What is maca?

The aerial part of maca has 12 to 20 leaves and the foliage forms a mat-like, sneaking system of stems that grows close to the soil. The underground part of the plant, referred to as the hypocotyl, is a storage organ and is the part that is used commercially. The hypocotyl can be a range of colors, such as red, purple, cream, yellow, or black, and is 10 to 14 cm long and 3 to 5 cm broad; a cold environment seems to be critical for its formation or growth. Maca is cultivated in a narrow, high-altitude zone of the andes mountains in peru. Maca has one of the greatest frost tolerances of any cultivated plant, permitting it to grow at elevations of 3,800 to 4,800 m above sea level in the puna and suni ecosystems, where only alpine yards and bitter potatoes can survive. Maca and several associated wild species likewise are discovered in the bolivian andes. While typically cultivated as a vegetable crop, usage for its medical residential or commercial properties has actually become more prominent in peru.

Taxonomic name( s)

Lepidium meyenii walp. Household: brassicaceae (mustards).

Typical name( s)

Maca also is referred to as peruvian ginseng, maino, ayuk willku, and ayak chichira. [1]


Maca, likewise called ginseng andin, peruvian ginseng, lepidium meyenii, or lepidium peruvianum, is a relative of radish and smells comparable to butterscotch.

Maca is a plant that grows on the high plateaus of the andes mountains. It’s been cultivated as a root veggie for at least 3000 years. The root is likewise used to make medicine, however there isn’t sufficient trustworthy information offered to understand how maca might work.

People take maca by mouth for male infertility, health issue after menopause, increasing sexual desire in healthy people, and other functions, however there is no good scientific proof to support any of these uses. [2]

History and tradition

Maca has actually been cultivated in the peruvian central andes, in the former chinchaycocha (plateau of bombón); contemporary: carhuamayo, junin, and óndores in the junin plateau near cerro de pasco. Maca was most likely domesticated in san blas, junin (present day: ondores) some 1,300– 2,000 years earlier.

The very first composed description about maca (as a root without recognition of the botanical or popular name) was published in 1553, in which cieza de leon, a chronicler of the spaniard conquest of perunoted that in the peruvian highlands, particularly in the province of bombón (chinchaycocha; present day: junin) the natives used particular roots for upkeep. The roots, he was referring to were maca.

Daddy cobo was the first to describe the name of maca and its properties in 1653. He specified that this plant grows in the harshest and coldest areas of the province of chinchaycocha where no other plant for guy’s nourishment could be grown. Cobo also described using maca for fertility. In the 18th century, ruiz referred to the fertility-enhancing properties of maca and also its stimulant result. I believe stimulant result could be associated with energizer impact or an effect on state of mind or wellness.

Typically, after being gathered maca is dried naturally and can hence be kept for several years. The dried hypocotyls are hard as stone. After being naturally dried maca hypocotyls can be consuming. Prior to consumed, the hypocotyls need to be boiled in water to obtain a soft item which can be taken in as juice, the most frequent kind of use.

The boiling process seems to increase active metabolites. In fact, increased temperature impacts the schedule of several secondary metabolites in plants sometimes increasing some metabolites and in others a reduction in metabolites is observed. In maca, one of the crucial constituents is glucosinolates. These substances are sensitive to heating. Other metabolites, however, are increased after heating. For example, heating decreases the activity of epithiospecifier protein and increases development of sulforaphane, a derivative of isothiocyanates and glucosinolates, in broccoli.

After 2, 15, and 30 min of heating at 88 ° c, the vitamin c material of raw tomato drops considerably. Yet, the material of translycopene per gram of tomato boosts. Furthermore, antioxidant activity likewise increases after heating tomatoes.


Maca is identified by an overground and an underground part. The overground part is little and flat in appearance. This seems to be the result of an adaptation process to prevent the impact of strong winds. The underground part is the hypocotyl-root axis.

The principal and the edible part of the plant is a radish-like tuber that makes up the hypocotyl and the root of the plant. This hypocotyl-root axis is 10– 14 cm long and 3– 5 cm broad and makes up the storage organ saving a high content of water. After natural drying, the hypocotyls are dramatically decreased in size to about 2– 8 cm in size. The average weight of the dried hypocotyls may differ substantially. For instance, in our experience, we found a variety of weight in between 7.64 and 23.88 g in the peruvian main andes.

