About Maca Root


Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in 1. About Maca Root | Posted on 10-05-2011

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Lepidium meyenii, known as Maca, is a root-like vegetable shaped like a radish that grows high in the harsh climate of the Andean Mountains in South America at elevations up to 15,000 feet. It is one of the few plants that can be cultivated in the harsh climate of the Andes. For more than five  millennia, native Peruvians have used it as food and medicine, to promote endurance and improve energy, vitality, sexual virility and fertility. (2)

The growth habit, size, and proportions of maca are roughly similar to those of the radish and the turnip, to which it is related. The green, fragrant tops are short and lie along the ground. The thin frilly leaves are born in a rosette at the soil surface, and are continuously renewed from the center as the outer leaves die. The off-white, self-fertile flowers are borne on a central raceme, and are followed by 4–5 mm siliculate fruits, each containing two small (2-2.5 mm) reddish-gray ovoid seeds. The seeds, which are the plant’s only means of reproduction, germinate within five days given good conditions. The seeds have no dormancy, as Maca’s native habitat remains harsh year-round. (3)



Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in References | Posted on 10-05-2011

  1. http://www.veganforum.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2112.html
  2. http://www.raysahelian.com/maca.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidium_meyenii
  4. Kilham, Christopher (2000). Tales from the Medicine Trail: Tracking Down the Health Secrets of Shamans, Herbalists, Mystics, Yogis, and Other Healers. [Emmaus PA]: Rodale Press
  5. Valentova, K.; Ulrichova J. (2003). “Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii – prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases”. Biomedical papers of the Medical Faculty of the University Palacký, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia 147 (2): 119–30.
  6. Skyfield Tropical: Free Online Botanical Encyclopedia “http://www.skyfieldtropical.com/encyclopedia/maca/” Maca (lepidium peruvianum): Botanical Characteristics
  7. http://www.rain-tree.com/maca.htm
  8. http://www.naturalnews.com/028782_maca_Incas.html
  9. The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005
  10. http://www.various-home-remedies.com/maca-root.html. Various Home Remedies
  11. http://www.natural-remedies-review.com/benefits-of-maca-root.html. Benefits of Maca Root

Medicinal Properties of Maca


Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in 5. Medicinal Properties | Posted on 10-05-2011

If you have heard that Maca root is a sexual enhancer, you heard right. Maca is known as a natural aphrodisiac. It has the ability to stimulate and enhance the libido. P-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate is the chemical that is said to be responsible for the aphrodisiac effect.

Taking Maca root extract normalizes testosterone, progesterone and estrogen levels because it triggers the pituitary glands that control the ovaries and testes to secrete the hormones. It has the potential to treat impotence and fertility issues. Clinical tests done on rats showed that Maca reduced enlarged prostate glands. There isn’t any confirmation yet if it will work on men.

Studies showed that it is helpful for women with PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome. Because of its estrogenic effect, this herbal extract helps regulate the menstrual cycle. Trials done found that Maca is able to control estrogen imbalance and is effective in treating and relieving menopause symptoms. (10)

In Peruvian herbal medicine today, Maca is reported to be used as an immunostimulant; for anemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility (and other reproductive and sexual disorders); and to enhance memory. Maca has been growing in world popularity over the last several years due to several large U.S. marketing campaigns touting its energizing, fertility enhancement, hormonal balancing, aphrodisiac, and, especially, enhanced sexual performance properties. Other (anecdotal) herbal medicine uses in the U.S. and abroad include increasing energy, stamina, and endurance in athletes, promoting mental clarity, treating male impotence, and helping with menstrual irregularities, female hormonal imbalances, menopause, and chronic fatigue syndrome. (1)

The table below summarizes some of the many benefits of consuming Maca. The number of leafs is an indicator of how much evidence has been shown for each benefit. (11)


Detailed Evidence of Benefits of Maca Root

Libido Enhancer/ Boost Sex Drive

Several quality research studies in male and females show that it increases libido.

In one research study done on human subjects on 2008 by C.M. Dording CM et al., the researchers concluded that the herb “may also have a beneficial effect on libido.”

In another study by G.F. Gonzales et al. in 2002, his research team came to the conclusion that this libido enhancement effect is not associated with any increase in testosterone levels in human subject. It “has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment”.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Research studies show that it improves erectile function in rats.

In double-blinded research study done by C.M. Dording et al (2008), the researchers found that, “Maca was well tolerated. Maca root may alleviate SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction, and there may be a dose-related effect.”

There is a number of clinical studies that show it works to treat erectile dysfunction.

