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“Maca (Lepidium meyenii)is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru for at least 3000 years. It is a relative of the radish and has an odour similar to butterscotch. The root (or tuber) is the part of the plant ingested for health benefits, and is thought to contain 31 different minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, protein and fibre!  It also contains 60 different phytonutrients. Traditionally the Peruvians take Maca root to promote fertility, sexual virility, energy and vitality.

Stamina and sports performance

The main ingredients and naturally occurring substances in Maca are becoming widely used by today’s amateur and professional athletes alike. It is suggested that one of the main actions of this powerful superfood is to strengthen endurance and energy levels, which may give the athlete a natural advantage.*

Hormonal System Tonic

Maca is thought to nourish the hypothalamus which regulates the pituitary gland, therefore acting as a tonic for the hormone system. The pituitary gland controls the secretion of hormones from the sex organs (ovaries and uterus in  women and testes and prostate in men), the thyroid and the adrenals.  When the pituitary gland is behaving optimally, the entire endocrine should become balanced.

So it should follow that in women, Maca helps the body to promote balanced oestrogen and progesterone levels. Oestrogen or progesterone levels that are high or low at the wrong time of the menstrual cycle can hinder a woman conceiving or put her a greater risk of miscarriage.

Taking Maca may help to balance the oestrogen to progesterone ratio which is essential to achieving and carrying a healthy pregnancy. In one study, Maca was given to female and male rats and it was found that the females had multiple egg follicle maturation (important for ovulation), and the males had significantly higher sperm production and motility rates. Maca is also thought to have adaptogenic properties which further aid the endocrine system by supporting the adrenal glands in times of stress – both physical (illness) and mental (pressure of life/work).

Sex drive and male fertility

Culturally, the ancient Peruvians took this powerful root to boost the potency of the male libido. Its natural properties help to create an aphrodisiac-like response in men who have suffered from impotency, low sex-drive, and fertility problems. Maca root is thought to improve the quality and quantity of sperm in men who have lower than normal sperm counts. A small study of 9 men who were given Maca for 4 months at 1,500 – 3,000 mg a day, showed the men experienced an increase in libido, sperm count, motility of sperm, increased DHEA levels, decreased anxiety and stress, lowered blood pressure, balanced iron levels and an increase in adrenal androgens.

Menopause

Over time, other uses for Maca have also shown promising benefits to health such as relief of fatigue and the reduction of menopausal symptoms in women. One of the most troublesome symptoms of menopause is hot flushes. The active ingredients in theMmaca root appear to lessen the severity and frequency of hot flushes that occur due to hormonal changes in a woman’s body as they reach this stage in life. Maca root may help to aid the body’s natural hormone balance without the use of synthetic hormone replacements that are typical treatments for menopausal symptoms.  Several studies also demonstrate the potential for a reduction in anxiety and depression in menopausal and post menopausal women.

*Because Maca is energy stimulating it is best not to take it after 3pm to avoid any issues falling asleep!”

References:
  • Meissner, H. O., Kapczynski, W., Mscisz, A., & Lutomski, J. (2005). Use of gelatinized maca (lepidium peruvianum) in early postmenopausal women. I​nternational journal of biomedical science: IJBS,​1​(​1), 33. Retrieved online from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/
  • ­ Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Gonzales, C., Chung, A., Vega, K., & Villena, A. (2001). Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. A​sian Journal of Andrology,​3​(​4), 301­304.
  • ­ Ostrowski­Meissner, H., Kapczyński, W., Mścisz, A., & Lutomski, J. (2003). An attempt to use Maca (Lepidium peruvianum) in postmenopausal women. P​ostępy Fitoterapii.​Retrieved online from: http://www.czytelniamedyczna.pl/2515,proba­zastosowania­maca­lepidium­peruvianum­u­kobiet­w­okresie­ wczesnej­postmeno.html
  • ­ Muller V. Maca in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Whole World Botanicals Report; 1­7
  • ­ Muller V. (2002). South American Herb Maca as Alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy.
  • Whole World Botanicals Report; 11.
  • ­ Walker M. (1998). Effect of Peruvian Maca on Hormonal Functions.​Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients;​11: 18.
  • ­ Cicero, A. F. G., Piacente, S., Plaza, A., Sala, E., Arletti, R., & Pizza, C. (2002). Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia,​3​4(​3), 177­179.
  • ­ Gonzales, G. F., Ruiz, A., Gonzales, C., Villegas, L., & Cordova, A. (2001). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) roots on spermatogenesis of male rats. A​sian J Androl,​3(3), 231­3.
  • ­ Cicero, A. F., Bandieri, E., & Arletti, R. (2001). Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity. J​ournal of Ethnopharmacology,​7​5(​2), 225­229.
  • ­ Li, G., Ammermann, U., & Quirós, C. F. (2001). Glucosinolate contents in maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) seeds, sprouts, mature plants and several derived commercial products. E​conomic botany,​5​5(​2), 255­262.
  • ­ Dini, A., Migliuolo, G., Rastrelli, L., Saturnino, P., & Schettino, O. (1994). Chemical composition of Lepidium meyenii. F​ood chemistry,​4​9(​4), 347­349.
  • ­ Fahey, J. W., Zalcmann, A. T., & Talalay, P. (2001). The chemical diversity and distribution of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates among plants. P​hytochemistry,​5​6(​1), 5­51.
  • ­ Ganzera, M., Zhao, J., Muhammad, I., & Khan, I. A. (2002). Chemical profiling and standardization of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography. C​hemical and pharmaceutical bulletin,​5​0(​7), 988­991.
  • ­ Sandovala, M., Okuhamaa, N. N., Angelesa, F. M., Melchora, V. V., Condezob, L. A., Laob, J., & Millera, M. J. (2002). Antioxidant activity of the cruciferous vegetable Maca (Lepidium meyenyii). F​ood Chemistry​, 79(​207), 17.
  • ­Clément, Céline; Diaz Grados; Diego A.; Bharathi A.; Khan I. A.; Mayer A. C.; Ponce A.; Dante D.; Manrique I.; Kreuzer M. (2010). Influence of colour type and previous cultivation on secondary metabolites in hypocotyls and leaves of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walpers). J​ournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 90 (5): 861–869.