The maca root has many benefits for health, it is a powerful hormone regulator, it supplies energy, reduces tiredness, helps to treat menopause, and it is a strong aphrodisiac, apart from stimulating the fertility.
Depending on the therapeutic use for health that we want to achieve, we will have to consume it in different ways, colors, and dose.
In this article we tell you everything you need to know about the authentic maca from the Andes: its peculiarities, the properties that make of it a superfood, its benefits for our health, the different formats in which it is sold (powder, gelatin, and extract), and all the characteristics from this extraordinary plant that may interest you.
- 1. What is Maca?
- 2. The special ingredients of Maca
- 3. Main Properties of Maca
- 4. The Therapeutic Uses of the Maca: Properties and Benefits
- 5. Summary About Maca Root:
- 6. What are the benefits of Maca Root for our health?
- 7. The Maca and its Adaptogenic Properties, how does it Affect the Organism
- 8. The Maca as an energizer: it Provides Strength and Vitality, Increases the blood flow, and Remineralizes the Bones
- 9. The maca increases muscle mass and favors strength and endurance during physical training (its use in bodybuilding)
- 10. Maca to Enhance the Libido (its use as an aphrodisiac)
- 11. Maca for Women
- 12. Maca for Men
- 13. History of the Cultivation of Maca
- 14. The Authentic Inca Maca (Lepidium Meyenii)
- 15. Types of Maca: Benefits according to its color
- 16. The maca can regulate the nervous system and increase the memory and the learning ability
- 17. The effect of maca on the metabolism, diabetes, and weight loss
- 18. Risks and side effects of the maca
- 19. How to consume maca and its effects
- 20. Recommended Dose of Maca
- 21. Maca is Advised for the following cases:
- 22. Which deficiencies do the active ingredients from Maca fight?
- 23. Who can especially benefit from taking Maca?
- 24. Conclusion about Lepidium Meyenii
- 25. Related Entries:
What is Maca?
The term “maca” comes from the chibcha culture and it is formed by the syllable “ma” (which means “from highest heights”) and “ca” (which means “strengthening food”). In Quechua language it is known as “ayak chichira” or “ayak willka”.
Maca is a food that was discovered by the Incas who used it with therapeutic purposes because of its multiple benefits for our health. It was also used in the Peruvian region of Junín in order to pay taxes to the emperor, who would use it to feed his soldiers during military campaigns due to the energy it provides.
This tuber is rich in nutrients and has a powerful revitalizing effect, even under extreme conditions. Maca stimulates muscle growth and provides lucidity and mental clarity. Moreover, it is a hormone and endocrine regulator and it increases libido and fertility, both in men and women. Due to these properties it has become a widely famous sexual enhancer, both for men and women, and it is known as “Andean Viagra” or “Peruvian Ginseng“.
We can consume this plant in different formats: pure powder, gelatin, extract, capsules or tablets. Its administration will vary according to age, sex, or the recommended dose for each person.
The special ingredients of Maca
The benefits of maca on health are due to the combination of its ingredients, even though not all have been completely investigated. Here, we offer a summary of the most known ingredients of maca and their properties for health:
- Macamide: FAAH inhibitors. It produces similar results to anti-inflammatory and anxyolitic medicines, and it improves the regeneration and increases the endurance when we undergo physical or mental stress for a long period of time.
- Alkaloids: Macaridine, macaene, lepidiline A and B. It regulates the hormone modulation of the hypothalamus.
- Mustard oil glycosides: glucotropaeolin with anti-cancer activity. Recommended to prevent breast and prostate cancer. The glycosides from mustard oil have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties for the human body.
- Beta-carboline: the maca has little amounts of triptone, that acts as an anti-depressant by inhibiting the re-absorption of serotonine and norepinephrine. The tryptolin has an antioxidant effect.
- Beta-sitosterol: it reduces the cholesterol levels in the blood, produces a reduction of prostate swelling, and inhibits baldness in men.
- Selenium: the maca has enormous amounts of selenium (around a 700% of the daily amount that the body needs per a standard serving of 10 g of organic powder). Selenium is a basic antioxidant and it is essential for the functioning of all the endocrine glands.
All this active ingredients are found in each variety of the maca in different concentrations. The way the plant has been processed play an essential role in the benefits that we can obtain for our health. Its purity and quality are also important. The higher the altitude of its cultivation area (exclusive to the Andean maca) the higher the proportion of mustard oil glycosides will be, and the benefits will be also enhanced.
Main Properties of Maca
- The maca has a great variety of vitamins and minerals: iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
- Essential amino acids: all of them except for tryptophan.
- Maca is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, 6 and 9, linolenic, palmitic and oleic acid.
- It contains substances like phytosterols, alkaloids (macaine 1, 2, 3, and 4), flavonoids, saponins, isocyanates, glucosinolates, macacides, alkamides, and more.
- The maca helps to restore the physical balance and to compensate for possible deficiencies of the organism.
- The ingredients from the maca favor the physical performance and the mental resistance.
- The maca is used to treat sexual dysfunctions, which is why it is considered a natural viagra.
Nutritional Profile of Maca
The nutritional profile of the root is high, similar to that of cereals such as corn, rice, and wheat: 60% of carbs, 10% of proteins, 8.5% of fiber, and 2.2% of fat.
It has a lipid concentration around 2.2 per cent, including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid. The maca powder has approximately a 10 per cent of protein that contains seven from the eight essential amino acids. Despite not being a complete protein, it is an excellent source of amino acids, specially for vegan athletes.
Moreover, the andean maca has many minerals in little quantities (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, bismuth, manganese, silicon, and tin.
At the same time, it provides group B vitamins which are the energy vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and B2, vitamin C and vitamin E.
The Therapeutic Uses of the Maca: Properties and Benefits
The maca, which is known with the botanic names of Lepidium peruvianum or Lepidium meyenii, was discovered by the Chinchay culture more than two thousand years ago. This food has aphrodisiac properties, it stimulates fertility and it is an energizer which increases the vitality of its consumer.
Under the Inca rule, it became one of the most important foods and remedies for health of Inca medicine. It was used with diverse therapeutic aims. The Inca people built included this plant among the food that was given to the army in times of war, in order to give them energy. At the time of the Independence of Peru, the maca was forsaken, but from the 1960s onward, it started to gain attention due to studies on the benefits for health that this extraordinary plant provides.
The Maca is an extraordinarily valuable food and a complete dietary supplement, due to the variety of vitamins and minerals that it provides it has an long list of properties. This is why it makes up for the nutritional deficiencies that are experience with age, since the ability of the body to absorb nutrients deteriorates gradually.
It belongs to the adaptogen plants group, which are those that can normalize or balance the responses of the organism by helping to deal with stress situations that otherwise would have a negative effect on its functioning. Therefore, it increases the ability of our body to adapt to environmental factors like stress, toxins, etc.
Generally, the Maca acts positively on the organism and it is considered on of the most aphrodisiac plants both for men and women, which helps to treat fertility problems. Now, we will deepen in some of its more remarkable properties and benefits:
- Improving the energy levels, which increases the physical performance and endurance
- Reinforcing the immune system
- Increasing the capacity of the brain. Mental agility and learning are enhanced by this herb.
- Helping to improve fertility
- Increasing the sexual performance
- Stimulating and enhancing the libido
- Helping to regulate the hormone production
- Producing and improving the symptoms of menopause
- Regulating the testosterone levels
- Relieving menstrual pains
- It is nutritionally dense, since it provides a big amount of nutrients
- The phytoestrogens in the root can also provide antidepressant effects
On the other hand, it has been scientifically proven that the intake of Maca during several weeks has a series of benefits for health such as: increasing the quality of the sperm, the number of spermatozoa, and their speed. Specifically, the maca root has been traditionally used to increase the levels of fertility and to improve the sexual activity. It can increase the motility and the number spermatozoa in the semen. The root can also increase sexual desire and improve the performance. It also has the ability to increase the libido.