There are lots of kinds of maca that can be characterized by the color of their hypocotyls. In carhuamayo, junin, in the peruvian highlands, 13 colors of maca have actually been described, varying from white to black. Just recently, it has been shown that different types of maca (according to its color) have various biological properties. [3]

Uses & & effectiveness Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for …

Sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressant drugs. Early research suggests that taking maca two times daily for 12 weeks slightly improves sexual dysfunction in women taking antidepressants.

Male infertility early research reveals that taking a particular maca product (maca gelatinizada la molina, labs hersil, lima, peru) daily for 4 months increases semen and sperm count in healthy males. But it’s not clear if this leads to enhanced fertility.

Postmenopausal conditions. Research study recommends that taking maca (maca powder healthychoices, murwillumbah, nsw, australia) daily for 6 weeks slightly improves high blood pressure and some aspects of mood, consisting of depression and stress and anxiety, in postmenopausal women. However benefits are very little.

Sexual desire. Early research study shows that taking a specific maca item (maca gelatinizada la molina, labs hersil, lima, peru) daily for 12 weeks can increase sexual desire in healthy guys.

  • Exhausted blood (anemia).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (cfs).
  • Improving energy and athletic efficiency.
  • Improving memory.
  • Female hormonal agent imbalance.
  • Menstrual issues.
  • Symptoms of menopause.
  • Stomach cancer.
  • Improving the immune system.
  • Hiv/aids.
  • Other conditions. [4]

Benefits of maca root

Helps the body handle stress

Maca is an adaptogenic herb, and something all adaptogens share is that they can help the body manage environmental stress, discusses dr. Shah. “adaptogens have long been used in ayurvedic and traditional chinese medicine, but they’re experiencing a renaissance [in the west],” she says.

What adaptogens might do (maca consisted of) is help stimulate the body’s stress defense system by stabilizing the body’s hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (hpa) axis, according to dr. Shah. The hpa axis is accountable for how the central nervous system and hormone systems respond to tension. When we feel stressed out, cortisol levels go up. But scientific research studies on rats reveal consuming maca can assist keep cortisol levels from rising.

May assist with anxiety

A 2014 research study of mice found a link between consuming maca for six weeks and increased dopamine levels, leading to minimized feelings of anxiety. Registered naturopathic physician cassie wilder, n.d., says this connection is likely due to maca’s adaptogenic nature. “when people are more resilient to tension and are much better able to manage everyday stressors, their state of mind improves,” she states. So if you’re constantly seeming like you’re “on edge,” routinely consuming maca could possibly assist– although more human research studies require to be done to confirm the connection in between maca and state of mind.

Might lead to increased energy

One typical reason individuals consume maca is for a caffeine-free energy increase. “while scientific research studies have not been able to reveal exactly how maca enhances energy in the body, it does seem to have energy-producing impacts in some individuals,” states dr. Koffler.

While more clinical studies require to be carried out to validate this connection, a little study of 175 individuals suggests a connection in between maca and energy. In the study, individuals who took 3 grams of maca for 12 weeks reported experiencing more of an energy increase than individuals who didn’t consume maca. Because of this response, if you’re sensitive to herbs, it’s best to take in maca earlier in the day.

There are likely a couple of different factors regarding why we do not know precisely how maca affects energy levels in the body, states integrative medication physician siri chand khalsa, m.d. “there is so much that’s linked to how energized we feel; it’s not just something,” she says, adding that it’s really difficult to identify one herb to energy since numerous other way of life elements also play a role.

May aid with signs of perimenopause and menopause

Dr. Wilder recommends maca frequently to ladies in perimenopause or menopause. “what clinical literature programs is that maca supports the body throughout this phase of life without changing estrogen levels,” she says.

While more research study is required, a little study discovered menopausal women who took in maca knowledgeable less hot flashes and night sweats than they did when not consuming it.

Advantages your bones

The same research study that revealed a connection between maca and lowered menopause symptoms also exposed that individuals had increased bone density after consuming maca. Another study– this one in rats– likewise discovered a connection between maca and strong bones. In the paper, the research study authors state it’s likely because maca includes polyunsaturated fatty acids, a nutrient important for bone health.

” maca assists make bones harder,” explains dr. Wilder, including that this trait is especially notable because females lose bone density as they age. “this is not to say that maca can be consumed in place of vitamin d or calcium– which are essential for bone health– but there is still a connection there.”.

May boost libido

All 4 professionals state enhancing sex drive is among maca’s most popular residential or commercial properties, a connection established by various clinical studies. “maca has actually been stated to have aphrodisiac properties and, again, this is without altering hormonal agent levels,” says dr. Wilder, adding that this reaction could be associated with maca’s link to decreasing stress, helping with state of mind and a subtle energy increase.

Might help with male fertility

Here’s a maca advantage specifically for guys: dr. Koffler says consuming maca is connected to producing a greater sperm count. “guys are constantly producing new sperm, so this is particularly noteworthy in terms of fertility,” she says. Contributing to this significance is the fact that infertility cases stem just as much from male infertility problems as they do from females infertility concerns. [5]

May help relieve symptoms of menopause

Menopause happens naturally in people who menstruate. It’s the time of life when menstrual periods stop permanently.

The natural decrease in estrogen that takes place throughout this time can trigger a range of symptoms, some of which individuals might discover unpleasant. These include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, state of mind swings, sleep problems, and irritability.

Some research studies recommend that maca might benefit individuals who are going through menopause by helping alleviate some symptoms, consisting of hot flashes and disrupted sleep.

A 2011 evaluation that consisted of 4 high quality research studies discovered some evidence that maca treatment has beneficial results on menopause signs.

Other possible health advantages

Human research study examining the potential health benefits of maca is restricted.

However, preliminary findings from animal research studies recommend maca may impact health in the following ways:.

May help preserve cognitive function.

rodent research studies have shown that maca assists enhance cognitive function and motor coordination and might assist slow age-related cognitive decline.

May benefit benign prostatic hyperplasia (bph).

Findings from animal research studies recommend that maca might help in reducing inflammatory proteins and hinder bph or augmentation of the prostate.

May advantage skin health.

Maca has actually been shown to accelerate wound healing, and an older research study found that it safeguarded versus uv damage when applied to the skin of animals. Efficiency of maca for dealing with menopause symptoms. [6]

Is it safe?

When taken by mouth: maca is most likely safe for many people when eaten in foods. Maca is perhaps safe when taken in larger amounts as medicine, short-term. Doses up to 3 grams daily appear to be safe when taken for as much as 4 months.

Special precautions & & cautions:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: there isn’t adequate trusted info to know if maca is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Remain on the safe side and adhere to food quantities.

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: extracts from maca may imitate estrogen. If you have any condition that might be worsened by estrogen, do not utilize these extracts. [7]

Possible negative effects

Little is known about the security and risks of short-term or long-lasting use of maca. Given that it is a natural food, it is typically thought to be safe in big doses.

Maca’s effect on hormonal agent levels is inadequately understood. For example, some studies have found no effect on sex hormonal agents, while animal research studies have reported higher levels of luteinizing hormone, progesterone, and testosterone.

Because of these possible hormonal effects, if you have among the following conditions, you must not take maca without consulting your doctor:.

  • Breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Thyroid disease
  • As with lots of other supplements, maca hasn’t been checked for safety in pregnant people, nursing mothers, kids, those with medical conditions, or those who are taking medications.
  • Maca soft gels
  • Verywell/ anastasia tretiak


Maca is readily available commercially in several dose forms including powder, liquid, tablets, and pills. A lot of industrial website suggest an everyday dosage of 1 dried maca extract 450 mg capsule 3 times everyday taken orally with food.

A little research study (n= 16) reported a dose-dependent result, with 1,500 mg maca daily ineffective, however 3,000 mg maca daily as effective in ssri-associated sexual dysfunction in men.

Dosages of 3.5 g maca daily for 6 weeks have been used in postmenopausal women.

