Miracle Maca: Can This Ancient Herb of The Andes Balance Your Mood?

Maca — the Peruvian plant with claims of boosting your mood, reducing anxiety, and even helping with menopause. If you’ve got a curious mind and want to know how much scientific truth is behind its supposed benefits, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive in.

The superfood and adaptogen, maca

What is Maca?

Maca is a root vegetable known as Lepidium meyenii and has been used in Peru for centuries. It grows high in the Andes, covering both Peru and Bolivia.

In addition to its formal name, it is sometimes called Peruvian ginseng.  In ancient Peruvian times, it is believed maca was used as a remedy for a wide range of health conditions. 

What is Maca Used For?

Maca is typically used as a health food. It’s easy and flavorful to throw a scoop of it into your daily smoothie. You could also make a delicious maca latte from it where you combine maca, coffee, cocoa powder, milk, and a sweetener of choice (why not superfood honey?).

It is often advertised to be a powerful superfood that can be used to boost energy or reproductive health. Maca is more often consumed for these health benefits than its flavor but that does not mean it tastes bad! It has a unique butterscotch and nutty kind of flavor that makes for really tasty smoothies, lattes, and baked goods.

Tip: Combine maca with other superfoods and adaptogens for superb energy and focus

Maca is great on its own but there’s a lot of symbiotic benefits of combining several different superfoods. For example, a few teaspoons of maca mixed well into a cup of oolong tea will give you much greater energy than maca would on its own, while still only consuming a third of the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Making you own concoctions can—however—be time consuming. Well, we’ve created the perfect blend of maca along with 18 other AMAZING superfoods. And best yet…our superfood tea takes seconds to make! If feeling tired and less productive in the noontime, NoonBrew is the perfect beverage to give you a calm, sustained energy and focus.

What are the Proven Benefits of Maca?

Not just loved for its nutty butterscotch-esque flavor, maca has a lot of health benefits you might not expect.

Mood and Energy Booster  

Perhaps the most promising benefit of using maca is how it could affect your mood.  Several studies have shown that the use of maca can have a positive impact on both anxiety and depression. There certainly needs to be more research on this subject, but there are some well done studies showing positive effects.

One study was done in 2016. It was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a sample size of 175 people—living at both high and low altitudes. Those who took maca saw an improvement in their mood, energy and HRQL (healthy related quality of life. A metric gauging one’s happiness and satisfaction). It even helped those living at higher altitudes with altitude related illness.[4]

29 postmenopausal women participated in a 2015 study based in Hong Kong to see the effects of maca. The biggest finding of this study was a significant decrease in depression as well as diastolic blood pressure.[7]

In addition, maca contains naturally occurring iron and iodine, which aids your thyroid health and can have an impact on your energy[6]

Decreased Stress

Maca is classified as both an adaptogen and superfood. The keyword in adaptogen is “adapt”. An adaptogen is a substance that will help your body better “adapt” to stress.

There’s research to suggest that adaptogens are effective in treating chronic stress. Also, different adaptogens have their own benefits. Maca is known for energy and mood. Another one, Ashwagandha, is extra effective against stress and is able to reduce anxiety.

Menopause Symptom Relief and Balancing Hormones

Research has shown that maca has positive effects in balancing hormones, especially for pre-menopausal women.[12] Another study provided similar results and also concluded that a benefit of maca’s ability to balance hormones is a relief of menopausal discomfort.[13]

Improved Sexual Function

A common use for maca is to improve various sexual problems in a natural way. It’s used for libido, fertility, an ancient aphrodisiac, and even erectile dysfunction.

It appears quite effective for increasing ones libido. A study from 2010 with 131 participants showed very promising results in increasing libido.[9] Another one in 2015 that was exclusively done on women (sample size of 65) also had pretty striking results.[10]

Another sexual function benefit of maca is to boost fertility in men.  A systematic review has suggested that maca could potentially enhance sperm quality.[1]

Another systematic review took a look at several clinical studies around maca and sexual function. They were able to conclude that there’s limited evidence to support maca helping with erectile dysfunction. There’s certainly more research that could be done but there’s a lot of encouraging sexual function benefits around maca.

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Summary

Maca is an age-old Andean superfood and adaptogen. Consider including it in your smoothies, coffees, and teas.

Its main benefits are improving your mood and energy but do not forget the other major draws we’ve mentioned in this article!

References

  1. Lee, MS; Lee, HW; You, S. (2016). The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review. Maturitas, Oct; 92:64-69. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27621241/
  2. Lee, MS; Shin, B; Yang, E, etal. (2011). Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Maturitas, Nov; 70(3): 227-33. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21840656/
  3. Brooks, NA; Wilcox, G; Walker, KZ, et al. (2008). 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. Menopause. Nov-Dec; 15 (6): 1157-62. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18784609/#:~:text=Conclusions%3A%20Preliminary%20findings%20show%20that,of%20estrogenic%20and%20androgenic%20activity.
  4. Gonzales-Arimborgo, C; Yupanqui, I; Montero, E, et al. (2016). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). Aug 18;9(3):49. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27548190/
  5. Dording, CM; Fisher, L; Papakostas, G; et al. (2008). A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. Fall;14(3):182-91. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18801111/
  6. “Association of Iodine and Iron with Thyroid Function” PubMed, 3 Feb. 2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28160243/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  7. “Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women” PubMed, 7 Aug. 2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24931003/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  8. Christiansen, Sherry. “What Are Adaptogens?” 8 Sept. 2022, www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-adaptogens-4685073. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  9. “Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review” PubMed, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20691074/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  10. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411442/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  11. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928177/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  12. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614604/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
  13. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.

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