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The aerial part of maca has 12 to 20 leaves and the foliage forms a mat-like, sneaking system of stems that grows near the soil. The underground portion of the plant, called 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 large; a cold environment appears 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 altitudes of 3,800 to 4,800 m above water level in the puna and suni environments, where only alpine yards and bitter potatoes can make it through. Maca and numerous related wild types likewise are discovered in the bolivian andes. While typically cultivated as a vegetable crop, usage for its medicinal properties has actually ended up being more popular in peru.

Scientific name( s)

Lepidium meyenii walp. Family: brassicaceae (mustards).

Typical name( s)

Maca likewise is called peruvian ginseng, maino, ayuk willku, and ayak chichira. [1]


Maca, also 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 a minimum of 3000 years. The root is likewise used to make medication, however there isn’t sufficient dependable details offered to know how maca may work.

People take maca by mouth for male infertility, illness after menopause, increasing sexual desire in healthy individuals, and other functions, however there is no good clinical evidence to support any of these uses. [2]

History and custom

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

The very first written description about maca (as a root without recognition of the botanical or popular name) was released 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 utilized specific roots for upkeep. The roots, he was describing were maca.

Father cobo was the first to explain the name of maca and its residential or commercial 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 sustenance could be grown. Cobo also described using maca for fertility. In the 18th century, ruiz described the fertility-enhancing residential or commercial properties of maca and likewise its stimulant result. I think stimulant effect could be associated with energizer impact or an impact on mood or well-being.

Generally, after being gathered maca is dried naturally and can therefore be kept for several years. The dried hypocotyls are hard as stone. After being naturally dried maca hypocotyls can be eating. Prior to consumed, the hypocotyls need to be boiled in water to acquire a soft product which can be consumed as juice, the most frequent kind of use.

The boiling procedure seems to increase active metabolites. In fact, increased temperature level impacts the availability of numerous secondary metabolites in plants often increasing some metabolites and in others a decrease in metabolites is observed. In maca, among the important constituents is glucosinolates. These substances are sensitive to heating. Other metabolites, nevertheless, are increased after heating. For instance, 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 content of raw tomato drops substantially. Yet, the material of translycopene per gram of tomato boosts. Furthermore, antioxidant activity also increases after warming tomatoes.


Maca is characterized by an overground and an underground part. The overground part is small and flat in appearance. This seems to be the result of an adaptation process to prevent the effect 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 constitutes the hypocotyl and the root of the plant. This hypocotyl-root axis is 10– 14 cm long and 3– 5 cm wide and constitutes the storage organ storing a high material of water. After natural drying, the hypocotyls are dramatically decreased in size to about 2– 8 cm in size. The typical weight of the dried hypocotyls may differ significantly. For instance, in our experience, we found a range of weight between 7.64 and 23.88 g in the peruvian main andes.

There are numerous types of maca that can be characterized by the color of their hypocotyls. In carhuamayo, junin, in the peruvian highlands, 13 colors of maca have been explained, varying from white to black. Recently, it has been demonstrated that various kinds of maca (according to its color) have different biological residential or commercial properties. [3]

Uses & effectiveness

Inadequate evidence to rate efficiency for …

Sexual dysfunction brought on by antidepressant drugs. Early research study suggests that taking maca two times daily for 12 weeks slightly enhances sexual dysfunction in ladies taking antidepressants.

Male infertility early research study shows that taking a particular maca item (maca gelatinizada la molina, labs hersil, lima, peru) daily for 4 months increases semen and sperm count in healthy males. But it’s unclear if this results in improved fertility.

Postmenopausal conditions. Research study recommends that taking maca (maca powder healthychoices, murwillumbah, nsw, australia) daily for 6 weeks somewhat improves high blood pressure and some elements of state of mind, including depression and stress and anxiety, in postmenopausal ladies. But benefits are really small.

Sexual desire. Early research study reveals that taking a particular maca item (maca gelatinizada la molina, laboratories hersil, lima, peru) daily for 12 weeks can increase libido in healthy men.

