What is maca?
Amiclear Ingredient Lepidium meyenii, also known as maca, is a Peruvian plant that is sometimes called Peruvian ginseng. It belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Maca is indigenous to the high plateaus of the Peruvian Andes mountain range, where it has been cultivated by Andean people for over 2,000 years. It is one of the few edible plants that can thrive in the extreme weather conditions above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) in the Peruvian Andes.
Traditionally, Andean people consumed maca as a food, usually in a fermented drink or porridge, and used it as a natural remedy for respiratory conditions and rheumatic disease. Recently, the demand for maca products has increased, particularly due to claims that it can enhance fertility and libido.
Maca root, which is the most commonly used part of the plant, contains amino acids, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It also contains other bioactive compounds such as alkaloids, glucosinolates, macamides, and macaridine, which are believed to be responsible for its medicinal properties.
Although there are claims that maca has numerous health benefits, research on its effectiveness is limited, and the findings have been mixed. Further studies are required to determine the potential benefits of maca.
May increase libido
According to some studies, consuming concentrated maca supplements may benefit individuals with low libido or sexual desire. For example, a 2015 study conducted on 45 women who had antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction found that taking 3,000 mg of maca root per day for 12 weeks significantly improved sexual function and libido compared to those taking a placebo. Another review conducted in 2010, which included four high-quality studies involving 131 participants, revealed that taking maca for at least 6 weeks improved sexual desire. However, the researchers cautioned that the studies reviewed were small, and the evidence was insufficient to draw definitive conclusions.
Although the research on maca is encouraging, it remains unclear whether maca has any actual benefits for treating low libido or sexual dysfunction.
May help relieve symptoms of menopause
Menopause is a natural occurrence in individuals who menstruate, marking the permanent cessation of menstrual periods. During this time, there is a natural decline in estrogen levels, which can lead to a range of symptoms that individuals may find unpleasant, including hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, irritability, and sleep problems.
Studies indicate that maca may be beneficial for those experiencing menopause by helping to alleviate some of these symptoms, such as hot flashes and disrupted sleep. A 2011 review that evaluated four high-quality studies found evidence that maca treatment can have positive effects on menopause symptoms. However, the researchers cautioned that there is not enough evidence to determine the safety or efficacy of maca for treating menopause symptoms.
May improve mood and energy
There is some limited evidence to suggest that maca may be useful in improving energy levels and enhancing mood in certain populations. For instance, a 2016 study conducted on 175 individuals living at either high or low altitudes discovered that taking 3 grams of red or black maca daily for 12 weeks increased energy and mood scores compared to a placebo. Similarly, a 2015 study conducted on 29 postmenopausal Chinese women found that treatment with 3.3 grams of maca per day for 6 weeks reduced depression symptoms in comparison to a placebo treatment. In addition, previous research has suggested that maca may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in postmenopausal women.
Despite maca’s potential benefits on mood and energy levels, the current evidence is insufficient to draw definitive conclusions.