Maca – root with a healthy effect?

The root of Maca is touted as a remedy for many ailments. The powder of the dried root is said to help in particular with sexual problems and infertility. In the following article you will find out what the maca plant is really all about and how the effect of capsules,  tea , drops or tablets with extract or powder from maca can be assessed.

What is Maca?

Maca (Latin: Lepidium meyenii) is a hardy Andean plant that withstands intense sun, strong winds and extreme cold. It is also known as Peruvian ginseng and belongs to the cruciferous family. As a powder, capsules, tea or in other forms of application, the natural remedy is said to have numerous effects on health.

Maca: using the root

Maca is traditionally used as a food and medicine in its South American homeland. The lower section of the stem of the plant, the so-called hypocotyl, is used in particular. For the sake of simplicity, this is usually referred to as a root or tuber, even if this term is not strictly correct.

This root can be dried or boiled and eaten as a porridge, for example. The dried and then ground Maca root is available in Germany in the form of food supplements. In addition to powder, you can also buy capsules, tablets,  coffee  (Maca coffee) or tea with Maca in stores. A liquid extract from the root is offered in the form of drops. In addition to being taken directly, Maca can also be processed in this way. For example, the powder can be stirred into  smoothies  or muesli.

Red, Yellow or Black Maca Powder – What’s the Difference?

Depending on the color of the root, maca is called black, red, yellow, or purple maca. The reason for the coloring are different amounts and combinations of secondary plant substances that occur in the root. There are also said to be differences in taste depending on the colour, with yellow Maca powder often being preferred.

Maca: nutritional values ​​and ingredients

Maca is considered a  superfood  and is said to be rich in healthy ingredients and nutrients. For 100 grams of dried Maca roots, the following nutritional values ​​​​are given:

  • 59 grams of carbohydrates
  • 10 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fat
  • 8.5 grams  of fiber
  • 10 grams of water

The most common  amino acids found in Maca  are:

  • Glutamate
  • arginine
  • Leucine
  • Aspartate
  • Answer

Minerals, vitamins & co.

Other ingredients that are found in appreciable amounts in Maca include the  minerals :

In addition, the Peruvian tuber should be able to shine with various vitamins, especially from the group of B vitamins, as well as with healthy fatty acids.

Phytochemicals in Maca

Maca root contains various secondary plant substances:

  • Lepidilins, Macaene and Macamide are considered unique to Maca and are found exclusively in the Maca plant.
  • Beta-sitosterol, campesterol and ergosterol are plant sterols (phytosterols).
  • Glucosinolates are precursors of the mustard oils that are characteristic of cruciferous plants, which also include cress or horseradish.

Basically, numerous secondary plant substances are said to have a health-promoting effect on the body.

What is maca good for?

In folk medicine, the maca root is said to have a positive effect on a number of health problems in men and women. There is even some debate as to whether different colors, such as red, yellow, or black maca, can have different effects. This may be due to the composition of the ingredients involved in the coloring.

Maca is most commonly used to treat the following ailments:

  • decreased libido in both men and women
  • erectile dysfunction
  • difficulty having an orgasm
  • imbalanced endocrine system
  • infertility
  • menopausal symptoms
  • high cholesterol
  • difficulty concentrating
  • hair loss

What does maca do for women?

The Maca tuber is said to have a balancing effect on the woman’s hormone system and thereby alleviate symptoms of  menopause , such as  hot flashes  and mood swings. Maca is also  said to drive away sleep disorders  and also help to increase libido.

What does maca do for men?

The effect in men is said to extend to different sexual functions. These include, among other things, an improvement in mild erectile dysfunction, an increase in libido and better fertility through better sperm quality.

Maca: another effect of the plant

In addition to the effects that relate specifically to men and women, the following properties are attributed to Maca:

  • Promotion of muscle building
  • Improvement in concentration and performance
  • Lowering blood cholesterol levels
  • Alleviation of digestive problems
  • balancing effect on the psyche
  • Promotion of hair growth

Effect of Maca: What is it?

The effect of Maca has so far been examined in only a few scientific studies on humans and is therefore insufficiently researched. In addition, the studies carried out do not correspond to current scientific standards. This means that the data are mostly incomplete – for example, the side effects were not documented – or they are contradictory. In addition, too few people took part in the studies to make a general statement.

In concrete terms, for example, it could not be proven that Maca has an influence on the amount of sex hormones in men, such as testosterone. The statement that a root extract called Radiancyl should help with hair loss and thinning hair is not scientifically proven either, but is based on the studies of a cosmetics company.

In summary, there is initial imprecise evidence that maca can have effects on the sexual organs and their function in humans and animals, but the scientific evidence is lacking. The intake of Maca powder & Co. is therefore subject to numerous uncertainties.

What side effects does Maca have?

The data on possible side effects of Maca is poor. The scientific studies carried out so far have not revealed any undesirable effects. Past experience shows that the consumption of maca is safe and tolerable in most cases. However, side effects such as  diarrhea , headache, restlessness and  high blood pressure have also been  reported.

It also remains unclear whether maca is harmful to the liver. The results of a study in people with metabolic syndrome indicate that maca can increase liver AST (aspartate aminotransferase) and blood pressure. In order to clarify these connections and to prove the safety of Maca, however, well-founded scientific studies are required.

What should be considered when taking it?

When purchasing Maca products, it should be noted that Maca is now also being cultivated in China due to the high demand as a dietary supplement. However, the ingredients and pesticide load in plants grown in the Andes may differ from those cultivated in China. As a result, the effect of Maca products is not always the same. If you buy products of certified organic quality, you can rule out exposure to pesticides.

As with all dietary supplements, the recommended dosage should not be exceeded. Therefore, always observe the consumption recommendation. It is also advisable to seek medical advice before taking Maca.

When not to take Maca?

In the case of a proven  iodine deficiency  , care should be taken not to consume large quantities of foods with a certain content of mustard oils, such as cabbage vegetables, radishes, mustard, cress and also maca. Because mustard oils can lead to the formation of a goiter if there is a simultaneous iodine deficiency.

In addition, there is no information available on the consumption of maca tubers during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Therefore, the use of Maca should be avoided during this time.

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