Maca

Background

Maca, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, is also referred to Maca root or/ and Peruvian Ginseng which has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac and to boost fertility and sex drive.  It is, actually, a plant in the broccoli family and the maca root resembles a turnip. Since maca has historically been grown in Peru, the majority of research on maca comes from Peru. Though maca is usually used to stimulate sex drive and alleviate symptoms of erectile dysfunction, it has nootropic properties and has efficacy to protect the brain from damage, improve bone health, and even improve cognitive ability in healthy people.[1]

Benefits

Maca is a natural source of healing nutrition and has a long history of being a safe super food which has been consumed for its health benefits for thousands of years in regions of the Andes Mountains. It’s also considered as an adaptogen that helps your body naturally adapt to stressors.[2]
Maca is an interesting supplement that is usually used as an aphrodisiac and used all over the world by both men and women for its effectiveness for sexual performance. It is interesting because it does not work through hormones, and does not increase testosterone or estrogen. Still, it is interestingly used to boost fertility and sex drive. Men who have supplemented maca have been known to experience an increase in sperm production. It also appears to be a powerful suppressor of prostate hypertrophy, with potency similar to finasteride, a synthetic drug for the treatment of enlarged prostates.[1]
Maca can also provide numerous therapeutic benefits which include:

  • Improves cognitive function[3]
  • Improves learning and memory [4]
  • Boosts energy and stamina [5]
  • Improves mood [6]
  • Improves female sexual health [7]
  • Has an antioxidant and neuroprotector effect [8]
  • Balances hormones [9]
  • Enhances male fertility and sex drive [10]
  • Eases symptoms of menopause and menstrual imbalance [11]
  • Improves sexual function in both men and women [12]
  • Increases bone density markers [13]
  • Reduces blood pressure and depression [14]

How it works

Maca root contains many chemicals, including fatty acids and amino acids. However, the mechanism of action of maca is not fully understood how it works to as an aphrodisiac and fertility booster. Maca doesn’t contain plant hormones and doesn’t work by enhancing levels of sex hormones like testosterone or estrogen, straight. It may work by normalizing steroid sex hormones like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. In this way, it improves the ratios between your sex hormones.
Some points to consider about maca: Maca is used for its capacity to improve memory, maca has antioxidant activity, black maca shows the greatest effect on cognitive function, black maca showed acetylcholinesterase (Ache) inhibitory activity and no effect on monoamine oxidase (MAO) levels in male animal, and ovariectomy is a female animal model that induce memory impairment related to an increased oxidative stress and cholinergic and MAO dysfunction.[15]

Considerations

Maca is likely safe and well tolerated by most people. Due to maca’s effects on hormone levels, you are advised not to consume maca if you rely on hormone-altering medications for the treatment of illnesses like breast cancer or prostate cancer or for other serious conditions. You are also advised to avoid maca if you have high blood pressure, or you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Recommendations

The appropriate dose of maca depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. There is still not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for maca (in children as well as in adults).
The common and standard dose for maca is 1,500-3,000 mg or 1.5g to 3g daily.
Speak to your doctor to determine the right dosage for you.

Sources