adaptogen hormone balance libido maca maca root Mar 18, 2021

The Maca plant is part of the Brassicaceae family, so it’s botanically related to broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower (a.k.a cruciferous vegetables).

This vegetable is native to the Andes, in Peru.

While all parts of the plant are edible, it is the root that is considered a superfood. 

The root has been used as food and medicine in Peruvian culture for centuries. Maca root contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that have a balancing effect on the body. It is considered an adaptogen because it helps the body adapt to stress.

According to The Maca Team, LLC, “The high amino acid content of maca plants (which includes arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, phenylalanine, serine, threonine, tyrosine, and valine) is likely responsible for many of the profound health benefits offered by organic maca powders.

These essential amino acids are responsible for several crucial human biological processes, including the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and noradrenaline, both of which support mood and sexual health.”[1]

Maca is generally found in dried powder form and is available in health shops, larger grocery stores and online.

The rich malt-like-flavour of maca tastes divine when brewed alone or with cacao (another well-loved superfood). 

Maca can be added to smoothies, overnight oats, and even into porridge and stews to help improve stamina and boost energy.

Many people are now using Maca as a substitute for their morning coffee! 

Let’s explore Maca in a little more detail so you can decide for yourself if it’s a right fit for you.

  

1. It is a great source of nutrition[2].

This root is a nutrient powerhouse! It is high in protein, fibre, Vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium, B6, and manganese. Maca is also a good source of riboflavin and niacin. The amino acids profile in maca may be behind the exceptional health benefits (see the note above).  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and every cell in the body needs them.

 

2. Maca regulates hormones.

The nutrients in Maca nourish and support the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, also known as the master glands in the body.[3]  Incredibly, Maca also reduces blood sugar and blood pressure [4]

3. Eases stress and supports the body.

As mentioned earlier, Maca root belongs to a category of substances known as adaptogens.  Adaptogens help the body respond better to stress and illness while they gently restore balance.  While caffeine in coffee boosts energy, it may stress the adrenal glands out, whereas the nutrients in Maca boost energy while supporting the adrenals! The adrenals are responsible for regulating cortisol and adrenaline, which are our major stress hormones.

 

4. It may boost sexual desire.

Maca helps to increase libido and sexual desire. This natural aphrodisiac has also been shown to increase sperm count!  It can also increase libido in women who have gone through menopause.

5. Maca eases menopausal symptoms.

The Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine completed a review of 17 major medical databases and found that all of the studies done on maca and menopause showed that maca eases menopausal symptoms in women.  While the researchers could not conclude that Maca effectively treats menopausal symptoms, their findings prompted a call for further research into the exciting benefits of maca root in menopause[5]

 

6. Maca root eases depression and anxiety.

This beneficial root is also known for stabilising mood by alleviating anxiety and depression as it has an antidepressant effect on the user when included as part of a healthy diet.[6]

 

7. It eases migraine headaches.

By balancing progesterone and estrogen levels in the body, maca reduces the severity of migraine headaches triggered by hormone fluctuations.  This may help to reduce future migraines in the long term. Some research also shows that maca is neuroprotective.[7]

 

8. It supports the immune system.

Maca root is also capable of supporting the immune system, helping to  protects against recurrent infections.

 

It might be tempting to add maca to everything now that you’ve read about all its amazing health benefits. However, there are some things to take note of before you do:

 

  • Women on HRT should talk to their doctors about using maca. It may be possible to replace some or all of your estrogen dosage with maca, but please do so under a doctor’s supervision.

 

  • If you’re a breast cancer patient: Women taking tamoxifen or other estrogen blockers, and people who have had breast cancer should discuss the use of maca with a doctor, because it raises estrogen levels.

 

  • If you’re at risk for breast cancer: Men or women with a strong history of breast cancer should discuss maca use with a doctor first.

 

  • If you’re on thyroid medication: Work with your doctor to monitor your thyroid activity.

 

  • If you’re pregnant: Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take maca as a general precaution.

If you’re just starting out with maca: Begin with a small dose and increase from there. One half-teaspoon daily in the first week is a good place to start. Increase this amount to one teaspoon per day as your body becomes accustomed to the supplement.

If you notice any side effects such as breast tenderness or aggression, reduce your dose and monitor how you feel. It may take a few weeks to find the dose that’s right for you.”[8]

 

[1] https://www.themacateam.com/gelatinized-maca-powder-how-its-different

[2] https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2193874/0

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614604/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718534

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840656

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18784609

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20633111

[8] https://yurielkaim.com/8-maca-benefits/

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