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Maca May Help Improve Your Reproductive Health

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola
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November 29, 2018

Story at-a-glance

  • Maca contains amino acids, minerals, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and many other compounds that can provide the body with wholesome benefits
  • Maca is famous for its effects on the reproductive health of both men and women, so much so that it’s been dubbed “Peru’s Natural Viagra”
  • Research has revealed that maca may help women address symptoms caused by either menstruation or menopause, and work as an adaptogen, antidepressant and anxiolytic

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a cruciferous herb that is often compared to a turnip or radish because of its appearance.1 Also called Peruvian ginseng,2 this plant was first documented in the Peruvian Andes, where the Incas used it as a stamina and strength booster for their warriors.3 At one time, only the elite and the royals were permitted to consume this herb.

Today, the maca root is utilized in different parts of the globe. Maca extract is now valued as a liquid extract or tincture or as a nutritional supplement because of its impressive nutrient content. It contains amino acids, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and many other compounds that can provide the body with wholesome benefits.4

Maca for Men: Improving Sexual Drive and Fertility

Maca has been called "Peru's Natural Viagra" because of its strong effect on male sexual drive and stamina.5 As an aphrodisiac, maca has the ability to boost libido and endurance in males,6 even in people who are affected by impotency and infertility.7

In an animal study, it was observed that daily intake of maca helped improve and preserve spermatogenesis. It has also been found out that maca generally protects prostate health by increasing zinc levels and helping convert testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).8

Studies also revealed that ingesting maca helped improve the quality, quantity and motility of the sperm of both fertile and infertile men. It does not directly affect or increase the amount of testosterone in the male body, but it normalizes the production of hormones.9

For Women, Maca May Help Regulate Menstruation and Ease Menopause Symptoms

Maca can be used by women as a supplement to boost sexual drive.10 Lack of sex drive in women can be caused by numerous factors, such as a decrease in hormone production, fatigue, intake of certain medications, relationship problems and illness.11 However, while it has been proven that maca helps in improving sexual drive, it is still not clear on how it's able to yield this kind of result.12

According to numerous sources, maca is an adaptogen, a natural substance that helps you deal with different stressors.13 This may be one of the reasons why maca may help address decreased sex drive. Additional research also showed that women who added maca to their diet were able to ease menstruation-related pain and cramps14 and had improved fertility.15,16 Maca helps regulate women's menstruation cycles as well.17

Maca may help address menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and loss of libido.18 It is also being used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).19 Instead of introducing external hormones into the body, maca works to help balance the estrogen and progesterone levels.20

Other Maca Root Benefits

Maca is famous for its aphrodisiac effects, but its benefits are not limited to this. It contains numerous vitamins and minerals that provide you with more than a healthier sex drive.21 Here are some of the benefits that you can get when you add maca to your diet:

How Do You Use Maca?

Because of the increasing demand for maca, different forms of this herb have been introduced to the market:29

Be aware of the proper guidelines when taking maca products so you can reap its benefits without the side effects. Learn the ideal ways to incorporate maca in your lifestyle by reading "Maca Is Good for More Than Your Mojo."

Grow Your Own Maca and Reap Exciting Benefits

Maca was originally grown in the Andes, where the temperatures reach below 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C). It is a very tolerant plant that can survive cold temperatures, poor soil conditions31 and drought.32 The maca plant yields a root that's off-white, yellow or purple, and produces leaves that grow close to the ground and flowers with four small and white petals.33

To grow a maca plant you need to gather seeds from the roots.34 It's typically grown as an annual, although it's a perennial,35 and requires well-drained and alkaline soil and full sun. According to "Rodale's 21st Century Herbal," try planting maca in the early fall, so it'll produce crops in the winter.36

Try These Maca Powder Recipes

While maca is usually taken as a supplement, it is also added to smoothies and other food recipes to provide a unique nutty flavor. Here are some tasty and healthy recipes that you can try:

Seedy Chocolate, Banana and Maca Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

Procedure

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into your blender and blend on high for 30 to 60 seconds until smooth and creamy.
  2. Consume immediately, as the maca flavor intensifies when left to sit.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

This recipe makes 2 16-ounce glasses.

(Recipe adapted from The Blender Girl37)

Golden Milk Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups coconut milk or raw grass fed milk
  • 3 to 4 drops stevia or raw honey or add sweetener of your choice
  • Fresh vanilla beans (optional)
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt (optional)
  • Cardamom (pods)

Procedure

  1. Warm coconut milk on the stove on low heat.
  2. Add the spices and stevia or sweetener and continue to stir with a wooden spoon, or whisk until all the spices are well-combined and the milk is hot.
  3. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.

Total time: 10 minutes

This recipe makes 1 serving

Recipe adapted from New Nostalgia38

Maca Side Effects You Should Look Out For

While maca root has not been directly linked to serious side effects, you should still exercise caution if you plan to use this extract, as certain side effects have been noted during the first few days of taking maca-based products. Side effects to watch out for include:

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid intake of maca because there is little research concerning its potential adverse effects on these groups of women.42

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Sources and References

  • 1, 19 Maca!: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator, 2003
  • 2, 28 Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes, 2013
  • 3 Popular Science, June 20, 2002
  • 4, 17, 29 The Pure Power of Maca, October 10, 2016
  • 5, 12 Andrologia, 34: 367-372
  • 6 BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010; 10: 44. Published online 2010 Aug 6
  • 7 Andrologia, 41: 95-99
  • 8 J Endocrinol. 2004 Jan;180(1):87-95
  • 9 Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 324369. Published online 2015 Sep 1
  • 10 The Complete Guide to Natural Healing …, June 23, 2017
  • 11 Mayo Clinic, February 15, 2018
  • 13, 23 Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, 2009
  • 14 Live Raw Around the World: International Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty, July 1, 2013
  • 15 Ethnomedicinal Plants: Revitalizing of Traditional Knowledge of Herbs, February 1, 2011
  • 16 Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 151, Issue 2, 2014, Pages 897-902
  • 18 Int J Biomed Sci. 2005 Jun; 1(1): 33–45
  • 20 How to Conceive Naturally: And Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30, October 20, 2015
  • 21 Kitchen Cures: Revolutionize Your Health With Foods That Heal, August 20, 2013
  • 22 J Med Food. 2014 May 1; 17(5): 535–542
  • 24 Heal and Ignite: 55 Raw, Plant-Based, Whole-Food Recipes to Heal Your Body and Ignite Your Spirit, January 23, 2017
  • 25 Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Sep; 17(9): 1521. Published online 2016 Sep 9
  • 26 I Love Superfood Smoothies: With Over 100 Fast, Delicious and Healthy Recipes, April 19, 2016
  • 27 BBC Good Food, February 8, 2018
  • 30 Drugs, January 16, 2018
  • 31, 33, 34, 35 Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, June 1, 2010
  • 32 Functionality of Food Phytochemicals, December 6, 2012
  • 36 Rodale's 21st-Century Herbal: A Practical Guide for Healthy Living Using Nature's Most Powerful Plants, April 29, 2014
  • 37 The Blender Girl, February 25, 2013
  • 38 New Nostalgia, "Golden Milk"
  • 39 Let's Get Natural With Herbs, 2007
  • 40 The Blender Girl Smoothies: 100 Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Paleo-Friendly Recipes, June 30, 2015
  • 41 The Pure Power of Maca, October 10, 2016
  • 42 WebMD, "Maca"
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