and medication side effects, among others.

Another notorious cause of menstrual cycle alterations may be due to poor nutritional absorption. When the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, the hormones in the body may fluctuate. This may eventually result in irregular or inconsistent menstrual patterns.

As mentioned above, maca is an herb that has many positive roles in the body. It may even be responsible in keeping hormones balanced.

A 2014 study by The Journal of Ethnopharmacology looked at the effects of maca on female rats. The study focused on the effect of the herb on serum levels of luteinizing hormones.

By the end of the trial, it concluded that maca may enhance these serum levels. The study also pointed out a surge in luteinizing hormone which may help regulate menstrual cycle and support fertility.[86]Uchiyama, F., Jikyo, T., Takeda, R., & Ogata, M. (2014, February 3) Lepidium meyenii (Maca) enhances the serum levels of luteinising hormone in female rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151(2), 897-902. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.058

Maca for Enhanced Curves

Women like to flaunt their curves, but not all are created the same. For those who are looking to get a little more curvy, then maca may be the answer.

The herb may have the ability to enhance the curves of the female body. Although there is no current scientific evidence to back this claim, many swear by it.

Bodybuilders are among those who testify by this benefit of the herb. They stated that they noticed better body shape and curve while taking maca. They also reported fuller-looking muscles.

Maca may have the mechanism to regulate hormones. This herb may also stimulate estrogen production. In the long run, this may be beneficial for enhancing the size and shape of the breasts.

As mentioned, there is no exact scientific evidence on this benefit of maca. That generally makes it difficult to pinpoint how the herb benefits the body in this matter.

Maca and Pregnancy

Maca root is popular for its effects on sexual health and fertility. Natives of Peru used this herb to boost their chances of conceiving.

Recent studies show that the herb is useful in increasing male virility by stimulating testosterone production. For women, maca works on regulating progesterone and estrogen.

These mechanisms of maca on hormone regulation are beneficial in regulating the menstrual cycle. This may help in increasing the chances of conception.

Although there is limited evidence to prove the effects of maca on fertility, many women swear by this herb. Many believe that the effects of the herb on fertility may be due to its hormone regulating mechanisms.

In detail, maca may balance out important hormones in the body. This prevents menstrual irregularities and hormonal imbalance. This effect of the herb may aid ovulation and increase the chances of pregnancy.

Maca may also increase one’s sex drive. And as we all know, sex is a big part of conception. The herb works by increasing sex drive and libido. It may also help reduce stress due to its adaptogenic properties. Combined, these allow for a calm and relaxed feeling in the body, making way for better conception.[87]Dording, C. M., Schettler, P. J., Dalton, E. D., Parkin, S. R., Walker, R. S., Fehling, K. B., Fava, M.,…& Mischoulon, D. (2015, March 23). A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 949036. doi: 10.1155/2015/949036

Maca and Hair Growth

Maca may also contribute to hair health. This herb may work to aid a better hair condition.

There are limited studies to back the exact benefits of maca, but many use the herb to assist the prevention of hair loss. Maca supplementation may also enhance hair growth, thus allowing the hair to grow faster and fuller.

The exact mechanisms of maca on hair growth and hair loss prevention are unknown. Although these claims may be due to the adaptogenic properties of the herb.

Stress is among the biggest culprits of hair loss. Maca may impose benefits indirectly because of its ability to soothe the condition.

Another benefit of maca for hair growth is that the herb balances out the levels of hormones in the body. This helps keep the levels of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in check. It is very well known that having high levels of DHT may trigger hair fall, and worse, hair loss.[88]Farris, P. K., Rogers, N., McMichael, A., & Kogan, S. (2017, November 1) A Novel Multi-Targeting Approach to Treating Hair Loss, Using Standardized Nutraceuticals. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 16(11), s141-s148. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29141069

Furthermore, maca may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Both of these may be beneficial for inhibiting free radicals that may cause hair loss and conditions like alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a condition wherein severe hair loss occurs and in large patches.

The herb may also extend its benefits to preventing oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is another factor that may contribute to the alteration of hair growth.

Maca and Estrogen

Estrogen is an important hormone in the female body. Imbalances that involve this hormone may lead to drastic symptoms and discomforts.