Fertility Enhancement in Males

In one study done on rats by J. Rubio et al. in 2006, it prevented the effect of a toxin (lead) on damaging and reducing sperm production. It concluded that it may become “a potential treatment of male infertility associated with lead exposure.”

In a 4 month study in human male subjects conducted by G.F. Gonzales in 2001 “resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculation, motile sperm count, and sperm motility.”

Menopause Symptoms

One small study showed that taking this herb resulted in less psychological symptoms including anxiety and depression, and lowers sexual dysfunction.

This benefit was not because of changes in hormone levels in the postmenopausal women.

Energy Enhancement

Randomized clinical trials have shown that Maca has favorable positive effects on energy and mood.

Increase Sperm Count

Many research studies showed that it increases the sperm count significantly in rats. This would lead to increase fertility in animals with lower sperm counts.

One research study in rats done by M. Gasco in 2007 revealed that “it seems to act as a modulator of sperm count at the reproductive tract level.” The effect on sperm count appeared as quickly as in one day.

Fertility Enhancement in Females

In one study by A.C. Ruiz-Luna in 2005, it significantly increased the uterine weight and the number mice produced by pregnant rats. We have no studies in humans to confirm this.

Enlarged Prostate

Research studies show that it significantly shrinks enlarged prostate in rats.


Studies in rats show that it significantly improves glucose tolerance (which leads to diabetes) and reduces the amount of glucose in the blood.   

High Cholesterol

Studies in rats show that it significantly lowers total cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol (LDL or low density lipoproteins) and VLDL (very low density lipoproteins, a type of fat).   

Memory Enhancement

In a study done in rats by J. Rubio in 2007 showed that it improves memory functions.


Research studies show that it seems to inhibit and slow down cancer cells growth in animal studies.


Studies showed that it has can significantly reduce feelings of depression in experimental rats.


In animal studies, it was able to prevent bone loss due to the lack of estrogen (such as would be found in post-menopausal women).


How to Prepare Maca


Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in 6. Maca Preparations | Posted on 10-05-2011

Today, dried Maca root is ground to powder and sold in capsules as a food supplement and marketed to increase stamina (sexual and athletic) and fertility. In the Andes, as much as a pound of fresh and/or dried Maca root is eaten as a food in a single day. In herbal medicine in the U.S., dried Maca root tablets, capsules and powders are generally recommended at dosages of 5-20 g daily. The dried root powder (a more economical choice than tablets or capsules) can be stirred into juice, water, or smoothies (2 tsp. of root powder are about 5.5 g). For standardized and concentrated extract products, follow the labeled instructions. (7)

Maca is also prepared as an extract in concentrated amounts, which can be used sublingually, or added to beverages.

Nutritional Makeup of Maca


Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in 4. Nutritional Makeup of Maca | Posted on 10-05-2011

Dried Maca is approximately 60% carbohydrates (starches and sugars), 9% fiber, and slightly more than 10% protein. It has a higher lipid (fat) content than other root crops (2.2%), of which linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid are the primary fatty acids, respectively.

Maca is also a rich source of plant sterols, including sitosterol, campestrol, ergosterol, brassicasterol, and ergostadienol. From a mineral standpoint, Maca exceeds both potatoes and carrots in value, and is a source of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine. (8)

A chemical analysis conducted in 1981 showed the presence of biologically active aromatic isothiocyanates (a common chemical found in the mustard family of plants and shown to be a wood preservative and insecticide). Chemical research shows Maca root contains a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which has reputed aphrodisiac properties. At least four alkaloids are also present but have not yet been quantified. Fresh Maca root contains about 1% glucosinolates-plant chemicals found in many plants in the family Brassicaceae (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables). While no novel glucosinolates have been reported in Maca yet, several of the chemicals found in this group of known plant chemicals are documented to be cancer-preventive.

Maca’s main plant chemicals include: alkaloids, amino acids, beta-ecdysone, calcium, carbohydrates, fatty acids, glucosinolates, iron, magnesium, p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, phosphorus, potassium, protein, saponins, sitosterols, stigmasterol, tannins, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc. (9)