Summary About Maca Root:
- The maca root is a tuber used by the Inca culture in order to treat many diseases. This extraordinary plant is one of the few that can survive the harsh meteorological conditions and height of the Andes. This plant has invigorating properties and it is a powerful aphrodisiac, which encourages and enhances the fertility in men, women, and animals. Due to its stimulating power, the Inca culture used it to feed their army.
- It is available in different formats: organic powder, gelatin, capsules, as well as in liquid form or drops.
- The cradle of maca cultivation is in Peru, in the region of Lake Junín, which has a protected designation of origin known as “Maca Junín-Pasco“.
- In the last decade, its cultivation has become popular in China as well. However, maca from China has a dubious quality since it is farmed in the region of Yunnan, whose terrain is mostly contaminated by heavy metals. Moreover, this region lacks the meteorological conditions that are unique to the Andes, the birthplace of maca. That is why it is highly important to distinguish the origin of the plant that is being consumed, since that alone will determine the quality of the plant.
- The therapeutic efficacy of the plant depends on the altitude of the Andes, since high pressure is what causes maca to store all its nutrients, which are so beneficial for our health, in the hypocotyl or root. Unlike other plants, maca’s hypocotyl is edible.
- The especial feature of this plant is that, apart from transferring its benefits to the person or animal that consumes it, it also transfers its strength and energy. This is why apart from being one of the most effective remedies for our health, it encourages a healthy lifestyle and full of energy.
- The most well-known maca is the one with the yellow root. However, this plant can come in a wide range of colors. Although their composition is similar in all their colors, their effects are very different. Currently, the following colors were available in the market: yellow, red, purple, black, or mixed. In this article, we will tell you the different benefits and remedies that each color can offer.
What are the benefits of Maca Root for our health?
Strictly speaking, maca root is not a root itself, rather, it is part of a hypocotyl, which goes from the root to the plant. The true root begins as an appendix from the lower end of the tuber until the hypocotyl. Due to this, the maca tuber is botanically called “hypocotyl”. However, to make it simpler we use the term “root” in order to refer to the maca tuber and its derivatives.
The hypocotyl is the main organ of the maca plant, the part in which the main nutrients are stored during its first year of growth. In the Andes, where the terrain is very elevated, maca absorbs the minerals of the soil where it is farmed. That is why it is important to respect the fallow periods between different seasons in order to give the soil time to regenerate. Thanks to this, Andean maca is exceptionally rich in minerals and its hypocotyl provides therapeutic properties for which the plant is traditionally known and which offers plenty of benefits to those who consume it.
Maca provides to those who consume it both its therapeutic properties as well as its strength and energy. This is due to the fact that the plant extracts minerals from the ground where it is farmed, with which it produces changes in the blood flow, consequently stimulating the body to absorb the minerals from the maca and to transport it to all the proteins of the body.
- In the same way that maca can reproduce while facing adverse conditions, it is also a hormone regulator that stimulates human reproduction even with adverse conditions, in order to help to increase fertility both in men and women.
- Maca has other benefits for our health: it strengthens the immune system, it favors the concentration and memory, it eliminates anxiety and stress. That is why those who consume maca become happier, have more will power, and a more balanced and pleasant lifestyle.
The Maca and its Adaptogenic Properties, how does it Affect the Organism
An adaptogen is a substance that helps the body to adapt to the environment and provides an optimal performance at a physical and mental level. In Indian medicine, adaptogens are known with the name “rasayana”. The main effect of the maca consists on regulating and balancing the hormones, even under stress or difficult conditions.
The effect of maca is due to the powerful “willpower” of the plant in the hostile conditions of the Andes.
The Maca is regarded as an adaptogen plant, which means that its consumption increases the body’s resistance against diseases and stressful situations, it modulates the metabolism so that it can “adapt” to exceptional times, physiological changes, or times of higher energy requirements.
The Maca, like other plants such as Ginseng, Rhodiola Rosea, or Aswaghandha, fit into the adaptogen group.
It has been proven that the root has antioxidant properties. It is an effective destroyer of the free radicals which protects the cells from oxidative damage. Maca can also help to reduce the cholesterol levels.
The maca plant has to make adjustments constantly in order to survive the adverse climatic conditions of the Andes in order to produce its seeds while dealing with extreme temperatures (cold at night, suffocating during the day), strong winds, high UV radiation, and the danger of predators. The power of this plant, when it carries out its adaptation to the environment, is contained in its nutrients and transmitted to the people that consume it. We can say that, apart from the ingredients of the maca, it also transfer its powerful “willpower”, energy, and vitality to the organism. This has been proven by several scientific studies on the issue, among which the following stand out:
- Remineralization: The maca belongs to the family of the cress, an underground tuber that forms its seeds with the minerals that it absorbs. This explains its high mineral content. It could be thought that the plant has a limited amount of minerals. However, when it enters the organism, it stimulates it and triggers a change in the proteins, which are transferred through the blood. In this way, the organism is capable of absorbing the minerals more easily. Due to this, people or animals that include it in their diet can help the organism to treat anemia and avoid a loss of iron.
- Fertility: The maca “wants” above all to produce seeds, no matter how hostile the conditions are, and no matter how difficult reproducing might be. Due to this innate power, this plant transfers the same willpower to the people and animals that consume it. This is one of the reasons why the maca is capable of increasing the amount of sperm and of regenerating it in just two weeks. The experiments carried out on rats subjected to poisoning with pesticides have produced the same regenerating effect. And the same happens with the hormones from the ovulation in women, which increase after the consumption of this plant.
- Libido: the aphrodisiac properties of the maca come from the firm determination of the plant to reproduce, whose power is accumulated in the radicular bulb.
- Vitality: the maca has nutritional properties, it provides energy and adapts the organism to stressful situations. This is the reason why it is worth highlighting these benefits: it stimulates the hormones related to fertility, improves the state of mind, and favors the relaxation in women who suffer a progesteron deficiency, insomnia, or an emotional unbalance. The little Peruvian plant grows in the Andes, at a high altitude, in a hostile environment, undergoing high temperatures and constant wind every day. In the same way that the plant deals with these adverse conditions, those add it to their diet can deal and reduce the amount of daily stress, regulate their nervous system, get a deep and restful sleep, a general feeling of well-being and a better quality of life.
- Protection from UV rays: The maca has to adjust to the high levels of radiation of the UV lights from its environment. The last experiments carried on laboratory rats have managed to prove that its consumption provides this protection against high radiation from UV rays. Even though this protection is not enough according to current standards, it is what should be expected to the ingredients that the plant can supply related to its consumption.
The properties of the maca related to libido and its immediate effects
The maca root is famous and legendary due to its aphrodisiac properties, specially the speed with which it acts on the organism, just a few hours after consuming the plant. However, it has other properties for health that are experienced in the long-term. One of its immediate effects when it is first consumed is similar to cortisol, which produces a reduction of the hormone stress levels in the long term.
The effect of the maca on the motility of the spermatozoa is immediate and can be noticed the same day of its consumption. However, its properties to “revitalize” the female cycle are produced after a prolonged consumption. The time that it gets to develop the benefits of maca depends on natural organic processes, which explains why in some cases it is faster than others.
Properties of the maca according to its color, format, and dose
Each variety of maca has a quality standard.
The maca helps the body to obtain the nutrients it needs to increase the level of iron in the blood.
We can find the maca in different colors, and each color can have different ingredients and provide different benefits (for example, the red maca is the only one that can reduce prostate enlargement). Moreover, the plant can be consumed in different formats.
The most known is organic maca powder, which is usually a mixture of the main maca colors (yellow, red, purple, and black). It equals the proportion of its harvest (a 51% of yellow maca, a 22% of purple maca, a 17% of red maca, and a 10% of black maca). The proportion may vary according to the therapeutic administration (male fertility or sexual drive, for example). In the last few years a lot of research has been carried on the benefits of maca, and now its specific use is related to a color according to the healing properties that want to be achieved. For example, the black maca is aimed at increasing male sexual drive and at reducing erectile dysfunction.