Maca is an herb that may be useful in regulating the levels of estrogen in the body.[89]Liu, H., Jin, W., Fu, C., Dai, P., Yu, Y., Huo, Q., & Yu, L. (2015) Discovering anti-osteoporosis constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii) by combined virtual screening and activity verification. Food Research International, 77(2), 215-220. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2015.06.028

An animal study took the effects of the herb on estrogen to test. It found that the ethanol extract of maca may increase estrogen levels. It was also concluded that long-term maca consumption may help regulate the endocrine hormones in the body.[90]Zhang, Y., Yu, L., Jin, W., & Ao, M. (2014). Effect of ethanolic extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp on serum hormone levels in ovariectomized rats. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 46(4):416-9. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.135955

A study on women also checked the effects of maca on menopause. The said study concluded that maca administration led to a significant increase in estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that usually fluctuates during the menopausal period.[91]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 root extract may also have benefits in alleviating the unpleasant symptoms associated with the menopausal phase. The herb works by increasing the levels of estrogen, progesterone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone.

Maca Side Effects

Maca supplements are available over-the-counter and don’t require a prescription. For this reason, many believe that the herb is safe for human consumption.

And while the latter may be true, the herb may still have some side effects. These side effects especially occur in individuals who don’t consume the herb in the right way. These are irrespective of the fact that the herb has been found to be non-toxic and safe when used over a long and short period of time.

Although there is no scientific evidence to back this claim, many users state that maca side effects links with the activity of the central nervous system. These side effects include, but are not limited to, headaches, mood swings, and insomnia. Some users also reported increased blood pressure, heartburn, indigestion, hot flashes, palpitations.

Precaution and Contraindication

Maca root may interact with certain health conditions and medications.

For one, it may interact with hypothyroidism. This is due to the function of the herb in increasing iodine in the body. This may cause an unhealthy level of the mineral in the long run.

Generally, high levels of iodine may lead to the development of certain health conditions. These health conditions include insulin sensitivity, thyroid enlargement, and kidney failure, among others.

Additionally, the glucosinolate found in maca may interact with a low-sodium diet, particularly those who suffer from a thyroid disorder. This may increase the risk of developing goiter.

Furthermore, people who are allergic to maca root may encounter different side effects. Allergic reactions, fatigue, and hives are among the most common reported side effects.

Maca may also stimulate the central nervous system. For this reason, people with hypertension should be more wary when taking the herb.

For safety purposes, it is best to consult with your physician first before you start using maca supplements.

How To Take Maca

How To Take Maca
There are several ways to take maca.

One traditional way to take the herb is through cooking it and consuming it as food. Its roots make an excellent addition to soups, jams, and other vegetable dishes.

Another way to take maca is by drinking it. In ancient times, people fermented the root to make chicha de maca. Chicha de maca is a weak beer that is brewed from the herb.

Maca root is also often turned into a supplement. Manufacturers take the extract of the roots and gelatinize them for easier absorption.

Below is a list of different forms of the herb:

  • Maca Extract
  • Maca Supplement
  • Maca Powder
  • Maca Tea
  • Maca Vitamins
  • Maca Drink
  • Maca Tincture
  • Maca Oil
  • Maca Coffee
  • Maca Pill
  • Maca Capsule

Maca Extract

The benefits of the maca lies in its hypocotyls. These hypocotyls contain all the nutrients of the herb.

To make it ready for consumption, these hypocotyls undergo extraction. They are then turned into a liquid or powder form. Today’s modern extraction methods ensure the safety and concentration of these hypocotyls.

Maca extract is often used in different ways: as a dietary supplement, drink, or even mixed in topical products.

Maca Supplement

Maca supplements are more common than any other forms. These supplements are often found in powder form or as capsules. These two types of the supplement make the extract a lot easier to consume.

In today’s modern technology, more and more breakthrough maca products are manufactured. This technology is something to take advantage of in terms of efficacy and potency.

Maca supplement may play a key role in filling in any nutritional gaps in one’s diet. The nutrients found in maca may assist in overall better health and wellbeing.

Moreover, based on several studies, maca supplement may aid in treating various chronic conditions.

Maca Powder

Maca powder is another common way to consume the herb. This form is manufactured by drying maca hypocotyls and then grinding them into a fine powder.

There are various uses for maca powder. It can be mixed with other spices and added to drinks and smoothies.

Maca powder may also be used as flour for baking.

Maca Tea

Maca may also be found in the form of tea. Its dried roots are packaged into tea bags.

Maca tea is often consumed the same way a regular tea is enjoyed. Although maca in the form of tea is not as potent as its other consumable forms.

Maca Vitamins

Maca is full of vitamins and minerals. Many manufacturers take advantage of this fact and turn the herb into a product that contains all of its vitamins.

