In the West, maca has made its appearance in the natural health products scene in the past several years. Although it is still not as mainstream in the Western world as other medicinal plants like Korean Ginseng, its obscurity is slowly changing.
In more savvy health food stores, you can purchase maca as a powder in a sachet, powder in capsules or as a liquid extract.
Maca is not currently associated with any health risks in most people and is unlikely to cause any side effects in moderate doses.
However, due to its effect on hormones, it is best that people with thyroid problems should avoid its consumption. It is also best to avoid using maca when undergoing treatments that modify hormonal levels, such as breast cancer treatments.
Maca has a range of potential health benefits, particularly for sexual health.
THE BENEFITS OF MACA USE
1. Maca ~ A Libido and Sexual Enhancer
Maca is most well-known for its potential to increase libido / sexual desire. And there is scientific evidence to support this.
- A 12-week double blind placebo-controlled study in 2002 reported an increase in sexual desire in healthy, adult men taking 1.5 or 3 g of maca daily as compared with men tested with a placebo.
- An 2010 review on maca and sexual function provided some evidence that maca could improve libido. However, the researchers suggested that while, results are encouraging, more tests and research would be useful.
- A study in 2015 reported the possible efficacity of maca root in reducing sexual dysfunction in post-menopausal women who were currently taking antidepressants.
2. Maca ~ Can Help Reduce Erectile Dysfunction in Men
Men suffering from Erectile Dysfunction (ED), may be in for a treat with maca. Maca has shown benefits in its use for male ED.
A 2009 study put males with mild ED on 2.4g of maca root daily for a period of 12 weeks. They were monitored on their perception of general and sexual well-being.
Men on the maca root dosage experience a significant increase in sexual well-being as compared to those men put on a placebo.
3. Maca As A Fertility Booster
Maca is used to help increase fertility.
Believers in the efficacy of maca to boost fertility claim that the chances of pregnancy increase if both partners take maca. One of the ways it makes pregnancy more likely is by increasing sperm counts and sperm mobility..
A review in 2016 reported evidence that the use of the maca root increased the quality of semen in both fertile as well as infertile men. Ongoing research is still required.
Note: Pregnant women should avoid consuming maca
4. Maca As A Blood Pressure Reducer
High blood pressure is the scourge of men with ED. HBP reduces the flow of blood to the penile area, thus preventing penile erection.
Can consuming maca help lower blood pressure? Studies report that native populations who use maca suffer fewer high blood pressure problems. Due to its rich potassium content, this is a boon for ED men.
2015 pilot study showed that maca helped reduce blood pressure issues in post menopausal women.
5. Maca as An Immune System Booster: A tablespoon of maca powder a day keeps the doctor away.
Maca powder is very rich in protein. It may contain up to five times as much protein as do potatoes. Consequently, many natural health experts suggest that a regular and continued intake of maca may boost one’s immune system.
Thus, maca may
- Help the body to repair damaged tissues.
- Increases one’s resistance to many kinds of illnesses from the common cold to potentially life-threatening diseases.
6. Maca Fights Free Radicals
Maca root promote natural antioxidants in the body, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Antioxidants are necessary to fight off free radicals which can damage body cells.
7. Maca As Prime Nutrition
Maca is plentiful in vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of
- Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, and E.
- It contains good quantities of iron
People who are vegetarians or vegans can benefit from the high amount of protein found in maca.
In a single ounce of maca powder (28 grams) there are:
- 20 grams of carbs
- 4 grams of protein
- 85% of copper RDI (recommended daily intake)
- an amazing 133% vitamin C RDI (recommended daily intake)
8. Maca: An Energy and Endurance Booster
Certain bodybuilders and athletes have started using maca root to boost their energy, endurance and performance.
A 2009 pilot study tested long-distance male cyclists for improved performance in a 40-kilometre time trial with maca extract. However, the placebo group showed similar results to the maca extract group.
Interestingly, this same study found that the group of cyclists using the maca extract experienced improved libido, as compared to the placebo group.
More research is required, as the study was a small one.
9. Maca As A Mood Enhancer, Anti-Depressant
Maca contains flavonoids. These chemicals help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, thus aiding in improving one’s mood.
A 2015 pilot study found that maca helped reduce blood pressure and depression in postmenopausal women. These women were given 3.3g of maca daily for 12 weeks.
While we still lack conclusive proof, it seems that this plant helps to moderate feelings of anxiety and depression. Studies done on rats indicate that maca might have an antidepressant role.
10. Maca helps Strengthen Bone Structure; Prevent Osteoporosis
The advocates of a wider use of maca powder draw attention to how it can improve both bone density and strength. In this way, it might prevent individuals at risk from developing osteoporosis. The high levels of vitamins it contains are essential to healthy bone development. In particular, it is a valuable source of the calcium vital to a strong bone structure.
11. Maca Helps Reduce Sun Damage
Maca may help give protection of your skin from the sun-damage of harmful UV rays, as tested in rats. In another animal test, maca leaves may be useful in preventing the formation of sunburn cells.
To this end, its use is best applied to the skin, instead of ingestion.
12. Maca for Learning and Memory Improvement
In Peru, some parents give their children maca in the belief that it enhances their intellectual abilities, so they do much better at school.
Scientists have experimented using maca on rats to see if this improves their memory. A 2011 study reported that maca improved the memory in mice.
A later 2014 review of the literature suggested that maca could be beneficial in aiding people in their learning and memory performances. As such, the researchers were hopeful that maca may be helpful in the treatment of memory/brain illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.
Maca comes in various colours; the black variety seems to deliver the most noticeable memory improvements in the scientific experiments.
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