On the other hand, the benefits of the plant also depend on the quality of the product and the dose that is used in each case. The Andean maca from the Junín-Pasco region, is the only one that is farmed at more than four thousand and a hundred meters of height, which is the reason why it has a higher quality than any other maca coming from any other region of Peru. The plant that grows at a higher altitude has a higher amount of nutrients and properties. Generally, the lower the altitude, the cheaper it will be. Due to this, those who sell this plant, if they are serious companies, will pay attention to the origin of the cultivation area, as well as the level of altitude of said area.
The maca is available in diverse formats: organic powder, gel powder, concentrated form, capsules, or extract (dry or liquid).
It must always be consumed according to the indications and specific doses for each case, following the instructions of the product.
The Maca as an energizer: it Provides Strength and Vitality, Increases the blood flow, and Remineralizes the Bones
In traditional chinese medicine, the maca is classified among the anabolic plants that have energy (Jing), which in truth means that they have a great ability to remineralize and supply nutrients to the organism. Moreover, it regulates the endocrine system and contributes to the hormone balance, which is the reason why the power and vitality come from the inside and its results are prolonged (unlike what happens with stimulants such as coffee).
Many symptoms such as fatigue, loss of concentration or performance, are due to a deficiency of essential minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium in the organism.
When the blood has an iron deficiency, this affects the consumption of oxygen and, therefore, the ability of the organism to obtain energy through breathing. Equally, a calcium and magnesium deficiency are related to tiredness and exhaustion. On the other hand, a iodine deficiency prejudices the functioning of the thyroid gland and metabolism in general.
In these cases, the maca performs two functions, on the one hand, it provides a high amount of minerals to the organism with just 10 grams of organic powder daily; on the other hand, it increases the absorption of minerals that come from other foods.
Comparative table of the daily intake of maca in relation to the minerals that the organism needs daily
Transport of proteins: globulins and albumin
The maca provides a lot of benefits for health: it stimulates the blood flow and favors the transport of the proteins that vitamins and minerals have to the whole organism. This favors a bigger intake of vital nutrients that come from other foods. In particular, the protein from the blood called albumin, which represents from a 55 to 60% of the protein in blood plasma, is significantly enhanced. Some substances, such as the fatty acids, ionic minerals (magnesium Mg 2+, calcium Ca 2+) and the trace elements cannot be transported through the blood without the albumin, which is the reason why they do not reach the organism when there is a deficiency of these substances.
The albumin is in charge of the transport of the thyroidal hormones, which are essential for the metabolism. The optimal result of some medicines depends on the albumin content of the blood. A lack of albumin can cause hepatic damage and a loss of osmotic pressure in the tissues and the production of edemas in the blood vessels.
The maca increases muscle mass and favors strength and endurance during physical training (its use in bodybuilding)
During the Inca Empire, the maca was part of the foods that were given to the soldiers during war campaigns in order to favor their strength and energy. Due to this, it started to be farmed in the whole Andean region in order to guarantee the supply for the soldiers’ diet for the entire year. Due to the powerful energy it provides, which increases physical performance, it is the most used nutritional supplement by sportspeople, bodybuilders, and athletes, since it increases strength and endurance. But in order to get its maximum effect, it must be consumed in the correct variety, and in the adequate intake and dose for each case.
The maca increases the muscle mass and favors the regeneration of the muscle
The maca is mainly known for its aphrodisiac effects and its properties to stimulate the libido and increase the levels of testosterone. Most of the studies on this plant deal with relatively low doses, around three grams. This dose is ten times lower when compared to the food that the soldiers of the Inca Empire used to eat. However, a new Japanese study has broken this tendency by encouraging a high and concentrated dose for eight weeks. The experiment carried on rats has proven that maca produces a sharp increase of testosterone.
When it comes to the muscle regeneration and endurance, it has been proven that the macamide ingredient produces a significant improvement of the performance. This was observed in an endurance experiment carried on mice, in which 123 mg of black maca pure powder were used, which has a higher macamide content. The macamides act as endocannabinoids that produce similar results to painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines.
The maca capsules are widely consumed among sportspeople and active people, since they help to increase endurance and strength.
According to studies carried out throughout several years, consuming maca before training helps to increase the endurance and energy levels
Moreover, it improves the blood flow an reduces the blood pressure. Thanks to this, you will get the best transport of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, which will result in a better performance during training and an optimal muscle growth.
Maca to Enhance the Libido (its use as an aphrodisiac)
The maca is regarded as the number one natural aphrodisiac in the world. It is famous for its aphrodisiac properties, for which it has always been regarded as a sexual enhancer. As we previously mentioned, the plant reproduces in unfavorable conditions, and it transfers this strength to those who consume it and enhances the libido and fertility in men and women.
All the clinical studies on the maca highlight its aphrodisiac properties and its ability to stimulate the sexual drive and libido in men and women who suffer from some kind of sexual dsorder.
The maca can help men with erectile dysfunction and people who have a lower sexual drive due to some kind of depression. In the case of serious sexual dysfunction, the studies are not yet concluding. In any case, the organic black maca powder is the one that has the higher aphrodisiac effect.
The maca, apart from being an excellent enhancer of the body and mind, acts an a great aphrodisiac agent and helps to increase the sexual desire.
The studies about the chemical composition of the Maca root have proven that it includes a substance known as p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which has the ability to increase the libido and avoid and treat impotency problems.
In order to test it, the researchers carried out a series of controlled experiments with animals, their results were published in the medical journal Urology, in the issue of April 2000.
This study suggested that those rodents that fed on the pure maca extract not only experienced an increase of energy and vitality, but also a incredible increase in libido when compared to the rodents that did not consume maca.
Other studies prove that consuming maca balances the reduction of hormone secretions that take place with maturity, which reduces and even removes certain disorders such as impotency and infertility.
The Maca helps to balance the organs that release hormones, such as the hypothalamus, by activating the pituitary and suprarenal glands, and the pancreas, which achieves an increasing effect in testosterone levels and general levels of hormone balance (Dr. M. Ley PhD).
So maca has the ability to prevent hormone changes, increase sexual drive, libido, endurance and energy levels.
Maca for Women
The Maca balances the female hormone system (menstruation, fertility, and menopause)
During the Inca Empire, the maca was used for healing purposes in order to treat hormone problems in women, from the menstruation to menopause. This is due to the effects of its sterols on the hypothalamus, since it acts on the pituitary-ovarian axis and it stimulates the production of hormones from the inside. This is why it is an adaptogen and not a phytohormone, as it has been mistakenly classified sometimes.
The maca does not add phytohormones to the body, but it has the ability to balance the functioning of the hormones.
The maca guarantees a better balance between the estrogens and gestagens. In the clinical studies carried out on its benefits during menopause, it has been proven that it increases smoothly the functioning of certain hormones over the symptomatic threshold (menopause is asymptomatic, which is why it benefits women who are undergoing menopause). In any case, it is important to always take the correct dose.
The red Maca regulates the female cycle and enhances the fertility and beauty
The red maca is the most important variety for women. It regulates the female cycle and ovulation, it relieves the premenstrual syndrome, and reduces the problems caused by menopause. But it also balances the relation of estrogens and progestin, and relieves the typical symptoms of menopause or anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation) which can reduce the mood swings and irritability.
Hormone deficiencies during menopause produce liquid retention, weight increase, and dryness of the skin. The red maca (in all its varieties) relieves these problems and improves the state of women that consume it in general. As we can see, the properties of red maca are especial, even though it is not exactly known which chemical reaction trigger this.
Practising sports and taking Maca help with the female sexual function.
The Maca and Menopause
Certain components of the Maca can have estrogenic effects on the body. This can be useful for the treatment of discomforts during the menopause. Several studies have proven that the Maca extract helps to stimulate the endocrine function, which helps to improve or avoid hormone unbalances.
Unlike other plants that are known due to its beneficial properties for the menopause such as soy, red clover, hop, the maca does not posses phytoestrogen elements.