Maca in the form of vitamins may fill in the nutritional gaps in one’s diet. Although, it is worth noting that this form only contains the vitamins and not the other active compounds found in the herb.

Maca Drink

Due to the nutritional benefits of the herb, many manufacturers in the herbal supplement industry also make maca drink. This type is generally marketed as a nutritional drink that can be taken on the go.

Maca drinks are also ideal for athletes who need energy boosts throughout the day. These drinks can be taken at any time, although precautions are always advised.

Maca drinks are forms of the herb that are not as potent as others. The concentration of the herb found in maca drinks is low. For this reason, maca drinks are not recommended in aiding chronic health conditions.

Maca Tincture

Maca root is tinctured to create a liquid extract of the herb. Most maca tincture manufacturers\- on the market use alcohol or vinegar extraction process. These methods ensure the maximum concentration of the active components of the herb.

This form of taking the herb is preferable to individuals who don’t like to take pills. Maca tincture is easy to use as all as it can be dropped to drinks, smoothies, water or under the tongue.

Maca Oil

Maca oil is another common form of benefiting from the active components of maca hypocotyls. However, most maca oil found on the market is mainly for external use only.

Maca oil aims to protect the body from the harmful effects of direct sunlight and soothe aging. It may also aid rapid wound healing on the skin.

Maca oil may also be used as a moisturizer. The herb itself promotes firming of the skin which may eliminate wrinkles and fine lines.

Maca Coffee

Maca also comes in the form of coffee. Its extracts are incorporated into coffee beans for enhanced benefits.

People who like coffee may get the benefits of maca while enjoying their favorite drink. This type also allows for easier and more convenient consumption.

But, do take note that the concentration of maca in drinks are lower compared to other forms. And due to its low potency, this form is not recommended in assisting the treatment of various chronic health conditions.

Maca Pill

Maca pill is another way to take the herb. This type is generally more potent than the drink form.

Maca pills are widely available in the market. However, this method of taking the herb may not be ideal for individuals who don’t like to take pills.

Maca Capsule

Another common way of taking maca is the capsule form. Manufacturers produce this type by encapsulating the powdered form of the extract into vegan capsules for easier ingestion.

Maca capsules are ideal for those who prefer to steer clear from mixing the powder into their food. This type also allows for easier consumption and storage.

Additionally, maca capsules come in controlled dosages. It makes it easier for an individual to track his exact maca consumption.

In terms of convenience and bioavailability, many maca consumers swear by its encapsulated form.

Maca Dosage

The current optimal dosage for maca consumption is unknown. Many believe that there is no exact recommended dosage for consumption. This is due to the fact that maca supplements are available over-the-counter and don’t require a prescription.

Maca is safe to use in small quantities, regardless of the period of time. Consumption of the extract in larger quantities may not exactly be as safe and ideal as the latter. For this reason, it is best to follow the dosage recommendations provided by the manufacturer.

Most manufacturers recommend taking one to two tablespoons of maca for the powdered form. When taking the supplement in pill and capsule forms, the recommended intake is from 500mg to 1,000mg twice a day.

The recommended dosage for 1:6 concentrated maca is two capsules in the morning and another two in the afternoon. Dosing varies from one individual to another, although intakes of more than eight capsules a day are not recommended.

The dosage rules are a little bit relaxed with the tinctured form of the herb. A few drops of this form of maca can be added to water, juices, and other drinks.

The exact dosage for the tea form is undetermined. This usually doesn’t call for any recommendations as this is a less potent form of maca.

Maca cycling is another way to even out the dosing of the herb. Some believe that it is necessary, while others don’t.

Unlike tongkat ali and ashwagandha, the body doesn’t become dependent on maca overtime, so cycling may be unnecessary. Additionally, maca contains adaptogenic properties and it is best consumed in a continuous manner.

Gelatinized Maca Extract vs. Raw Maca Extract

Maca supplements come in different selections. It has two types: raw and gelatinized.

Most people find it confusing to choose the right maca supplement. And while these supplements provide the same benefits, getting the right type allows for its benefits to be maximized.

The difference between the two lies in the process of manufacturing.

Raw Maca Extract

For one, raw maca root extracts are the type manufactured without going through a heating process that exceeds 40 degrees Celsius. In fact, most raw maca extracts don’t pass through any heating at all.

This kind of process allows a better retention of the active compounds found in maca. Additionally, the sugar and starch content of the hypocotyls remain intact. For this reason, this is the type of extract that may be ideal for bodybuilders and athletes, as it provides more energy.

Raw maca root extract may also assist better in reducing recovery time and fatigue. It also works better on increasing lean muscle mass.

