Maca Benefits

Maca
Latin Name

Lepidium meyenii

Also Known As

Maca-Maca, Maino, Ayak Chichira and Ayak Willku

Origin

South America

Parts Used

Root

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Native to the Andes mountain range, Maca has long been used by the indigenous peoples of this region to promote sexual function and fertility. The Incans used Maca in many of their natural remedies, specifically to enhance energy, increase stamina, endurance and strength. It is also known as Peruvian Ginseng due to its stimulating qualities.

Maca Benefits

Endocrine Health

Maca is also known as “food for your endocrine glands”. The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones responsible for regulating metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, mood and response to stress and/or injury. A powerful adaptogen, these qualities are due to glucosinolates, plant alkaloids within Maca root which help your endocrine system do its job – especially during sub-optimal conditions, for example when you are stressed or anxious. The role of Maca in the endocrine system is that it stimulates the pituitary gland and when this gland is performing optimally, the entire endocrine system becomes balanced.

Sexual Health

Subsequent Maca benefits all seem to stem from the fact that it primarily balances the endocrine system. It is a particularly potent aphrodisiac – the ancient Peruvians ingested this powerful root to boost the potency of the male libido. A great fertility booster, studies have shown that in men it can improve sperm quality, motility and volume. Glucosinolates, the plant alkaloids mentioned above, can also positively affect fertility for both men and women. These alkaloids are responsible for Maca’s ability to support hormonal balance. This balancing effect also controls oestrogen levels in the body, increasing reproductive health and decreasing symptoms of PMS, PCOS and the menopause.

Anxiety & Stress

In our fast paced hectic lives, stress can be unavoidable. One of the symptoms of stress can be “adrenal fatigue” – the way Maca can help this condition is by harnessing its adaptogenic qualities to regulate the hormones that are produced by this gland. An adaptogen will only go where it is needed, if your body is overproducing a hormone, it regulates it back to normal and if your body under-produces a hormone, it helps raise the level until it is balanced. For this reason it is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal to combat excessive stress and anxiety.

Energy & Mood Booster

Due to its rich nutritional content and adaptogenic qualities, Maca will naturally have a positive effect on energy, stamina and mood. A nutritional powerhouse, Maca is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – especially B Vitamins which are renowned for their brain boosting qualities. This dense nutrition is also responsible for its ability to boost energy levels in a sustained and balanced way.

Typical Use

1 -2 teaspoons per day is recommended. Add to smoothies, milk, fruit juice or water. Alternatively sprinkle on porridge, cereal, or soup.

Folklore and History

According to folklore, ancient Incan warriors took maca before going off to battle to make them physically strong. However, they were later prohibited from taking it, in order to protect conquered women from their heightened libidos. Maca is a popular integral part of the Peruvian way of life. It is a root vegetable that looks a bit like a turnip and is used in soups, cakes, breads and drinks in Peru. It is grown high in the Andes at 14,000 ft in very rich soils. Maca is very effective in pulling minerals from the soil, making its mineral content especially high.

Maca
Constituents

Amino acids: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Glycine, Hydroxyproline, Isoleucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Praline, Serine, Threonine, Tyrosine, Valine. Minerals: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Manganese, Iodine. Vitamins: C, B2, B3, B6

Precautions

Based on the amount of iodine in Maca it is highly unlikely that taking Maca alone will contribute to the formation of a goiter. However, Maca is also a cruciferous vegetable high in glucosinolates.Glucosinolates are sulfur containing compounds that help in reducing the carcinogenic effects of a number of environmental toxins alongside many other health gains. Eaten as a part of a balanced diet, Maca and other cruciferous vegetables may have excellent health benefits. But some research has shown that when eaten in extremely high amounts - 1.5kg - 2 kg per day - cruciferous vegetables may contribute to hypothyroidism.