  • Worn out blood (anemia).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (cfs).
  • Improving energy and athletic performance.
  • Improving memory.
  • Female hormone imbalance.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Symptoms of menopause.
  • Stomach cancer.
  • Improving the immune system.
  • Hiv/aids.
  • Other conditions. [4]

Advantages of maca root

Assists the body handle stress

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

What adaptogens might do (maca included) is help promote the body’s stress security system by stabilizing the body’s hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (hpa) axis, according to dr. Shah. The hpa axis is responsible for how the main nerve system and hormonal agent systems respond to tension. When we feel stressed, cortisol levels increase. But clinical research studies on rats show consuming maca can assist keep cortisol levels from increasing.

May assist with depression

A 2014 research study of mice found a link in between consuming maca for six weeks and increased dopamine levels, causing minimized sensations of anxiety. Registered naturopathic doctor cassie wilder, n.d., says this connection is likely due to maca’s adaptogenic nature. “when individuals are more resistant to stress and are much better able to deal with daily stressors, their mood improves,” she says. So if you’re continuously feeling like you’re “on edge,” regularly consuming maca could potentially assist– although more human research studies need to be done to confirm the connection in between maca and mood.

Might cause increased energy

One common factor people consume maca is for a caffeine-free energy increase. “while clinical research studies haven’t had the ability to show exactly how maca increases energy in the body, it does appear to have energy-producing effects in some individuals,” says dr. Koffler.

While more scientific research studies need to be conducted to confirm this connection, a small study of 175 people indicates a connection between maca and energy. In the study, individuals who took 3 grams of maca for 12 weeks reported experiencing more of an energy boost than individuals who didn’t consume maca. Because of this action, if you’re sensitive to herbs, it’s best to consume maca previously in the day.

There are likely a few various factors regarding why we don’t know exactly how maca affects energy levels in the body, states integrative medication physician siri chand khalsa, m.d. “there is so much that’s connected to how stimulated we feel; it’s not simply one thing,” she says, including that it’s extremely hard to determine one herb to energy considering that a lot of other lifestyle factors likewise contribute.

May assist with signs of perimenopause and menopause

Dr. Wilder recommends maca frequently to women in perimenopause or menopause. “what clinical literature shows is that maca supports the body throughout this stage of life without altering estrogen levels,” she states.

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

Benefits your bones

The same study that showed a connection between maca and lowered menopause symptoms also revealed that participants had actually increased bone density after taking in maca. Another study– this one in rats– likewise found a connection between maca and strong bones. In the paper, the research study authors state it’s likely because maca consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids, a nutrient essential for bone health.

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

May increase sex drive

All 4 professionals say improving libido is one of maca’s most well-known homes, a connection developed by numerous clinical research studies. “maca has been stated to have aphrodisiac residential or commercial properties and, once again, this lacks altering hormone levels,” states dr. Wilder, adding that this reaction could be connected to maca’s link to reducing tension, helping with mood and a subtle energy boost.

Might assist with male fertility

Here’s a maca benefit particularly for guys: dr. Koffler says consuming maca is linked to producing a greater sperm count. “men are continuously producing new sperm, so this is especially notable in regards to fertility,” she says. Adding to this value is the truth that infertility cases stem just as much from male infertility problems as they do from ladies infertility issues. [5]

May aid relieve signs of menopause

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

The natural decline in estrogen that occurs throughout this time can trigger a series of signs, some of which people may find unpleasant. These consist of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, state of mind swings, sleep problems, and irritation.

Some research studies suggest that maca may benefit people who are going through menopause by assisting ease some symptoms, consisting of hot flashes and interrupted sleep.

A 2011 evaluation that included 4 high quality studies found some proof that maca treatment has beneficial effects on menopause symptoms.

Other potential health benefits

Human research study investigating the potential health advantages of maca is limited.

However, preliminary findings from animal studies suggest maca may affect health in the following ways:.

May help maintain cognitive function.

rodent studies have shown that maca helps enhance cognitive function and motor coordination and might assist slow age-related cognitive decrease.

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 protected against uv damage when applied to the skin of animals. Effectiveness of maca for dealing with menopause symptoms. [6]

Is it safe?