Nevertheless, it is believed that its beneficial effects are due to its high content in fatty acids (which are important for the synthesis of hormones) and its effects as an adaptogen. Women who consume Maca during this period claim that the maca helps to reduce certain symptoms such as hot flushes, and improves the state of mind and the energy.
There is a study that has been published in the International Journal of Biomedical Science, where the properties of the maca are presented as an alternative therapy, not hormonal, in menopausal women.
The result of the study showed that the maca can help to balance hormone levels and palliate vasomotor and psychological symptoms such as nervousness, hot flushes, night sweating, depression, mood swings, or heart palpitations that some women experience during the climacterium.
The purple and yellow Maca are recommended during menopause and post-menopause
The symptoms of menopause happen due to a reduction of sexual hormones. During the pre-menopause, the levels of progesteron and estradiol start to lower before the beginning of menopause. During this phase, there are menstrual disorders, irritability, mood swings, and hot flushes. Generally, the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is applied in these cases. However, this treatment has many side effects and it has the risk of producing cancer. In these cases, purple or red maca relieve the pre-menopause problems and produce a light increase of estradiol, progesteron, and the levels of the FSH. Its consumption helps to provide a feeling of calmness and it encourages weight loss.
This has been proven in clinical studies which tested how the symptoms were relieved in most of the participants in just eight weeks after using this plant, even in relatively low intakes.
Women go from menopause to post-menopause a year after the last menstruation takes place. When post-menopause begins, the most relevant symptoms is the estradiol deficiency, which is linked to a progressive reduction of the fertility hormones, FSH and LH.
The yellow maca can help women in this phase to relieve this problems, since it favors the adaptation to the physiological changes of post-menopause and, at the same time, the maca (both the yellow and purple ones) increase bone density and, therefore, they actively prevent the development of osteoporosis.
The Maca and Osteoporosis
The Maca has the ability to help to prevent osteoporosis in women, a degenerative disease that affects the bone structure and that occurs in 1 out of 3 women over the age of 50.
The Maca is rich in calcium, magnesium, and silica, all of them important minerals to produce healthy bone tissue.
Usually, doctors tend to prescribe a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that is made of a series of medicines that help to reduce and even avoid osteoporosis.
Nevertheless, even though this treatment is efficient and reduces the probability of fractures, it can affect other organs and even increase the risk of developing breast and uterus cancer.
Each time there are more women who avoid the hormone replacement therapy and who look for “more natural” alternatives, such as including certain plants in their diet.
One of the first scientific approaches to the Maca as an efficient remedy against osteoporosis took place in 2006.
A Chinese researcher called Yong-zhong Zhang wanted to study the effects of the maca as a remedy for osteoporosis in rats. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, April 2006). This topic inspired the UPCH team to investigate the topic in a more meticulous way: they compared the effects of the red Maca with the most treatment to avoid/stop osteoporosis, the estradiol (synthetic estrogen).
Using an animal model, the scientists divided 30 laboratory rats in two groups which have been provoked osteoporosis previously: one of the groups was given high doses of red maca extract and the other group was given just the HRT. The group of rats that were given red maca extract obtained an spectacular ability to regenerate bone structures, even more than the group that was given the hormones.
The group of rats that was given estradiol reduce the orifices in the bones and the osteoporosis was reverted. However, the same happened and even in a higher degree in the group of rats that consumed Maca. Moreover, the Maca has the advantage that it does not damage other tissues like the HRT does.
The importance of the maca for women and its interaction with birth control pills and pregnancy
The interactions of maca or with pregnancy are not known in depth yet, what we known is that it is not advisable to combine the use of contraceptives with the consumption of maca. However, after stopping the use of birth control pills, the red maca regulates the female cycle and stimulates libido.
Generally, it is not advisable for pregnant women to consume maca, due to safety reasons and for the lack of specific studies.
However, there is evidence that yellow maca can prevent abortions during the first period of the pregnancy. There are clinical studies that have proven the positive influence of the maca in animal embryos and in the uterine lining, by using gelatinized maca lightly boiled in order to avoid the irritation of the infants’ intestine.
Maca for Men
The Maca increases the sex drive of men and regulates the male hormone system
The black maca stimulates the male sex drive. The power of maca to increase the virility and male libido is legendary. Thanks to this, the plant gained a lot of popularity among the Spanish colonizers, which then spread it throughout the whole world. Cattle farming is possible in the heights of the Peruvian Andes thanks to the fact that they feed on this plant, which has the property to develop a higher number of spermatozoa in the animals that live in those hostile lands.
Men experience a similar process to menopause called andropause and that produces a lowering of the levels of testosterone and libido. This hormone fluctuations trigger different symptoms, such as obesity, increased stress and estrogens, erectile dysfunction, loss of sex drive, and fertility problems.
In this cases, the black maca can relieve the hormone unbalances and the problems associated to them.
The red maca is recommended to relieve prostate problems and the excess of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes baldness and alopecia
When the male andropause begins, around the age of fifty, the prostate starts to swell, which produces pain or frequency to urinate. But the prostate problems are not only age-related, in fact, young men can also experience them after abusing from anabolic steroids for a long time, since they can produce a change in the tissue of the prostate.
It is thought that an increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT) favors the swelling of the prostate and the reduction of capillary follicles, which produces baldness.
Pure red maca organic powder reduces the concentration of DHT by reducing the zinc content in the prostate, and it also has a great amount of glucosinolates, which inhibit the prostate cancer. The red maca has proven its power and efficiency to reduce the size of the prostate in just 42 days in the cases of steroids use. And it is also very efficient to stop the hair loss and to prevent the development of baldness.
Several studies have shown that the consumption of maca can help to reduce the prostate enlargement, a very frequent problem for men, specially those from 50 years onward, which is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
The Maca extract could act on the androgynous receptors of the prostate, avoiding the binding of hormones that favor its growth.
The black maca increases the testosterone and the amount, quality, and mobility of the spermatozoa
One of the most impressive benefits of the maca is its ability to increase the volume and motility of the spermatozoa, which affects their motility directly. In experiments carried out on animals, it has been proved that with only fourteen days of the consumption of black maca can increase the number of spermatozoa and their mobility.
The black maca stimulates the testosterone and libido.
Another of its benefits consists on the fact that it stimulates the production of the spermatozoa within the organism, which, unlike the intake of artificial hormones, the maca does not produce side effects.
History of the Cultivation of Maca
The history of the cultivation of maca in Peru during more than two thousand years, its use in the Inca culture, its commercial rediscovery, and the news about its cultivation in China, a brief summary:
- Maca (Lepidium meyenii) started to be farmed by the Chinchay culture, which was placed in the plateau of Junín Lake during more than 2000 years, since then it has still been cultivated in the whole Andean territory.
- In 1460, with the expansion of the Inca Empire, the cultivation of maca spread from the Chinchay tribal area and started to be used as a medicinal plant by the army and the nobility due to its extraordinary benefits and properties to encourage the fertility.
- The discovery of America played an important role in the diffusion of this plant when the Spanish people accepted this plant as payment for the taxes in the colonies (instead of gold), which allowed Spain to enjoy the benefits of this plant for health, but specially women and the hormone balance.
- After Peru’s independence and industrialization, maca was forsaken until the 1960s, when it was rediscovered by the Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacón, who wanted to give maca powder the importance it deserved for the health of women.
- From then on, the exportation of maca increased until, from the year 2014, it experienced a considerable increase, becoming very popular in China.
- From that moment, it started to be planted in China, in the Yunnan region, although the quality of the soil was not appropriate, which is why it cannot be compared with Peruvian Maca, specially due to the altitude of the Peruvian lands, which is indispensable for its cultivation.
The origin of maca cultivation in Junín
The origin of the cultivation of maca (Lepidium meyenii) is set in the Peruvian region of El Junín, which holds the greatest amount of its crops in the world.