Nutritional Profile of Dried Maca Root
(Average 10 gram serving)
Component Amount   Amino Acids Amount   Minerals Amount
Protein 1-1.4 g   Alanine 63.1 mg   Calcium 25 mg
Carbohydrates 6-7.5 g   Arginine 99.4 mg   Copper 0.6 mg
Fats (lipids) 220 mg   Aspartic acid 91.7 mg   Iron 1.5 mg
Fiber 850 mg   Glutamic acid 156.5 mg   Iodine 52 mcg
Ash 490 mg   Glycine 68.3 mg   Manganese 80 mcg
Sterols 5-10 mg   Histidine 41.9 mg   Potassium 205 mg
Calories 32.5   HO-Proline 26.0 mg   Sodium 1.9 mg
      Isoleucine 47.4 mg   Zinc 380 mcg
      Leucine 91.0 mg      
Vitamins Amount   Lysine 54.5 mb   Fats/Lipids Amount
      Methionine 28.0 mg      
B2 39 mcg   Phenylalanine 55.3 mg   Linoleic 72 mcg
B6 114 mcg   Proline 0.5 mg   Palmitic 52 mcg
C 28.6 mg   Sarcosine 0.7 mg   Oleic 24.5 mcg
Niacin 565 mcg   Serine 50.4 mg      
      Threonine 33.1 mg      
      Tryptophan 4.9 mg      
      Tyrosine 30.6 mg      
      Valine 79.3 mg      

Tribal and Herbal Medicinal Uses of Maca


Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in 3. Tribal and Herbal Medicinal Uses of Maca | Posted on 10-05-2011

To the Andean Indians and indigenous peoples, Maca is a valuable commodity. Because so little else grows in the region, Maca is often traded with communities at lower elevations for such other staples as rice, corn, green vegetables, and beans. The dried roots can be stored for up to seven years. Native Peruvians traditionally have utilized Maca since pre-Incan times for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. It is an important staple in the diets of these people, as it has the highest nutritional value of any food crop grown there. It is rich in sugars, protein, starches, and essential nutrients (especially iodine and iron). The tuber or root is consumed fresh or dried. The fresh roots are considered a treat and are baked or roasted in ashes (in the same manner as sweet potatoes). The dried roots are stored and, later, boiled in water or milk to make a porridge. They also are made into a popular sweet, fragrant, fermented drink called Maca Chicha. In Peru even Maca jam, pudding, and sodas are popular. The tuberous roots have a tangy, sweet taste and an aroma similar to that of butterscotch. (7)

This energizing plant is also referred to as Peruvian ginseng (although Maca is not in the same family as ginseng). Maca has been used for centuries in the Andes to enhance fertility in humans and animals. Soon after the Spanish conquest in South America, the Spanish found that their livestock was reproducing poorly in the highlands. The local Indians recommended feeding the animals Maca; so remarkable were the results that Spanish chroniclers gave in-depth reports. Even colonial records of some 200 years ago indicate that payment of (roughly) nine tons of Maca was demanded from one Andean area alone for this purpose. (7)

Cultivation of Maca


Posted by aboutmaca | Posted in 2. Cultivation | Posted on 10-05-2011

Maca is traditionally grown at altitudes of approximately 4,100–4,500 meters (13,500–14,800 ft) elevation. It grows well only in cold climates with relatively poor agricultural soils, habitats where few other crops can be grown. Like many cruciferous root vegetables, Maca can exhaust soils that are not well tended. Nearly all Maca cultivation in Peru is carried out organically, as there are few pests naturally occurring at such high altitudes, and Maca itself is seldom attacked. Maca is sometimes interplanted with potatoes, as it is known to Maca farmers that the plant itself naturally repels most root crop pests. Maca croplands are fertilized mainly with sheep and alpaca manure, and are often rested for a period of years to rebuild nutrients in the soils. 8 to 10 months elapse between sowing and maturity for harvest. The yield for a cultivated hectare is approximately 5 tons.[citation needed] Maca is typically dried for further processing, which yields about 1.5 tons total. Although Maca has been cultivated outside the Andes, it is not yet clear whether it develops the same active constituents or potency. Hypocotyls grown from Peruvian seeds do not form well in lowlands or greenhouses. (3)

For approximately 2,000 years, Maca has been an important traditional food and medicinal plant in its limited growing region, where it is well-known and celebrated. It is regarded as a highly nutritious, energy-imbuing food, and as a medicine that enhances strength, endurance and also acts as an aphrodisiac. (4) During Spanish colonization, Maca was used as currency. (5)

Recently, specific color strains have been exclusively propagated to ascertain their different nutritional and therapeutic properties. Cream colored roots are the most widely grown and are favored in Peru for their enhanced sweetness and size. Blue and black Maca are considered the strongest in energy-promoting properties, being both sweet and slightly bitter in taste. (6) Red Maca is also becoming popular with many people, and has been clinically shown to reduce prostate size in rats. These three ecotypes are the most commonly grown and exported. (3)