Raw maca may also contain more glucosinolates compared to its gelatinized counterpart. Glucosinolates are the major drivers behind the health benefits of the extract.[92]Meissner, H. O., Mscisz, A., Baraniak, M., Piatkowska, E., Pisulewski, P., Mrozikiewicz, M., & Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T. (2017). Peruvian Maca (Lepidium peruvianum) – III: The Effects of Cultivation Altitude on Phytochemical and Genetic Differences in the Four Prime Maca Phenotypes. International Journal of Biomedical Science, 13(2):58-73. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28824342 These compounds may also be especially helpful in serious health conditions like cancer.[93]Novio, S., Cartea, M. E., & Soengas, P. (2016, May 12). Effects of Brassicaceae Isothiocyanates on Prostate Cancer. Molecules, 21(5), 626. doi: 10.3390/molecules21050626

The only downside of raw maca root extract is its association with indigestion. Consuming this type of maca may cause problems with digestion and cause bloating. This is especially important to note for individuals who happen to have sensitive stomachs.

Moreover, glucosinolates taken in high amounts may be toxic and harmful to the health.

Gelatinized Maca Root Extract

Gelatinized maca root extract contains lower amounts of glucosinolates compared to its raw counterpart. This may be due to the fact that this type of extract passed through a heating process of about 100 degrees Celsius.

Reports are also noted that glucosinolates begin to go down within a few minutes of heating. By the time it hits a couple of hours, only about 5% of the compound will be present in the extract.

Although gelatinization reduces glucosinolates, the right process may increase its bioavailability.

Gelatinization reduces the glucosinolates of the herb, but it also removes its excessive and resistant starch content. This essentially makes it easier to absorb and utilize.

Unlike raw maca root extract, gelatinized maca is more preferred by the body due to its quick bioavailability. It also doesn’t cause bloating, indigestion, and other digestion-related issues.

What Color of Maca Root is Best For Your Condition

types of macaMaca roots vary in colors. This is due to its hypocotyl contents which generally affect its aesthetics.

The roots may range from white to yellow, light pink to dark purple, and light to dark gray. Red, black, yellow, and purple maca are also among the most common.[94]Meissner, H. O., Mscisz, A., Baraniak, M., Piatkowska, E., Pisulewski, P., Mrozikiewicz, M., & Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T. (2017). Peruvian Maca (Lepidium peruvianum) – III: The Effects of Cultivation Altitude on Phytochemical and Genetic Differences in the Four Prime Maca Phenotypes. International Journal of Biomedical Science, 13(2):58-73. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28824342

These colors are not just mere aesthetics. They all differ in terms of taste but also have distinct benefits to offer.

Yellow Maca

yellow macaYellow maca is often classified to be the same as the “cream” colored maca. This phenotype is liked by many due to its light, tangy taste. Its taste is one of the many reasons why this extract is often added to drinks, smoothies, and even salad dressings.

The yellow maca hypocotyl is renown for its distinct effects on fertility and virility. Both men and women reported to gain benefits in that aspect of their health by consuming yellow maca extracts.[95]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

Yellow maca may also have significant effects on enhancing the mood. This color may even have the ability to regulate body temperature.

A study published by the International Journal of Dermatology confirmed that the yellow variety may also protect the skin. The study found that yellow maca root may keep the skin safe from the harmful UV rays of the sun.[96]Rubio, J., Qiong, W., Liu, X., Jiang, Z., Dang, H., Chen, L., & Gonzales, G. F. (2008 September, 11). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Memory Impairment Induced by Ovariectomy in Mice. doi: /10.1093/ecam/nen063

Yellow maca is also great for boosting energy levels. This type is also a good adaptogen, which may help with hormones and fertility. Many reported that this variety of maca aided their sexual health in various ways.

Yellow maca may also increase stamina. It may even contain enough amino acids that are essential for muscle building. This herb may also control blood glucose and keep them at appropriate levels.[97]Inoue, N., Farfan, C., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016, September 29).  Effect of butanolic fraction of yellow and black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on the sperm count of adult mice. doi: 10.1111/and.12679

Black Maca

black macaBlack maca is the most popular yet rarest color of the herb. It has phenotypes that are just different from the rest of its counterparts.[98]Sun, Y., Dai, C., Shi, S., Zheng, Y., Wei, W., & Cai, D. (2018). Composition analysis and antioxidant activity of essential oils, lipids and polysaccharides in different phenotypes of Lepidium meyenii. Journal of chromatography, 1099:25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2018.09.010

Black maca gets a lot of praises for its benefits of improving libido. It may also impose benefits on sperm production and quality.[99]Inoue, N., Farfan, C., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016). Effect of the butanolic fraction of yellow and black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on the sperm count of adult mice. Andrologia, 48(8):915-21. doi: 10.1111/and.12679

Black maca is also favored for its distinct flavor profile. Many described the taste of this herb as something similar to that of roasted soybeans.