From said region, it spread until the Andean zones from Bolivia. Due to the special conditions of this geographical area, maca has botanical peculiarities that provide it with extraordinary invigorating properties for women and men that had made it highly popular. This popularity is due to the fact that its contraindications for health are scarce or nonexistent.
The origin of the cultivation of maca in the Junín Lake
Evidence has been found that proves the settling of humans in the Pachamachay caves that inhabited this area more than 10.000 years ago.
Between 1200 and 100 BC, the wild tribes from “Pumpush” (Chinchay) settled around the Chinchaychocha lake (which is known today as the Junín Lake). Ancient ceramic pieces were found in these settlements, which contained engravings in which the planting of foods such as maca and potatoes “Shiri” (bitter potatoes) appeared. It is one of the few plants that can grow in the extreme conditions of the Andean highlands and their extreme climate, which burns in the afternoon and gets very cold at night.
The maca root (Lepidium meyenii) was possibly discovered by observing how wild animals fed on it, the vicuñas and lamas which were hunted and domesticated by the Pumpush tribe.
The wild maca root still grows in the Andean highlands and it is known among the native people by the name of “shihua maca”.
The cultivation of Maca during the Inca Empire
Since 1460, the Inca Empire spread under the rule of their ninth king, Pachacútec, who established his power other over tribes from the south of the Titicaca lake.
The King Pachacútec improved the infrastructures, built pathways, and developed new agricultural techniques which were more efficient.
The political system of the Inca Empire established a tax from two thirds of the harvest per year, to reciprocate for the services it provided to the kingdom. In this way, the Inca Empire created a prosperous society in which there was not poverty nor hunger, since the poor regions could enjoy the excess of this food which came from the richest areas.
The economy was organized without the need to use money and the activity of the Empire was divided between artisan and agricultural specialization. Under this system, the region exclusively focused on planting of this root after discovering the invigorating and stimulating properties of this plant. Due to this, the capital from Junin, Heancayo, became the most important commercial route of the Empire that connected the capital Cusco with the northern territories of the Empire.
The use of maca in the Inca Empire
The Incas used maca (Lepidium meyenii) mainly as a toning and stimulating element for their army, and it was given to the soldiers as food so that they would eat it before battle.
In order to avoid any problems among the population, its consumption finished after the battle was over. Moreover, the maca was also used by the nobility and high spheres of society as a medicinal plant in order to treat malnutrition, weakness, memory loss, insomnia, as well as arthritis, respiratory problems, menstrual discomfort or the symptoms of menopause.
Maca was used by shamans as a magical plant and they used it in sacred rites in order to increase fertility. Its great popularity spread the planting of this food in the whole Andean plateau, until it become one of the most important food in the Inca Empire.
The discovery of maca by the Spanish people
After conquering the Andes, from 1532 to 1536, two decades went by until the maca was first mentioned in the Spanish chronicles.
The first one to write about the history of the life of the maca was the Spanish chronicler Cieza de León in 1553. He wrote about the existence of a certain root which was cultivated by the Indians from the Peruvian mountains, situated in the Bonbon area.
A century later, father Cobo already mentioned this root with its common name “maca” and emphasized its properties to encourage fertility, which were highly valued by the Spanish settlers. There is a legend about how some settlers had animals with fertility problems, or they were born prematurely or with malformations, and how by observing the lamas, they attributed their state to the benefits of the maca that they ate regularly.
By observing the feeding habits of lamas, the Spanish settlers discovered the maca and their extraordinary benefits and effects for health.
It is not certain if the legend is based on true facts or if its just a fable. But the truth is that after the miraculous discovery of the maca root as one of the most special foods for the health of women, it is now understandable that the Spanish settlers allowed natural maca instead of gold as payment for their taxes.
Due to this, the settlers carried this plant to Spain, where it was extremely successful and gained a great popularity among the aristocracy and the Spanish nobility.
Why was maca forsaken
In the 6th of August of 1824, the battle of Junín took place between the Spanish Army and Simón Bolívar, which signalled the end of the Spanish domain on this territory.
Afterwards, there was a period of political instability, with civil wars in Peru and a lot of political problems.
This period was followed by the modernization of the country, and many Indians migrated to the cities to start working in the mines. This is the reason why in the 19th century, the cultivation of maca was at a standstill and their extraordinary benefits were forgotten.
The rediscovery of the maca during the 1960s
In 1961, the biologist Gloria Chacón carried out its university thesis about natural maca and its effects, its contraindications, and its benefits in the hormone balance of women.
Her thesis was published in 1972 and it brought international interest to this plant for nutrition, it generated much more specialized studies in which its phenotype, benefits, and vitamins supply were analyzed. At that point, its plating was almost extinguished and it was only cultivated by the local population for its individual use in their daily diet.
Even after its rediscovery, maca powder had to wait until the 1990s to become popular once again for its benefits for health and vitamins content at a commercial level.
In 1994, there were only around 50 hectares of maca crops and at the end of that decade, its plating increased to 1.200 hectares in order to meet the demand that grew specially in the USA and Japan.
Between 2000 and 2005, its exportation volume per year was multiplied by ten, and its cultivation has only increased from then on.
Apart from its traditional cultivation in Andean regions, its planting spread to the South of Puno, Huánuco, Huancavelica, Libertad, and Ancash.
This table shows the progressive increase of its exportation from the year 2008 to 2012:
Nowadays, this enormous demand of the Peruvian maca represents an essential part of their economy. Gloria Chacón, who is regarded as the discoverer of the benefits of maca, has a place of honor in the celebration that commemorates the freedom of Junín each year.
Andean maca, how does it grow and is farmed in the Andes
The exclusive properties of Andean maca are due to its natural farming and the peculiar meteorological conditions, such as the high altitude of the Andes, and the environment in which the plant grows.
Maca (Lepidium peruvianum) belongs to the botanical family of cress (Lepidium) and to the cruciferous species (Brassicaceae). This plant has an annual crop. It is a fleshy herb, and its size is similar to that of the radish, which is also similar to the cruciferous species.
Due to the extreme meteorological conditions of the place where it grows, over 4.000m height, with a extremely cold temperature at night, 24°C during the day and strong winds, the plant will only grow between twelve and twenty centimeters. The more it grows, the stronger it becomes, and the more benefits for our health it provides.
This is the reason why maca that is farmed anywhere and under four thousand meters of altitude has a much lower price than the real Andean maca.
If the soil where maca root is farmed is very high and inhospitable, its benefits for our health are going to be enhanced.
The height and meteorology of the Andes make of maca root a underground tuber that absorbs all minerals and nutrients from the subsoil.
Maca reproduces through self-pollination and, during its flowering, it develops delicate flowers which can be white, yellow, or lightly red colors. At the end of their reproductive cycle, the main root gets bigger and more fibrous and it is splattered with little seeds, until it dies. In traditional farming, tubers are harvested on time before they dry and only a few are left in order to continue the biological process of their farming.
The cultivation of the maca in China
In 2014, the Chinese triggered a “boom” of the maca and its price multiplied by ten. As a consequence, Chinese smugglers payed the farmers for their roots, which have not been planted, and got them through the Bolivian border, since the Peruvian government only allowed the exportation of maca when it was already cultivated.
The consequences is that now you can find other maca products that come from China which have been altered. In China, they developed a synthetic version of maca powder that is sold in different products designed to enlarge the penis, although it has been proven that maca cannot produce such effect. However, due to this kind of publicity, its consumption has become very popular in China.
Nowadays, maca is also being planted in the Chinese province of Yunnan, which is contaminated with heavy metals.
Plenty of the seeds from smuggling are planted in Yunnan throughout 15 000 hectares, with the serious risk that it implies for health, since approximately a 70% of these areas are contaminated with chromium and heavy metals. However, even if there was no contamination, the conditions of the soil cannot be even compared with the ones that exist in the Peruvian mountains, since the therapeutic properties of the maca are not the same when they are cultivated in lower altitudes.
This is why, since the Andean maca roots have a very different aspect from Chinese ones, the Chinese customers are demanding original Andean maca due to its organic quality, and they are willing to pay more in order to get the authentic maca.