Pregnancy/ lactation

Prevent usage during pregnancy and lactation due to lack of security and effectiveness data.


None well documented.

Adverse reactions

There is no evidence of adverse responses to maca. Maca has been reported to have a low degree of intense oral toxicity in animals and low cellular toxicity in vitro.


No negative responses were reported in an animal research study with rats fed maca extract in doses up to 5 g/kg, equivalent to a consumption of 770 g of hypocotyls in a 70 kg man.

The presence of significant quantities of a heart glycoside in the associated species, l. Apetalum18 is cause for issue. Cardioactive compounds have likewise been found in l. Sativum.48 however, dried maca roots have actually been taken in for many years without reports of cardiotoxicity. Lepidium virginicum was inactive in a screen for genotoxicity. [10]

What are the negative effects of taking maca?

Documented side effects of maca consist of transformed menstruations, modified mood, cramping, difficulty sleeping, and stomach irritation. However, these side effects are not well documented. One case of prolonged menstrual bleeding has actually been reported in a female discovered to have raised testosterone levels following supplementation with maca. The woman had actually been taking one teaspoon of maca powder dissolved in milk everyday to enhance energy levels and sex drive. Bleeding surpassed cessation of maca supplementation.

Does maca interact with any other drugs?

Currently, maca is not known to have any interaction with medications.

Extra factors to consider:

Taking maca might affect specific lab test results. Testosterone lab outcomes might not be accurate following supplementation with maca. Make certain your doctor knows you are taking maca prior to checking these laboratory tests. [11]

Maca root: are there any preventative measures?

Here at vegkitchen, we’re big fans of maca root, and want to ensure to cover all our bases. Maca, a root that belongs to the radish household, is most frequently offered in powder type and considered a superfood instead of a supplement. Learn more about the advantages of maca, and get even more info by exploring our frequently asked questions about maca root.

In its long history of use, maca has revealed no adverse effects or toxicity, nor have actually there been cases of overdose. Maca’s basic security has been verified by the national institute of health in a study. You can learn more about the topic at the maca group.

Similar to all good ideas, maca should be utilized in moderation, balanced with other healthy foods. For instance, it’s terrific in quinoa-maca breakfast bowls.

General precautions

Indigestion: some maca users have reported stomach upset, heartburn, and indigestion, though this isn’t a common incident. Though undesirable, these results aren’t damaging and will pass. If maca disagrees with you to such an extent, listen to your body and do not utilize it! There are other superfoods to check out, for instance, hempseed, which might be more acceptable to you.

Thyroid problems: raw maca consists of iodine and other goitrogens, which can aggravate the thyroid. Maca identified “gelatinized” (more about that later) has been prepared, which alleviates those compounds. If you have thyroid concerns, you need to seek advice from a registered diet professional before utilizing maca. Standard mds are less likely to be knowledgeable about it.

Jitters: if you’re just starting to utilize it, or use excessive at once for your body weight, maca can make you feel jittery or wired, nearly like caffeine may (though maca doesn’t contain caffeine). given that maca is energizing, this is quite possible. If this happens, merely minimize the amount you’re taking.

Insomnia: as with jitters, it is essential to remember that maca is stimulating. If you discover it hinders sleep, take it early in the day.

Maca powder and root.

Pregnancy and lactation

Here’s an area where there’s debate benefits and drawback, and the authors and factors to this book aren’t in a position to decide. Go over the matter with your practitioner if you’re pregnant or lactating, and wish to start or continue taking maca. Little official research has actually been done on the security of taking maca during pregnancy.

Some healthcare experts think it’s safe to take throughout the whole pregnancy, while others point out the possible threats of picking to do so.

On the pro side are those who feel that due to the fact that maca has no side effects, it might be a great natural option to prenatal vitamins, and can help stabilize the hormonal agents, particularly throughout the very first trimester.

Other professionals fret that maca may raise testosterone levels in the expectant mom to a degree that’s not preferable. In many cases, herbs and other foods like maca that have near-pharmaceutical qualities aren’t recommended during pregnancy and lactation.

Bottom line: err on the side of care, and speak with your professional and/or registered diet professional before making a decision. [12]


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