When consumed, black maca may work as a natural antidepressant. This is due to the adaptogenic properties of the herb.[100]Stojanovska, L., Law, C., Lai, B., Chung, T., Nelson, K., Day, S., … Haines, C. (2015). Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric, 18(1):69-78. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2014.929649

It may also combat stress and relieve fatigue. Black maca may also have positive impacts on memory and learning ability.[101]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

Moreover, black maca may improve focus and concentration skills of an individual.[102]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

The benefits of this black variety of the herb may also include increased strength and bone density. It may also assist in keeping the immune system tight. This variety of the herb is also popular for its ability to prevent common infections, such as colds, and flu.[103]Zhang M1, Wu W1, Ren Y2, Li X1, Tang Y1, Min T1, … Wu H1. (2017). Structural Characterization of a Novel Polysaccharide from Lepidium meyenii (Maca) and Analysis of Its Regulatory Function in Macrophage Polarization in Vitro. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(6):1146-1157. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b05218

Red Maca

red macaThe red maca is the rarest and most unique variety of the maca root. It has a distinct malty taste. Aesthetic-wise, it almost looks like a combination of beet and purple cabbage.

Red maca contains the most amount of amino acids among all other varieties. This makes this type especially good for the body.

The phytochemical analysis of red maca also declares that this variety has the highest peak values of nutrients.

Red maca may also aid in treating prostate cancer. In an animal research done by the Journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, this variety may have the ability to decrease the size of the ventral prostate in the subjects.[104]Gonzales, G. F., Miranda, S., Nieto, J., Fernandez, G., Yucra, S., Rubio, P.,… & Gasco, M. (2005, January 20). Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats. Retrieved from https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1477-7827-3-5

Another benefit of red maca may include strong protective effects on the structure of bones and bone density. Moreover, its benefits are distinct and won’t be found in any other varieties of maca. [105]Meissner, H. O., Mscisz, A., Mrozikiewicz, M., Baraniak, M., Mielcarek, S., Kedzia, B., … Pisulewski, P. (2015). Peruvian Maca (Lepidium peruvianum): (I) Phytochemical and Genetic Differences in Three MacaPhenotypes. International Journal of Biomedical Science, 11(3):131-45. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26508907

Why You Should Insist On Peruvian Maca

Maca is native to the high Andes mountains of Peru but is present to a lesser extent in Brazil and Bolivia. The climate and soil of Peru contribute a lot to the benefits and nutritional density of the plant.

Peruvian maca root is also known as maca Peruana. It is exclusively cultivated at an altitude of 4,000-4,500m. It is not sure whether or not herbs that are grown outside Peru will contain the same compounds and nutrients.[106]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 is also grown and exported from the Yunnan province in China. The herb thrives well in the area since it has high mountains with an elevation of more than 14,000m.

Chinese farmers may have imported maca seeds from Peru but there is a huge difference. There are distinct contrasts between the maca grown in Peru and the ones grown in China.

As we already know, Chinese farmers cultivate and export different types of superfoods such as herbs like tongkat ali, rice protein, goji berries, and grass powders, among others. However, it has been found that these products have a high risk of contamination by heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and tungsten and other pollutants.

China has been rated as one of the most polluted nations in the world.[107]Natural News Site (2014, May 1). BREAKTHROUGH: Chinese government admits one-fifth of farm lands heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic and lead. Retrieved on December 7, 2018 from https://www.naturalnews.com/044950_China_heavy_metals_soils_contamination.html About 19.4 percent of farmlands in China is polluted with heavy metals, as provided by a statement released by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.[108]Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China Site (n.d). Retrieved on December 7, 2018 from http://www.mee.gov.cn/2018tz/mep_index.html

About 82.8 percent of non-organic products in the country exceeds the heavy metal limits set by the government. More than 60% of groundwater in China is also not safe to drink. This is due to a high level of contamination. According to a report by BBC, about 20% of farmlands in China are contaminated.[109]The BBC Site (2014, April 18). Report: One fifth of China’s soil contaminated. Retrieved on December 7, 2018 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-270766

Maca is widely grown in the Yunnan province of China. The same province also happens to be one of the most populated places in the country.