Even if the Agriculture Department from Peru is trying to end maca smuggling, it is a hard task, which is why its consumers should be careful and not to trust products which are surprisingly cheap, since they can contain Chinese maca cultivated in contaminated soil.
The native Andean maca against Chinese maca
After the conquest of the Chincha region by the Inca Empire in the 15th century, Lake Junín was under the reign of Cusco and, with it, he controlled the farming of this plant as well.
When they tested the benefits of maca, the Incas decided to increase their crops throughout fields of high altitude, by giving a financial compensation to specialized farmers. At that time, the consumption of this tuber was exclusive to the army, the nobility, and Spanish conquerors, who accepted it as method of payment for taxes and tributes.
After the War of Independence industrialization happened, and the phenomenon of urbanization attracted the rural people from the Andes, and the cultivation of this tuber was practically forsaken.
In the 1970s it was rediscovered by the botanist Gloria Chacón, and from then on it gained popularity.
It is necessary that the users of this miraculous plant know that quality maca, with therapeutic benefits, is the native plant, which comes from the surrounding areas of Lake Junín. This maca is protected with a designation of origin “Maca Junín-Pasco”, since the ground where it grows is rich in minerals and its especial micro-climate grants this plant with unique features. Moreover, this geographical area is where this wild plant was born.
When it comes to purchasing maca, it is highly important that we check that the product we are acquiring is the authentic Andean maca. How does the origin of the plant shape its effects? The origin of the product is very important, since it is the only thing that guarantees the therapeutic properties of the plant, that is why we must distinguish Andean maca from any other product, especially Chinese maca which is invading the market since 2014.
The issue with maca farmed in China is that it can produce toxicological problems, since Chinese maca is cultivated in contaminated soil with heavy metals.
The traditional cultivation of maca in Peru is in danger
Due to the smuggling of maca and its cultivation in China with lower prices, the traditional farming of Andean maca runs the risk of disappearing. This is due to the use of machines and fertilizers that can reduce the quality of the original process in which the roots were sun-dried, maintaining all its properties intact.
The quality of Andean maca is mainly due to the planting and harvesting process, which relies on different factors: the high latitudes, its traditional harvesting which needs time and patience. Due to this, maca preserves the quality of its botanical peculiarities and extraordinary properties as a medicinal plant.
The Authentic Inca Maca (Lepidium Meyenii)
The main characteristics of the authentic Maca are:
- The maca seed, which is also known by its botanical name “Lepidium meyenii“, is an herbaceous plant that grows in the Andes, Peru, and which has properties for health, such as enhancing the libido and sex drive, or favoring the hormone balance during menopause. Another benefit consists on strengthening the muscles and bones and it also helps to regulate the blood flow and the nervous system.
- The maca grows in the Andean region of lake Junín, which is where its cultivation originated more than two thousand years ago. The native tribes who came from the Inca culture have cultivated maca for more than two thousand years. It is believed that it was discovered by observing how animals fed from it and how it affected them positively.
- Andean maca, also known as Lepidium peruvianum, has proven to be the most efficient and the one that has more benefits for health, which is why it cannot be compared to other macas, such as Lepidium meyenii, which is of a lower quality.
- The seed of maca grows in the Peruvian Andes and it is known as Shihua maca or Wild maca. The special conditions of the soil and the climate are what make of the Andean maca the best in the entire world.
Lepidium meyenii (Maca)
The Maca or Lepidium meyenii, is a little, miraculous tuber that only grows in the Andes. It is considered a superfood due to its extraordinary benefits for health among which stimulating sexual drive and fertility stand out. Moreover, maca also has other effects, such as enhancing the muscles, increasing energy, and encouraging hormone balance.
Andean maca grows on the soil of a three thousand and seven hundred meters altitude and four thousand and five hundred meters above sea level, which is the reason why it is extraordinarily rich in minerals.
The special climate from the Andes, with extremely cold temperatures during the night and a high solar radiation during the day, also contributes to the effect that maca has on health. Normally, in regions of a high altitude, male fertility is reduced, both in humans and animals. The consumption of maca compensates completely for this sexual deficiency, which is the reason why Andean maca is the most powerful adaptogen plant that is known. Due to its extraordinary benefits, the Peruvian nobility and Spanish conquerors began to consume this food, and in this way it became famous worldwide.
Maca has many benefits for our health:
- Stimulating the production of hormones
- Providing minerals for the bones and blood circulation
- Increasing the libido
- Stimulating the reproduction
- Reducing the anxiety
- Improving the mood
Due to its numerous properties and its exclusive ingredients (maceaene and macamide), the maca is the most investigated medicinal plant as well as the super food with more effects for health and more therapeutic uses for the hormones, the muscles, fertility and libido.
The discovery of maca by precolonial Chincha culture
The research of maca carried out by the Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacón de Popovici at the beginning of the 1960s signalled the beginning of the plant’s international fame. In her research, this biologist discovered that the cattle from the area commonly fed on maca. This is how it was discovered that they have less fertility problems and more vitality and strength. It is believed that the inhabitants of the precolonial Chincha region already knew about the properties of maca and used it with medicinal aims, both for humans and animals.
Later on, the Spanish conquerors noticed that maca fixed the fertility problems of their horses and they used this Andean root as help and remedy for the animals with difficulties to be fertile.
The properties of the maca were discovered by observing how wild animals fed on the plant as a common food of their diet.
The authentic Inca Maca: Lepidium peruvianum vs Lepidium meyenii
These discoveries were carried out specially in the Peruvian region known as the “Meseta del Bombón” which comprises the surrounding areas of the Junín Lake, which is the richest area in rainfall. This is the place where archaeologists have placed the origin of the cultivation of maca by the Inca culture.
In this area, the maca is known a Shihua maca and it grows in the wild. Its composition has exceptional and unique ingredients. This kind of wild maca with medicinal benefits is completely different from the maca known as Lepidium meyenii, which was presented in 1843 by the german botanist Gerhard Walters in the University of Lima.
Differences between Lepidium peruvianum and Lepidium meyenii
The botanist Walters recollected a specimen of a little native plant in the border of Bolivia, it was also called “Maca”, and he took it to the University of Lima. However, this plant had a much thinner root that the Andean maca. Moreover, it did not have the typical turnip shape around the root. But the main difference is that the maca discovered by Walters did not have the properties nor the effects that are typical of the authentic maca discovered by the biologist Gloria Chacón, which is the true Peruvian Andean maca, with unique phytochemical qualities. It is classified as Lepidium peruvianum since 2008.
This is the reason why there are many products in the market and scientific studies that speak about maca as “Lepidium meyenii”, even though the Andean Maca from the Junín-Pasco region is the only one which as a medicinal and therapeutic effect.
The authentic maca is classified as Lepidium peruvianum (Inca or Andean maca).
The seed of wild maca or Shihua maca (Lepidium peruvianum)
The wild variety of this plant that grows in the Junín region was called Lepidium peruvianum by the biologist Gloria Chacón.
This wild maca, which is known among the natives as “maca shihua”, is the one that the cattle used to eat, and which provided them with energy while stimulating their fertility. This Andean maca has a bigger root than other kinds of maca, and its annual cultivation cycle is slower, since it needs eleven months compared to the seven months of other roots.
The wild Andean maca has a higher content in minerals, and eight times a higher content of iron than other kinds of maca.
Nowadays, there are different types of maca that are available in the market which come from the Chincha region. It has farmed for more than two thousand years by the inhabitants of this region. Only this Inca maca has the medicinal effect, which is the reason why it is so valued in the world.
The only way to ensure the quality and therapeutic properties of Andean maca its is traditional farming
For a long time, maca has been cultivated by following the traditional system of native Incas from the Chincha region, organically and without any machinery. This cultivation system requires long periods of fallow. Moreover, the only fertilizer that is used is organic, called “guano” by the incas, which is formed by animals’ feces. Once the maca is cultivated, the process is finished by sun-drying the leaves.
