The aerial part of maca has 12 to 20 leaves and the foliage forms a mat-like, creeping system of stems that grows close to the soil. The underground part 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 broad; a cold climate seems to be critical for its development or development. Maca is cultivated in a narrow, high-altitude zone of the andes mountains in peru. Maca has one of the highest frost tolerances of any cultivated plant, enabling it to grow at altitudes of 3,800 to 4,800 m above water level in the puna and suni ecosystems, where just alpine grasses and bitter potatoes can survive. Maca and a number of related wild species likewise are discovered in the bolivian andes. While traditionally cultivated as a vegetable crop, usage for its medicinal homes has actually become more popular in peru.

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

Maca is a plant that grows on the high plateaus of the andes mountains. It’s been cultivated as a root veggie for at least 3000 years. The root is likewise used to make medication, however there isn’t enough dependable info available to know how maca might work.

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

History and tradition

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

The first written description about maca (as a root without identification 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, especially in the province of bombón (chinchaycocha; present day: junin) the locals used specific roots for upkeep. The roots, he was describing were maca.

Dad cobo was the very first to explain the name of maca and its homes in 1653. He stated that this plant grows in the harshest and coldest areas of the province of chinchaycocha where no other plant for male’s nourishment could be grown. Cobo likewise referred to making use of maca for fertility. In the 18th century, ruiz referred to the fertility-enhancing residential or commercial properties of maca and also its stimulant impact. I think stimulant result could be related to energizer result or an effect on mood or wellness.

Generally, after being harvested maca is dried naturally and can hence be stored for many years. The dried hypocotyls are hard as stone. After being naturally dried maca hypocotyls can be eating. Before eaten, the hypocotyls need to be boiled in water to obtain a soft item which can be consumed as juice, the most regular type of use.

The boiling procedure seems to increase active metabolites. In fact, increased temperature level impacts the availability of several secondary metabolites in plants often increasing some metabolites and in others a reduction in metabolites is observed. In maca, among the essential constituents is glucosinolates. These substances are sensitive to heating. Other metabolites, however, are increased after heating. For instance, heating decreases the activity of epithiospecifier protein and boosts development of sulforaphane, a derivative of isothiocyanates and glucosinolates, in broccoli.

After 2, 15, and 30 min of heating at 88 ° c, the vitamin c material of raw tomato drops significantly. Yet, the material of translycopene per gram of tomato increases. Additionally, antioxidant activity also increases after heating up tomatoes.


Maca is characterized by an overground and an underground part. The overground part is little and flat in look. This seems to be the outcome of an adjustment process to prevent the impact of strong winds. The underground part is the hypocotyl-root axis.

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

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

Uses & efficiency

Inadequate proof to rate effectiveness for …

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

Male infertility early research study reveals that taking a specific maca product (maca gelatinizada la molina, labs hersil, lima, peru) daily for 4 months increases semen and sperm count in healthy men. But it’s unclear if this leads to enhanced fertility.

Postmenopausal conditions. Research study recommends that taking maca (maca powder healthychoices, murwillumbah, nsw, australia) daily for 6 weeks somewhat enhances high blood pressure and some aspects of mood, including anxiety and stress and anxiety, in postmenopausal females. But benefits are extremely small.

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

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

Advantages of maca root

Assists the body manage stress

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

What adaptogens may do (maca consisted of) is help stimulate the body’s tension security system by balancing the body’s hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (hpa) axis, according to dr. Shah. The hpa axis is responsible for how the main nervous system and hormonal agent systems react to stress. When we feel stressed out, cortisol levels increase. But scientific research studies on rats show consuming maca can assist keep cortisol levels from increasing.

May help with anxiety

A 2014 study of mice discovered a link in between consuming maca for 6 weeks and increased dopamine levels, resulting in decreased sensations of anxiety. Registered naturopathic doctor cassie wilder, n.d., says this connection is likely due to maca’s adaptogenic nature. “when people are more resistant to tension and are better able to handle everyday stress factors, their state of mind improves,” she states. So if you’re continuously seeming like you’re “on edge,” routinely consuming maca could potentially help– although more human studies need to be done to verify the connection between maca and state of mind.

Might result in increased energy

One common factor individuals consume maca is for a caffeine-free energy boost. “while scientific research studies have not been able to show precisely how maca increases energy in the body, it does appear to have energy-producing results in some individuals,” states dr. Koffler.

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

There are likely a couple of various factors regarding why we don’t understand exactly how maca impacts energy levels in the body, says integrative medicine doctor siri chand khalsa, m.d. “there is a lot that’s connected to how stimulated we feel; it’s not simply something,” she says, adding that it’s very hard to pinpoint one herb to energy considering that many other lifestyle aspects also play a role.

Might assist with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause

Dr. Wilder advises maca frequently to females in perimenopause or menopause. “what scientific literature programs is that maca supports the body during this stage of life without changing estrogen levels,” she states.

While more research study is needed, a small study found menopausal females who took in maca experienced less hot flashes and night sweats than they did when not consuming it.

Benefits your bones

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

” maca assists make bones harder,” discusses dr. Wilder, adding that this trait is especially noteworthy since females 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 important for bone health– but there is still a connection there.”.

May increase sex drive

All 4 professionals state enhancing sex drive is among maca’s most well-known residential or commercial properties, a connection developed by various clinical studies. “maca has actually been said to have aphrodisiac residential or commercial properties and, once again, this is without altering hormonal agent levels,” states dr. Wilder, adding that this response could be related to maca’s link to decreasing stress, aiding with mood and a subtle energy boost.