The area is also reported to be polluted by chromium. Worse, it even serves as their country’s chromium dump.

To be specific, the Yunnan province where maca is currently grown in large quantities is one of the most populated places in China. It is reported that the province is heavily polluted by chromium. Its environment has served as a chromium dump for a while now.[110]China Dialogue Site (2011, August 30). On Yunnan’s chromium trail. Retrieved on December 7, 2018 from https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/449

Also, 70% of water in the province does not meet the quality standards set by the government.[111]PLOS Blogs Site (2011, April 4). Meeting rural water and sanitation needs in Yunnan, China. Retrieved on December 7, 2018 from https://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2011/04/04/meeting-rural-water-and-sanitation-needs-in-yunnan-china/

Moreover, a recent report states that China is now manufacturing synthetic maca hypocotyls. They are even supplying it to the market as authentic maca roots.[112]The Maca Team Site (n.d.). Peruvian Maca Root Powder vs. Chinese Maca. Retrieved on December 7, 2018 from https://www.themacateam.com/peruvian-maca-root-powder-vs-chinese-maca

The mere thought of it is nauseating. One’s health and safety should always be a priority. And this only adds up to the many reasons to avoid anything synthetic.

Exporting whole maca roots or seeds from Peru is illegal. Based on the information provided by a documentary, the roots cultivated in China are smuggled from Peru.

For these reasons, insist on buying only Peruvian maca extract. It may be a little difficult where a maca supplement originates from, but know that sincere manufacturers will state it on the label.

And if they fail to do so, avoid these products and find a better alternative.

Where to Buy Maca Extract?

This brings us down to the final question: where to buy maca extract?

Maca root extract is growing at a rapid pace in terms of popularity and usage. For these reasons alone, it may not be difficult to find genuine and concentrated maca supplements.

However, consumers should always be extra careful when buying supplements. With the current hype on maca supplementation, counterfeits and fakes are also scattered in the market.

Additionally, it is easy to attach the name of the herb in supplements that had little concentration of the extract. Again, that’s something to be aware about.

To be safe, buy maca supplements only from registered and legitimate pharmaceutical stores. However, the prices may vary because of these stores. Some may be higher than others, and may not be as concentrated. The main reason behind this is because these stores pay an overhead cost so they can sell these supplements.

Another option to consider are traditional herbal supplement stores. These shops are home to many herbal supplements, and maca extract is no stranger to this. Although, the prices may be the same as other pharmaceutical stores due to the overhead costs.

One downlow of buying from third-party sellers is that consumers are unsure of the quality.  For this reason, it is best to opt for purchasing online, straight from the herbal supplement manufacturer’s website.

Buying straight from the manufacturer ensures you not only of the legitimacy of the product but as well as its quality. Moreover, you are sure that you are paying only for the cost of the product and nothing else.

Best Maca is Gelatinized Black Maca Root Extract 6:1

Many maca users complain that they used the herb without any significant benefits. This is probably due to the fact that the product they had was not concentrated and potent enough.

There are varying concentrations of maca extract on the market. The top two most sought-after ratios are the 4:1 and 6:1 extracts.

The 4:1 ratio means that four grams of maca root extract are present in the final product. The 6:1 ratio outnumbers the latter by two grams, making it the highest concentration of maca extract available in the market.

Herbolab’s maca is made only of all-natural, pure 6:1 gelatinized black Peruvian maca root extract. It is certified organic and free from chemical additives.

Moreover, Herbolab’s maca underwent a unique patented gelatinization at low temperatures. This ensures that the formula is easy to digest and process in the body.

And unlike other manufacturers, Herbolab fully discloses the content of the supplement. That’s right, the company offers nothing but pure transparency, no fillers, no extenders, and no proprietary blends.

References   [ + ]

Fran Sanchez, BSc MSc

About Fran Sanchez, BSc MSc

Fran Sanchez, the founder of Herbolab, graduated from Uppsala University (Sweden) with a master in molecular biology and Karolinska University (Sweden) with a degree in medical sciences and business. He then moved to Singapore to run e-commerce operations in a pharmaceutical company, until eventually, he could fulfill his dream of creating a brand dedicated to help men reach their peak performance. Drawing on his experience as a lifelong multi-sport athlete and cutting edge medical and scientific research, Fran launched herbolab tongkat ali as flagship supplement in April of 2014. Fran now spend most of his time weight lifting and creating content dedicated to improve people’s lives.

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