However, due to the high demand of maca, there is also other kind of maca available in the market and which is mainly cultivated in China. It comes from the smuggling of seeds, which does not guarantee its quality and which does not present the therapeutic qualities of Andean maca from Peru. This means that it lacks the beneficial effects from the Andean Maca.
Types of Maca: Benefits according to its color
The external layer of the maca has different colors and properties that vary according to their tone. Here, we explain how each plant works according to its color.
The anthocyanins of the Maca are the ones responsible for the color of the tuber
The hypocotyl has the shape of a turnip and it measures between three and six centimeters wide, and four to seven centimeters long. It can come in different colors, from yellow or cream, to other tones such as whites, browns, purples, reds, or blacks. Among the tubers that come from the same mother plant we can find around 51% of yellow tubers, 39% of red or purple, and a 10% of black tubers.
Andean natives prefer yellow tubers, which are the most abundant, due to their sweet taste.
The color of maca varies according to the soil and its particular composition. The degrees of color, from red to violet to black, are due to the anthocyatins content in the external layers of the tuber. (Anthocyanins are antioxidants which are accidentally responsible for the intense color of elderberries).
All in all, maca has from thirteen to seventeen different colors or color mixtures.
Different maca colors: similar ingredients with different effects
Nowadays, there is a great specialization when it comes to products that come from maca root.
In traditional harvesting the different types of maca tubers were not separated and all of them were dried together. However, nowadays, maca root is separated and processed according to its color. Studies developed up to 2016 have reached the conclusion that there is little difference among the nutritional values of hypocotyl according to their color. But, how does color affect maca? For example, yellow and black tubers have a greater amount of iron, and red tubers have a greater amount of antioxidants. That is why its therapeutic range is still investigated along with its benefits for health, always keeping in mind the particular colors of each one of these plants.
Studies carried out up to 2016 have proven that the different phenotype of the hypocotyl can influence specifically different physiological functions which are important and which affect specific aspects, according to the health, age, and sex of those who consume maca root. Now, we offer a brief description of the different benefits of maca for our health according to its different colors:Maca phenotypes and their effects:
- Black maca stimulates the male libido, the mobility of sperm cells, and virility. It is a sexual stimulant, that is why it is known all over the world as “Andean Viagra”. On the other hand, it has other benefits for our health: such as stimulating the muscles and athletic performance, and regulating the nervous system. Black maca is the most powerful aphrodisiac, both for men and women. If it is consumed in a concentrate form it can increase the testosterone levels.
- Red maca helps to prevent and heal prostate problems related to aging, it regulates the menstrual cycle in women, it stimulates women’s fertility and treats stress disorders, chronic fatigue, and tiredness.
- Purple maca is used to treat menopause and pre-menopause symptoms in women.
- Yellow maca contributes to the hormone balance in post-menopausic women. Moreover, it improves your state of mind, and increases libido for both sexes.
The dark maca (purple or black) is advised to overcome stress, depression, and exhaustion
In today’s society, everyone has a tremendous load of work and responsibility that affects our body and mind. A high level of stress ends up triggering chemical reactions in our organism, like a high level of cortisol that can produce physiological changes in the long-term. When we surpass the limit of the physical or emotional overcharge, we arrive at an exhaustion that can trigger a depression.
The varieties of dark maca (black or purple red) relieve the levels of hormone stress in the long-term and provides energy and vitality.
The varieties of red purple and black maca are the ones that relieve stress. It is advisable to consume them as a concentrate blend of both types, since their active ingredients reduce the cortisol levels. Moreover, they possess some of the psychoactive ingredients that produce similar results to anxiolytic medicines, improve the state of mind, and facilitate sleep, all of this in a natural way.
The quality of sleep is an important sign to know the psycho-physic state of a person, since the person that suffers from stress does not sleep well, wakes up often or with panic. When people suffer from stress they do not get a restful sleep because the stress often produces a chemical change in the brain that makes sleeping difficult. If after consuming maca, the person experiences an improvement in the quality of sleep, this proves that a positive change has happened in the chemicals of the brain.
Recent studies have proven that the compounds found in the maca could help to reduce the cortisol levels that are generated by the organism apart from reducing the feeling of stress, anxiety, and depression.
This change is produced by several active ingredients of the plant, such as the macamides, more specifically the Macamide N-3-methoxybenzyl-linoleic, anxyolitic inhibitors and the FAAH painkillers, that the black maca contains in a higher amount than any other maca color. The FAAH inhibitors are being used in the latest psychopharmacological research with the hope to find a treatment for anxiety disorders. The FAAH inhibitors are endocannabinoids that act like the active ingredients of cannabis, binding to the specific receptors of the brain related to anxiety and neutralizing them.
The varieties of dark maca (black or red purple) help to relieve stress.
Another component of purple maca is the glutathione, which can relieve depression and exhaustion. Glutathione is an important antioxidant agent that acts like dopamine in the metabolism. Dopamine buffers depressive states in a natural way.
The purple maca increases the dopamine and noradrenaline levels that, on laboratory experiments with mice, has proven that It improves the functioning of the brain considerably, and avoids its degeneration, with a similar effect to that of the antioxidants. The latest studies have revealed that the concentrate of both types (black and purple) separated or together, relieve depressive states.
It must be taken into account that you have to consume maca continuously in order to appreciate its benefits, since its results manifest in the long term.
Ranking of the effects of the diverse varieties of the maca
Now, here we have a table with the ranking of the basic varieties of the maca: red, purple, black, yellow, and mixed, and a list of each of their properties for health, measured according to their importance in gold, silver, and standard bronze.
- For the effects that enter in the gold area, the maca is the best remedy available and the first choice.
- In the silver area, there are clear and outstanding effects, however, they are surpassed by other natural remedies. In this case, maca has to be combined with other natural remedies.
- Finally, on the bronze area, some effects are obtained, but their intensity is not as strong as the one from other natural remedies.
- The grades A + to A+++, etc. should allow overlapping effect areas, in a combination with the diverse varieties of maca.
The maca can regulate the nervous system and increase the memory and the learning ability
The black maca favors the functioning of the memory and stimulates the cognitive capacity.
The maca helps to lift the mood and to improve the quality of sleep. This is due to the fact that it is a neuroprotector that improves the sleep quality, the levels of hormone stress and oxidative stress of the brain. Different scientific studies carried out on mice have proven that it stimulates intellectual performance, specially on the area related to memory, mental clarity, and the learning ability. Moreover, it functions as a neuroprotector that improves physical and mental performance. Among all the varieties of maca, the black maca (pure and without mixing) contains the most ingredients that stimulate intellectual performance.
The black maca has proven to have properties to stop and relieve senile dementia. Its ingredients, such as acetylcholinerase inhibitors (AchE), are the key elements in medication against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It is worth pointing out that the degree of efficiency in the experiments carried out with animals depends on the level of the dose, which means that the higher the dose, the better the results. This is a leitmotiv in all the research on maca.
Another explanation on the cognitive benefits that maca produces on memory are due to the impact it has on the mitochondria, by improving the autophagy or the elimination of the waste from proteins, which means that the discarded mitochondria go back to the inside of the cell. All in all, the maca has an enormous ability to stop and relieve dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, specially to prevent and relieve naturopathic dementia.
The effect of maca on the metabolism, diabetes, and weight loss
The stimulating properties of the maca on the metabolism of fat, sugars, and the thyroid gland, help to accelerate the loss of fat, the loss of weight, and to prevent the development of diabetes. This plant encourages the hormone balance, prevents from liquid retention, and stimulates muscle growth, which is the reason why it is the perfect dietary supplement for those who want to begin a weight-loss diet.
Generally, the consumption of maca favors the functioning of the metabolism.
The main benefits of the maca on the metabolism are the following:
- Antioxidant properties
- Reduction of Triglycerides
- Reduction of bad cholesterol or LDL
- Improves the glucose metabolism
These factors affect decisively the oxidative state, and the lipid and sugar metabolism. These are very important factors to inhibit the development of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, and other chronic diseases. Moreover, a bad diet and bad quality lifestyle can produce a lack of certain digestive enzymes. In all these cases, the consumption of this plant can be a determinant support. For example, this has been proven in laboratory studies carried out with diabetic mice, whose glucose tolerance significantly increase when they consumed maca along with a diet rich in sucrose.
Moreover, it was also proven in this study that it produced a significant increase in the antioxidant factors in the blood, including the glutathione peroxidase (produced probably by mixing the maca with a enormously high selenium content). The glutathione compounds that it contains are important to relieve the symptoms of depression and to improve the state of mind, favoring the general state of the organism.
Is it easier to Lose Weight if we consume Maca?
The answer is yes, as long as it is accompanied by a healthy lifestyle. The maca facilitates the hormone balance, which relates to weight. For example, a progesterone deficiency can also go together with water retention, that is logically eliminated in the case of compensating that deficiency with the maca.
Moreover, it improves the state of mind, which encourages the person to do exercise and be active.
Risks and side effects of the maca
The maca root is a natural product and a basic food which, in principle, does not have any side effects for health, and can be tolerated by anyone. However, in certain cases some precaution must be taken. The maca has some substances, such as the controversial glucosinates, that increase the immunity, but which can irritate the intestinal mucus in the case of people who have a sensitive stomach. In this case it is recommended to avoid the gelatinized maca variety.
The maca is completely safe for most of people.
Moreover, the plant has beta-carbolines which are potentially psychoactive, even though if the maca is consumed in the recommended amount it will never reach toxic levels. However, the hormonal effect of the plant can produce insomnia, palpitations, or a great increase in libido, which is the reason it is recommended to reduce the dose if you feel these symptoms.
Women who have a testosterone excess must abstain from consuming black maca.
On the other hand, you always have to buy quality maca, which has been harvested on the same year, because if the plant has not been cultivated or dried adequately it could trigger a toxic reaction.
Moreover, the maca is rich in potassium, which is why it is not recommended for people with chronic diseases of suprarenal insufficiency, especially if the daily amount of urine is under 1000 ml per day.
Even though there are no evidences that the maca is bad for pregnant women, they should avoid its consumption. In the case that a woman wants to use it under her responsibility, the recommended variety is the gelatinized.
How to consume maca and its effects
The maca root is available in different formats with different results depending on the way it has been processed. The classic maca powder is an organic powder, in which the maca has been sun dried and it has been grounded afterwards. In the drying process certain active ingredients are produced, such as the powerful macamides. All the maca formats are adequate, but we have to value which benefits do we want to obtain for our health, in order to choose one or another variety.
The different maca formats differ among its ingredients and properties
The organic maca powder has a great amount of the vitamins and enzymes, while other active ingredients are less present. It also has the complete glycosides spectrum from immunogenic mustard oil. Since it is a raw food, it can be consumed everyday. The glycosides from mustard oil have an inhibitory effect on cancer, and must only be avoided if there is an absolute incompatibility. In order to relieve prostatic hyperplasia it is recommended to consume red maca (without mixing) in organic powder or, alternatively, a glycerol extract.
The gelatinized maca is softly precooked at a high pressure and then it is transformed into maca powder. The cooking process breaks down the starch that is hard to digest and it eliminates most of the glycosides of the mustard oil, which is essential for those people who have a sensitive digestion. At the same time, some compounds are lost in the process, like part of the bioavailable enzymes and vitamins. The gelatinized maca has very good results, especially if it is consumed in its concentrate form. The gelatinized powder is specially recommended for pregnant women who want to consume it at the beginning of the pregnancy in order to prevent abortion.
The maca extracts are, in principle, similar to gelatinized powder, but their results depend on their degree of concentration. They can be presented in capsules. In the extract the active ingredients are accumulated, like the macamides which improve performance, which is the reason it is the most indicated for sportspeople or for those who need an intensive treatment.
The glycerin tinctures are more natural than the liquid maca extracts and, unlike other formats, they contain mustard oil glycosides in a similar amount to organic maca powder. The body absorbs glicerol very well and quickly, which gives the glycerin tinctures a great power, even when their maca concentration is lower than that of organic powder.
They are suitable for people who have a normal digestion.
In particular, the alcohol tinctures contain active ingredients that are fat-soluble and that filtrate the starch and the glycosides from mustard oil completely. It is the way that has the higher concentration of active ingredients, such as the macamides. The alcohol extracts are the way that is used in the research of their properties on physical performance. In this format is how the higher aphrodisiac effect is obtained.
We can find other especial form of maca, as a homeopathic product, meyenii Lepidium, that includes the same active principle than the maca plant.
Recommended Dose of Maca
There is no set daily dose for the consumption of Maca, however we advise taking approximately between 1.5g and 3g of maca root powder daily.
If maca is consumed regularly, we suggest resting for periods of 30 days, thus, for every 120 days of consuming Maca, 30 days of rest should be carried out.
The dose of Andean maca will depend on the reason of its consumption, and it can be increased in periods of more mental and physical stress, according to the specific recommendations.
Maca is Advised for the following cases:
- Vitamin deficiency.
- Mineral deficiency.
- When experiencing a lack of physical performance.
- When experiencing a lack of intellectual performance.
- When suffering from sexual dysfunction.
- To increase the libido and sex drive.
- For men who have few spermatozoa.
- To fight depression.
- To fight chronic fatigue.
- When suffering from immune system disorders.
- to treat infertility and reproductive dysfunctions.
Which deficiencies do the active ingredients from Maca fight?
- Vitamin deficiencies.
- Lack of trace elements.
- Loss of energy.
- Lack of sex drive.
- Erection problems.
Who can especially benefit from taking Maca?
- People with vitamin deficiencies who want to increase their vitality.
- Those who have a lack of minerals.
- Anyone subjected to a lot of psychological stress.
- Sportspeople or those who need to carry out any especial physical activity that entails physical or mental stress.
- People with a weak immune system.
- Those who suffer from mood disorders and chronic fatigue, who feel down or weak frequently.
- Men and women with a low libido.
- Men with sexual dysfunction.
- Men with slow spermatozoa.
- Men with few spermatozoa.
Conclusion about Lepidium Meyenii
The Maca root is one of the oldest medicinal plants in Peru and also one that provides great benefits for our health. There are a lot of therapeutic uses for this plant, we must know its properties and dose in detail in order to meet each person’s needs. Through these articles we want to contribute to spreading the knowledge about the miraculous Andean maca root.
The quality of the maca is essential for its benefits for health
The quality of the maca is crucial for its effectiveness. A quality maca offers more ingredients and in a higher concentration. The concentration of anti-cancer glycosinolates can only be found in the Andean maca, which is farmed at more than four thousand meters of height. Moreover, other factors are relevant, such as the region of its cultivation.
The maca that comes from the area surrounding the Junín Lake, has a protected denomination of origin and it is called “Junín-Pasco Maca”. This variety has approximately ten times more magnesium than the one farmed at the south of the same region. To this we must add the degree of freshness of the plant and the quality of its drying, since a product that is sun dried has a higher number of vitamins and enzymes than one that has been dried with machines. The quality is basic, specially for the therapeutic use of this plant.
That is why it is always advised to buy maca in shops or webpages of renowned prestige, such as HSNstore, since there are varieties that come from China that are of very bad quality which they have been genetically modified. They are synthetic and potentially toxic and harmful for health. The Chinese maca is cultivated on contaminated soil with heavy metals. Apart from not producing benefits for the organism, its consumption is not safe, since it does not meet the sanitary controls. We advise to always purchase Andean maca from Peru, even if its price is higher than the Chinese variety.
The experts’ opinion about Maca:
Several clinical studies have also shown that the intake Andean Maca for several weeks improves the quality of the spermatozoa, as well as their speed and number, with consequently improves fertility.
This implies that consuming maca for several weeks has considerable benefits, at least among men from 20 to 40 years of age, such as a significant increase in sexual activity and fertility, due to the stimulation of the formation of more male hormones.