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Have you heard about maca? You may have seen it trending on social media lately, and for good reason: it has incredible benefits for your energy, sexual health, and overall well-being.
Although it has exploded in popularity in recent years, maca has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. In this blog, we’ll go over what it is, what the benefits are, and what to look for in a supplement.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable native to the Peruvian Andes, where it grows at an altitude of 4,000+ metres. It has been used in herbal medicine for centuries as a nourishing food and an energizing tonic. Although maca is sometimes called Peruvian ginseng, it is not related to ginseng grown in North America and Asia. Instead, maca is a cruciferous superfood from the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Maca has been shown to improve libido, sexual desire, and arousal in both men and women.
In men, it can also increase low levels of sex hormones (such as testosterone) that decline with age. Sexual desire is one of the biggest benefits of maca in men. One study showed that sexual desire increased in men ages 21–56 after taking maca for eight weeks.
In women, maca can also support a healthy mood balance during menopause. In one study, women ages 41–50 saw their menopause symptoms improve after two months of taking maca. Their hot flashes were reduced, and they experienced less interruption in sleep and more balanced hormone levels. Maca has also been shown to improve sexual function in women after menopause.
Maca is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body adapt to both physical and mental stress. It can also help increase resistance to stress and anxiety in people who experience chronic stress and can help improve their overall quality of life. One interesting study examined the impact of 2000 mg per day of maca on endurance performance as well as sexual desire in male cyclists. After 14 days, the participants taking maca showed a significant improvement in endurance and speed.
Maca is a source of antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radicals. An overabundance of free radicals is implicated in many health conditions, and antioxidants can help support overall health.
Maca can generally be found in powder or capsule form. When it comes to choosing the right supplement for you, here are some tips:
Always choose organic maca as it is free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Organic Peruvian maca is of the highest quality, and sustainable harvesting practices help ensure that maca is available for years to come.
Gelatinized maca has been gently cooked with most of the starch removed, which contributes to a more potent product compared with maca that has only been dried and ground.
Maca has been used safely for centuries, and there have been no reported adverse effects associated with taking maca. Although there are no documented interactions with maca and medications, you should consult with a physician before taking maca if you’re taking antidepressants or blood thinners.
Also consult with a physician if any of the following apply:
pregnant or breastfeeding
high blood pressure
anxiety, depression, or other psychological disorders
hypoactive sexual disorder, sexual dysfunction or erectile dysfunction
Maca has been used for centuries to support sexual wellness for both men and women, as well as increased endurance. Additionally, maca can help protect your health through antioxidant support. If you’re looking to improve your sexual health, energy, and antioxidants, consider including maca in your daily supplement routine.
Maxine Fidler, ND
Maxine Fidler is a licensed naturopathic doctor who loves to write about natural health.
Gonzales GF. Ethnobiology and ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2012; ID193496.
Gonzales GF, Córdova A, Vega K, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002;34(6):367-372.
Meissner HO, Reich-Bilinska H, Mscisz A, et al. Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women - Clinical Pilot Study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(2):143-159.
Brooks NA, Wilcox G, Walker KZ, et al. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause. 2008;15(6):1157-1162.
Stone, M., Ibarra, A., Roller, M., et al. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009:126(3):574-576.
Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, et al. 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 (Basel). 2016;9(3):49. Published 2016 Aug 18.