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

Unique safety measures & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: there isn’t enough dependable details to know if maca is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay 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 might imitate estrogen. If you have any condition that might be intensified by estrogen, do not utilize these extracts. [7]

Possible negative effects

Little is known about the security and threats of short-term or long-lasting use of maca. Because it is a healthy food, it is usually thought to be safe in large doses.

Maca’s result on hormonal agent levels is improperly comprehended. For example, some research studies have discovered no impact on sex hormones, while animal research studies have actually reported greater levels of luteinizing hormonal agent, progesterone, and testosterone.

Because of these possible hormone results, 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
  • Similar to lots of other supplements, maca hasn’t been checked for security in pregnant individuals, nursing moms, children, those with medical conditions, or those who are taking medications.
  • Maca soft gels
  • Verywell/ anastasia tretiak


Maca is offered commercially in a number of dose types consisting of powder, liquid, tablets, and capsules. A lot of business web sites recommend a daily dose of 1 dried maca extract 450 mg capsule 3 times daily taken orally with food.

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

Doses of 3.5 g maca daily for 6 weeks have actually been utilized in postmenopausal ladies.

Pregnancy/ lactation

Prevent usage during pregnancy and lactation due to absence of safety and effectiveness data.


None well recorded.

Unfavorable reactions

There is no evidence of adverse reactions to maca. Maca has actually been reported to have a low degree of acute 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, comparable to a consumption of 770 g of hypocotyls in a 70 kg guy.

The presence of significant amounts of a cardiac glycoside in the associated types, l. Apetalum18 is cause for issue. Cardioactive compounds have actually also been discovered in l. Sativum.48 however, dried maca roots have actually been consumed for several years without reports of cardiotoxicity. Lepidium virginicum was inactive in a screen for genotoxicity. [10]

What are the side effects of taking maca?

Documented adverse effects of maca consist of altered menstruations, modified mood, cramping, problem sleeping, and stomach irritation. Nevertheless, these adverse effects are not well documented. One case of extended menstrual bleeding has been reported in a female found to have raised testosterone levels following supplementation with maca. The woman had actually been taking one teaspoon of maca powder liquified in milk day-to-day to enhance energy levels and sex drive. Bleeding surpassed cessation of maca supplements.

Does maca communicate with any other drugs?

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

Extra considerations:

Taking maca may impact particular laboratory test results. Testosterone lab results may not be precise following supplementation with maca. Make sure your healthcare provider knows you are taking maca prior to inspecting these lab tests. [11]

Maca root: exist any safety measures?

Here at vegkitchen, we’re big fans of maca root, and want to make sure to cover all our bases. Maca, a root that belongs to the radish family, is most frequently readily available 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 shown no adverse side effects or toxicity, nor have there been cases of overdose. Maca’s general security has been validated by the national institute of health in a study. You can find out more about the topic at the maca team.

Just like all advantages, maca should be utilized in small amounts, balanced with other natural foods. For example, it’s excellent in quinoa-maca breakfast bowls.

General preventative measures

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

Thyroid problems: raw maca includes iodine and other goitrogens, which can aggravate the thyroid. Maca identified “gelatinized” (more about that later) has been prepared, which mitigates those substances. If you have thyroid concerns, you ought to consult a signed up diet professional prior to using maca. Traditional mds are less most likely to be familiar with it.

Jitters: if you’re just beginning to use it, or utilize too much at the same time for your body weight, maca can make you feel jittery or wired, practically like caffeine may (though maca does not contain caffeine). since maca is stimulating, this is rather possible. If this takes place, merely decrease the amount you’re taking.

Insomnia: just like jitters, it’s important to bear in mind that maca is promoting. If you find 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. Talk about the matter with your professional if you’re pregnant or lactating, and want to begin or continue taking maca. Little formal research has actually been done on the safety of taking maca during pregnancy.

Some health care specialists think it’s safe to take throughout the whole pregnancy, while others mention the possible threats of choosing to do so.

On the professional side are those who feel that since maca has no negative effects, it might be a good natural alternative to prenatal vitamins, and can help balance the hormones, particularly during the first trimester.

Other specialists fret that maca might 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 talk to your specialist and/or signed up dietician prior to deciding. [12]


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