Maca: Is it really a wonder drug?
Does maca really increase libido (for men and women), ease menopausal symptoms, and reduce stress?
Lab research, clinical experience, and personal anecdotes all say yes. Here’s your quick-read guide on the pros and cons of Maca.
What is it?
Maca is a root vegetable similar to a turnip that Peruvians have grown and harvested in the high elevations of the Andes for over 2,000 years. In addition to adding Maca to the whole family’s regular diet, Peruvians also supplemented their livestock’s diet with it in order to increase fertility and yield.
What does it do?
Lots! First, it’s an adaptogen, which means it keeps company with plants like Ginseng and Holy Basil: herbs that increase your body’s overall being and hardiness against disease and the effects of stress. Second, it supports the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid, pancreas, adrenals, and sex hormones. And, third, as a hormone regulator, it’s be shown to increase fertility and enhance libido in both sexes (some even calling it “nature’s Viagra”).
Wait, Nature’s Viagra?
Yes! Many studies have either shown conclusive or promising results for Maca’s efficacy in enhancing sexual function in men. A 2002 study proved how men treated with Maca in a double-blind study showed an increase in sexual desire, while an additional trial in 2009 concluded that Maca had “a small but significant effect on subjective perception of general and sexual well‐being in adult patients with mild ED” (Erectile Dysfunction).
In addition, there is science to back up the practice by Peruvian highland men to eat Maca on a regular basis when they are trying to conceive with their wives. A 2000 study showed increases in sperm count in animal studies, while more recently, a 2016 review suggests that Maca showed promising results for improving sperm quality.
What about Women?
The libido support does not just help men! Because it works on the endocrine system, Maca helps contribute to healthy thyroid and ovarian function. And because it works to restore hormone balance, it can benefit women of all ages. For women trying to conceive, a 2014 study showed that Maca supplementation had a significant impact on the increase of the hormone responsible for ovulation. And for women experiencing menopause, many have seen relief from their symptoms with Maca. In addition, among all age groups, symptoms of depression can decrease, while energy and libido increase.
Note: Unlike estrogenic herbs (i.e. Black Cohosh, for example), Maca doesn’t contain any hormones, but instead supports the body produce a balanced amount of hormones.
Any other benefits?
Maca showed promise in a 2007 study for aiding the body’s absorption of glucose and reducing its effects on the body’s blood sugar levels.
Maca is nutrient-dense and those on blood thinners may be better off avoiding it because of the high vitamin K content. And a talk with your doctor is advised if you are pregnant, nursing, undergoing HRT, or if you have high blood pressure.
How Should I Take it?
The most popular forms of Maca are in capsules and powder form. For those who already make shakes and smoothies, Maca powders can prove to be a convenient addition, otherwise capsules are the most popular form. Dosing can vary greatly and is most dependent on your reasons for taking Maca. Sourcing is always key, especially when so many brands have jumped into the game.
Here are the brands that we confidently recommend to our customers:
Effects on Sexual Function & Male Fertility:
Blood glucose levels:
Effects on Women’s Fertility: