Maca Root was never something on my radar. Honestly, I didn’t know even know what it was until it was recommended to a friend of mine by her doctor. She had long been struggling with infertility issues and she was advised that maca root is a safe, plant-based option to try and help her conceive.
I was intrigued by this information immediately. I’d known plenty of women in my life who struggled with infertility and wondered how I’d never heard of this natural remedy before. During a quick search, I learned that maca root can help with more than just fertility issues.
Maca root is said to aid a large range of problems from low sex drive to endurance, hormonal issues, hypothyroidism and immunity.
All that with an added power-packed punch of vitamins and minerals and I’d say you have yourself something to write home about.
All over the internet you’ll see maca referred to as a “superfood.” The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states, “Experimental scientific evidence showed that maca has nutritional, energizer, and fertility-enhancer properties, and it acts on sexual dysfunctions, osteoporosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, memory and learning, and protects skin against ultraviolet radiation.”
When discussing the benefits of maca root powder with a friend recently, he also asked me if it might help with weight loss. That was an answer I wasn’t sure of at the time but I’ve since done some research I’d like to share with you. Let’s start at the beginning.
What is Maca Root?
Lepidium meyenii, more commonly known as Maca root or Peruvian Ginseng, is a plant in the broccoli family.
The root of this plant looks very similar to a turnip. It’s been harvested for over 2000 years high in the Andes Mountains of Peru between 12,000 and 14,000 feet in altitude. That alone speaks to the hardy and unique nature of this plant.
The maca plant is known for its interesting taste. Many people don’t mind the flavor however some prefer to mask it with other ingredients. According to the Maca Team, maca generally has the taste of caramel or a malt-like flavor.
Types of Maca
There are 3 different types of maca – red, yellow, and black. Each has its own health benefits and a slightly different taste.
While all three have pretty similar health benefits, different varieties are recommended for different issues.
Red Maca is said to be the sweetest and most mild. Yellow maca is the least sweet and black is somewhere in between.
If you just can’t stomach the taste of maca, the Maca Team suggests some great some ways to help cover it up, such as:
- Taking it with liquid as a shot, to help get it down more quickly
- Take it in capsule form so you can just swallow without tasting it
- Mix maca and cinnamon into your coffee or rice milk
Is Maca Healthy?
Dr. Josh Axe tells us that “maca root powder is comprised of approximately 18% protein, 76.5% carbohydrates, 5% fat, and 8.5% fiber (indigestible carbohydrates).” There is an amazing amount of power in these bad boys. Dr. Axe goes on to tell us that the other ingredients of maca include:
- Amino acids and free-form fatty acids
- Vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E
Serving sizes vary. You can try a tablespoon per day to start and then add in 1-2 more tablespoons throughout the day. Some people like it before exercise because of the energy burst you may get. It’s said that in the mountains of Peru, locals might consume up to a pound of dried or fresh maca daily.
What are Maca Powder Benefits and Does it Help Weight Loss?
Maca powder is proven to have a boatload of health benefits for every user. Across the board, maca has benefits for people of any age or gender.
There are some very specific benefits for men versus women. Below are some of the amazing benefits of maca powder. Read on and let me know what you think!
Maca for Weight Loss
While there appears to be little evidence that maca root by itself will help with weight loss, there are many who believe that the naturally stimulating effects of maca will encourage exercise and movement which, as we know, can of course lead to weight loss.
“The Thyroid Diet Revolution: Manage Your Master Gland of Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss”, mentions that maca is an “adaptogenic herb that can help with increasing energy in the body. This natural stimulant may speed up the metabolism, burning more calories and creating weight loss over time.”
Sounds like the effects of maca on the body definitely give it a strong suit for helping with weight loss. While sitting around on your butt isn’t going to make that happen, moving around with your newfound energy will likely do the trick!
Maca for Men
In studies with rats, maca has actually been found to increase sperm production. This is such amazing news for anyone struggling in this area – and it’s natural too!
If you think a higher sperm count is the most exciting news, think again. Not only does maca help with sperm count, it’s also been found to help with motility of sperm. If you are a male struggling with infertility, hearing that you can make those swimmers a little more mobile is wonderful news for you.
As men age, they run a high risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is a fancy term for an enlarged prostate. This unfortunately can be a precursor to prostate cancer.
If you haven’t already guessed, according to studies, maca root can actually help decrease the size of an enlarged prostate. According to NCBI, red maca prevented prostatic hyperplasia, yellow maca had intermediate effects, and black maca had no effect at all. It is theorized that the polyphenols in red maca are what help in the reduction of prostate enlargement.
Move over doggies, sounds like maca root is a man’s new best friend.
Maca for Women
Maca has been shown to help regulate the menstrual cycles of women who suffer from irregular periods. While that alone is a wonderful benefit, in the same women it was also found to reduce the heaviness of their flow and lessen PMS symptoms and pain.
While that all sounds nice, women seem to be most excited about the possibilities of maca helping with infertility.
According to WebMD, the author of Hot Plants, Chris Kilham, says, “Maca enjoys a very long history of successful medicinal use for menopausal discomfort, infertility, and sexual healing. The question is not whether it works–because we know it works with certainty–but how it works.”
Dr. Viana Muller, co-founder and President of Whole World Botanicals, has found that women start taking maca for a variety of reasons; however the results are similar across the board. Patients experience:
- Better energy levels
- Fewer sugar cravings and better blood sugar levels
- Improved sleep
- Improved bladder function
- Cessation of heart palpitations
Dr. Muller has also spoken with lots of women who deal with uterine fibroids. Other medications helped but did not get rid of the fibroids. “Once they started on organic maca root powder or capsules the fibroids dissolved in two to three months.”
Of course this is purely anecdotal evidence so your mileage may vary but it’s worth a shot, right?
Maca for Sexual Arousal
While there hasn’t been enough research done on maca root in general, some randomized clinical trials did find a “significant positive effect of maca on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in healthy menopausal women or healthy adult men.”
Furthermore, self-rated sexual desire scores improved and another randomized clinical trial showed effects on the “subjective perception of general and sexual well-being.”
As a mom who is growing older and busier with each passing year, I definitely wouldn’t refuse something that might give me more energy and more interest in sex when I need it!
Maca for Depression and Anxiety
The energizing effects of maca are said to help lessen feelings of depression and anxiety.
A study published in the journal “Menopause” found that maca consumption produced a significant reduction in anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction compared with both baseline and placebo.
A lot of studies have been carried out on the effects of maca in postmenopausal women. Some women decreased their anxiety by over half in just 6 weeks on a maca regimen.
This is amazing, isn’t it? How is all this goodness coming from this one little root in this crazy high place on earth?
Maca for Hypothyroidism
Maca root is said to stimulate your thyroid which is great news for hypothyroidism sufferers. If you are experiencing weight gain due to an underactive thyroid, it makes sense that maca root may help with weight loss in this instance.
Dr. Viana Muller, co-founder and President of Whole World Botanicals, explains that she’s spoken to several women who had underactive thyroids along with menopausal symptoms. After taking maca for just two to three months, they had felt an increase in energy, felt better in general and were able to lower their thyroid medication.
Remember to always consult with your physician before taking maca in raw or supplemental form. Taking too much can reverse the benefits. It’s said that maca may react negatively with certain medications.
Does Maca have side effects?
Drugs.com states that there has been no evidence of adverse reactions with maca and that “its long-time use as a food product suggests low potential for toxicity.”
WebMD goes on to state that “maca is likely safe for most people when taken in amounts found in foods. Maca is possibly safe when taken by mouth in larger amounts as medicine (up to 3 grams daily) for up to 4 months. Maca seems to be well-tolerated by most people.”
Keep in mind that maca claims and supplement facts have not been reviewed or approved by the FDA. Its safety may be evidenced in the fact that millions are using it without the report of adverse effects.
As with all natural remedies, if you have a long term illness or take a prescription medicine, make sure to check with a healthcare professional before trying maca root powder.
The Last Word
Can I get a round of applause for maca root over here? I mean seriously. This root vegetable is blowing my mind. I think I’m feeling the effects just talking about it! Let’s review for a minute.
Maca root is found in the high mountains of Peru. It’s known to help with a whole list of ailments and conditions, including but not limited to:
- Anxiety and depression
- Sperm count
- Enlarged prostate
- Weight loss
- Sexual arousal
- PMS symptoms and pain
- Uterine fibroids
If you mix all these benefits together with the fact that it can also increase your stamina and energy, then I’d say trying maca might put you on the road to fantastic and optimal health.
And to answer my friend’s question, “Does maca help with weight loss?” I’d have to say it’s likely. While it doesn’t directly make you drop weight, the increased energy you might feel from it could cause more movement and activity, promoting weight loss over time. Can’t hurt to try it, right?
I’m sold. I actually got my latest shipment from Amazon yesterday and am plopping it into my morning smoothie now.
Have you ever tried maca yourself? Are you going to try it? I’d be surprised if anyone reading this post chooses not to! The benefits are incredible. It’s truly amazing hearing about all the conditions it can help with. Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve personally tried it. Please comment below and share!
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
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