May assist with male fertility

Here’s a maca advantage particularly for guys: dr. Koffler states consuming maca is connected to producing a greater sperm count. “guys are continuously producing new sperm, so this is especially noteworthy in regards to fertility,” she states. Contributing to this significance is the fact that infertility cases stem just as much from male infertility issues as they do from women infertility issues. [5]

May help relieve symptoms of menopause

Menopause takes place naturally in people who menstruate. It’s the time of life when menstrual periods stop completely.

The natural decrease in estrogen that takes place throughout this time can cause a series of signs, a few of which individuals might discover unpleasant. These consist of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep issues, and irritability.

Some studies suggest that maca may benefit people who are going through menopause by assisting ease some symptoms, including hot flashes and cut off sleep.

A 2011 review that consisted of 4 high quality research studies found some proof that maca treatment has favorable impacts on menopause signs.

Other prospective health benefits

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

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

May help maintain cognitive function.

rodent research studies have actually demonstrated that maca helps improve cognitive function and motor coordination and might assist slow age-related cognitive decline.

May advantage benign prostatic hyperplasia (bph).

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

May benefit skin health.

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

Is it safe?

When taken by mouth: maca is likely safe for many people when consumed in foods. Maca is perhaps safe when taken in larger quantities as medicine, short-term. Doses up to 3 grams everyday seem to be safe when considered approximately 4 months.

Unique preventative measures & cautions:

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

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

Possible adverse effects

Little is understood about the security and risks of short-term or long-term use of maca. Because it is a natural food, it is normally believed to be safe in large doses.

Maca’s result on hormone levels is badly understood. For example, some research studies have actually discovered no impact on sex hormonal agents, while animal research studies have reported higher levels of luteinizing hormonal agent, progesterone, and testosterone.

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

  • Breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Thyroid disease
  • As with many other supplements, maca hasn’t been tested for safety 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 forms including powder, liquid, tablets, and capsules. Many business website recommend a daily dosage of 1 dried maca extract 450 mg pill 3 times daily taken orally with food.

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

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

Pregnancy/ lactation

Avoid usage during pregnancy and lactation due to lack of safety and efficacy data.


None well recorded.

Adverse responses

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


No adverse reactions were reported in an animal research study with rats fed maca extract in doses up to 5 g/kg, comparable to an intake of 770 g of hypocotyls in a 70 kg male.

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

What are the side effects of taking maca?

Noted negative effects of maca consist of transformed menstrual cycles, altered state of mind, cramping, difficulty sleeping, and stomach inflammation. However, these adverse effects are not well documented. One case of extended menstrual bleeding has been reported in a female discovered to have elevated testosterone levels following supplementation with maca. The lady had actually been taking one teaspoon of maca powder liquified in milk everyday to enhance energy levels and sex drive. Bleeding surpassed cessation of maca supplementation.

Does maca interact with any other drugs?

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

Extra considerations:

Taking maca might affect certain lab test outcomes. Testosterone lab results may not be precise following supplementation with maca. Make certain your healthcare provider understands you are taking maca before checking these laboratory tests. [11]

Maca root: are there any preventative measures?

Here at vegkitchen, we’re big fans of maca root, and want to make certain to cover all our bases. Maca, a root that belongs to the radish family, is most typically offered in powder type and thought about a superfood instead of a supplement. Discover more about the benefits of maca, and get back at more information by exploring our frequently asked questions about maca root.

In its long history of use, maca has actually shown no unfavorable negative effects or toxicity, nor have actually there been cases of overdose. Maca’s basic safety has actually been confirmed by the nationwide institute of health in a study. You can read more about the topic at the maca group.

Just like all good ideas, maca ought to be used in moderation, balanced with other natural foods. For example, it’s fantastic in quinoa-maca breakfast bowls.

General preventative measures

Indigestion: some maca users have actually reported stomach upset, heartburn, and indigestion, though this isn’t a typical event. Though unpleasant, these results aren’t hazardous and will pass. If maca disagrees with you to such an extent, listen to your body and don’t use it! There are other superfoods to check out, for example, hempseed, which might be more reasonable 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 cooked, which alleviates those substances. If you have thyroid concerns, you should seek advice from a signed up diet professional before utilizing maca. Traditional mds are less most likely to be familiar with it.

Jitters: if you’re simply starting to utilize it, or use too much simultaneously for your body weight, maca can make you feel tense or wired, almost like caffeine may (though maca does not include caffeine). since maca is energizing, this is quite possible. If this takes place, simply minimize the quantity you’re taking.

Insomnia: just like jitters, it’s important to bear in mind that maca is stimulating. If you discover it hinders sleep, take it early in the day.

Maca powder and root.

Pregnancy and lactation

Here’s a location where there’s argument pro and con, and the authors and contributors to this book aren’t in a position to decide. Talk about the matter with your professional if you’re pregnant or lactating, and wish to begin or continue taking maca. Little official research has actually been done on the security of taking maca during pregnancy.

Some healthcare professionals think it’s safe to take throughout the entire pregnancy, while others mention the possible risks of selecting to do so.

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

Other practitioners stress that maca might raise testosterone levels in the expectant mother to a degree that’s not preferable. In a lot of 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 caution, and talk to your specialist and/or signed up dietician prior to making a decision. [12]


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