What Is Maca?
The maca plant, known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng.
It mainly grows in the Andes of central Peru, in harsh conditions and at very high altitudes — above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable and therefore related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru.
The main edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground. It exists in several colours, ranging from white to black.
Maca root is generally dried and consumed in powder form, but it's also available in capsules and as a liquid extract.
Maca root powder is very nutritious and is a great source of several important vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
Maca has been heavily marketed as being effective at improving sexual desire, and this claim is backed by research
A review from 2010 that included four randomized clinical studies with a total of 131 participants found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of ingestion.
There is some evidence that maca root increases men's fertility
A recent review summarized the findings of five small studies. It showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men. One of the studies reviewed included nine healthy men. After consuming maca for four months, researchers detected an increase in the volume, count and motility of sperm
Maca can be very helpful at menopause, the natural decline in oestrogen that occurs during this time can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms. These include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep problems and irritability. One review of four studies in menopausal women found that maca helped alleviate menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep. Additionally, animal studies suggest that maca can help protect bone health. Women have a higher risk of osteoporosis after menopause
Several studies have shown that maca can enhance your mood. It's been associated with reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression, particularly in menopausal women.
Maca root powder is a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes. It has been claimed to help you gain muscle, increase strength, boost energy and improve exercise performance. Also, some animal studies indicate that it enhances endurance performance.
Moreover, one small study in eight male cyclists found that they improved the time it took them to complete a nearly 25-mile (40-km) bike ride after 14 days of supplementing with maca extract.
Maca may improve brain function. In fact, it has traditionally been used by natives in Peru to improve children's performance in school. In animal studies, maca has improved learning and memory in rodents that have memory impairment.