What Are the Health Benefits of Maca?
Maca root is gaining in popularity around the world for its nutritional and aphrodisiac properties. Peruvian growers of maca once used it in trade as a form of payment. If you are having trouble getting pregnant, suffer from general fatigue or erectile dysfunction, or desire extra athletic performance, you may well benefit from using maca.
Maca’s scientific name is Lepidium meyenil, and it is commonly called Peruvian ginseng even though it is not a ginseng. It is a relative of the turnip and radish and is native to Peru and Colombia. The roots have been used for thousands of years by the Incas for their medicinal properties. According to Chris Kilham, founder of Medicine Hunter, Inc., maca was once used by Inca warriors to provide strength before battle. After battle, the warriors were not permitted to use maca, in order to keep their libido in check around the conquered women.
Maca contains calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin C, fiber, protein and fatty acids that improve your brain function and benefit your nervous system. It also improves fertility and libido in men and women as well as balancing your hormones. Maca has been proven to increase semen and strengthen bones and your immune system, and is used as a healthy alternative to steroids to increase athletic performance. If you suffer from menopause, maca may reduce your symptoms.
Toss a heaping tablespoon of powdered maca root into the blender, add papaya, condensed milk, egg, honey and vanilla to make a daily nutritional shake, states Kilham. Take a 900mg capsule of pure maca root extract three times a day with meals or boil pure maca root and drink as a tea, according to the Epigee website. Kilham recommends taking six to ten 500mg dried maca root capsules daily, or more for maximum results.
Maca is a perennial plant that is often grown annually, has scalloped leaves that grow close to the ground and small, off-white flowers. The tuberous root “is pear-shaped, up to 8cm in diameter and off-white in color,” states Herb.com. The “roots have a tangy taste and smell like butterscotch.”
As maca root is considered a vegetable, there are no well-documented negative side effects or toxicity associated with its consumption in normal quantities. Talk with your health care provider to ensure there are no drug interactions or complications with any health conditions. Talk with your health care provider if you plan on replacing hormone replacement therapy with maca root or if you are pregnant or nursing.