Maca Benefits

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Maca is a root vegetable belonging to the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables.  It is most similar to radishes and turnips in growth habits, size, & proportions.   Maca is extremely mineral rich with ample amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, potassium, copper & zinc.  These are vitally important for healthy skin, bones, eyes, and joints.   These minerals are also essential for effective cell formation, communication and regeneration.

Maca is one of the highest altitude crops in the world growing atop 8,000-14,500 foot regions of the Andes Mountains in Peru.  In this climate, it faces extreme cold, intense sunshine, powerful winds and challenged agricultural areas.  Due to the challenging climates that maca grows in it doesn't harbor pests and therefore is always grown organically.  In fact, many Peruvian farmers have begun planting it with other root vegetables as the plant naturally repels pathogenic nematodes and other pests. 

Adaptogenic Properties

The 'survival of the fittest' principle of evolution helps us understand the unique benefits maca provides.  Over thousands of years, maca has developed the ability to thrive in some of the worst soil and environmental climates in the world.  Maca has adapted effectively to these stressful conditions and developed certain factors, that when consumed, enhance human adaptability. 

Maca contains adaptogenic properties.  Adaptogenic substances are capable of positively modulating a wide range of body systems, for instance, supporting the nervous system, endocrine system and immune system to allow the body to effectively manage homeostasis under challenging circumstances.  This often results in enhanced energy levels, stamina, mental clarity and the ability to handle oncoming stress. 

Maca contains a certain balance of alkaloid and polysaccharide compounds that help improve control and coordination of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.  These regions are the master regulators of the bodies stress response and reproductive systems.  Through this mechanism it helps stabilize adrenal output and regulate inflammatory hormones like cortisol. 

Balancing Hormones

One of the unique benefits of Maca it its ability to help balance hormones in both men and women.    Studies have found it effective for reducing hot flashes, painful menstrual cramps, improving mood and sexual desire.  It hasn't been demonstrated to consistently increase sex hormone production but instead to modulate and coordinate the role of these hormones more effectively.

A 2008 study published in the journal Menopause showed that about 3.5 grams of Maca per day reduced psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression and lower measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity.  Another 2006 study showed that maca improved cognitive function and reduced depression in surgery induced menopausal rats that couldn't produce sufficient sex hormone.   

Maca has also been demonstrated in several studies to improve libido and fertility in male and female rats.  Many people have blogged their unique anecdotal testimonies of maca improving their sex life and overcoming their struggles with infertility. 

Red maca has been shown in 2 studies to reduce prostatic hyperplasia in testosterone induced male rats.  This demonstrates the glandular modulating effects of maca as it works to balance hormones.   Red and black maca have the greatest anti-oxidant content and therefore the greatest health benefits.    

A 2007 study demonstrates Maca's ability to reduce inflammation at the cellular level.  The results of the study indicated that Maca was effective at improving glucose metabolism, lipid profile and anti-oxidant status.  This improves cardiovascular function and decreases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

A 2006 study showed that Maca was able to inhibit bone loss in an ovarectomized rat.  Typically a lack of the estrogen-secreting ovaries leads to increased catabolic state and subsequent bone loss.  Another study showed a specific extract from Maca (RNI-249) was able to help to preserve cartilage cells by inhibiting catabolic pathways, activating anabolic mechanisms and enhancing blood flow into the cartilage cells. 

References

Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content.  Nicole A Brooks, Gisela Wilcox, Karen Z Walker, John F Ashton, Marc B Cox, Lily Stojanovska.  Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62. PMID: 18784609

Gustavo F Gonzales, Vanessa Vasquez, Daniella Rodriguez, Carmen Maldonado, Juliet Mormontoy, Jimmy Portella, Monica Pajuelo, León Villegas, Manuel Gasco. Effect of two different extracts of red maca in male rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia. Asian J Androl. 2007 Mar;9(2):245-51.

G F Gonzales, M Gasco, A Malheiros-Pereira, C Gonzales-Castañeda. Antagonistic effect of Lepidium meyenii (red maca) on prostatic hyperplasia in adult mice. Andrologia. 2008 Jun;40(3):179-85. PMID: 18477205

Mark J S Miller, Salahuddin Ahmed, Paul Bobrowski, Tariq M Haqqi. The chrondoprotective actions of a natural product are associated with the activation of IGF-1 production by human chondrocytes despite the presence of IL-1beta. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Apr 7;6:13. PMID: 16603065

Yongzhong Zhang, Longjiang Yu, Mingzhang Ao, Wenwen Jin. Effect of ethanol extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp. on osteoporosis in ovariectomized rat. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Apr 21;105(1-2):274-9. Epub 2006 Feb 8. PMID: 16466876

Julio Rubio, Maria Caldas, Sonia Dávila, Manuel Gasco, Gustavo F Gonzales. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Jun 23;6:23. PMID: 16796734

Rostislav Vecera, Jan Orolin, Nina Skottová, Ludmila Kazdová, Olena Oliyarnik, Jitka Ulrichová, Vilím Simánek. The influence of maca (Lepidium meyenii) on antioxidant status, lipid and glucose metabolism in rat. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2007 Jun;62(2):59-63. PMID: 17333395

Ana C Ruiz-Luna, Stephanie Salazar, Norma J Aspajo, Julio Rubio, Manuel Gasco, Gustavo F Gonzales. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) increases litter size in normal adult female mice. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1991 Aug 30;179(1):661-7. PMID: 15869705

G F Gonzales, A Córdova, K Vega, A Chung, A Villena, C Góñez, S Castillo. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002 Dec;34(6):367-72. PMID: 12472620

Christina M Dording, Lauren Fisher, George Papakostas, Amy Farabaugh, Shamsah Sonawalla, Maurizio Fava, David Mischoulon. A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91. PMID: 18801111

 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Sayer Ji
Founder of GreenMedInfo.com

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