Maca – Wonder Fertility Herb For Male and Female
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root-like cruciferous vegetable from the Andes of Peru. It grows in some of the harshest farmlands in the world, where the soil is rich in volcanic minerals, experiencing freezing temperatures, fierce winds and intense sunlight . Maca is the only plant known in the world that can grow and thrive at such high altitude and in such harsh weather. For more than two millennia, native Peruvians have used maca root as food and medicine to promote fertility, endurance, energy, vitality, and sexual virility.
Maca is such a nutrient-rich food that it contains a number of different vitamins, 31 different minerals and 60 different phytonutrients (some of which include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, fiber, and also amino-acids). In English Maca is also known as maca-maca, ayak, pepperwood, Peruvian ginseng and quechua; in Spanish it is known as maino; in Quecha it is known as ayak chichira, ayak willku or maca maca.
Maca is supportive of overall fertility health in a number of ways and complementary to most natural fertility programs.
Maca has been scientifically researched for the use of increasing fertility since 1961 and has been shown to contain specific compounds called glucosinolates which directly can affect fertility for both men and women. These alkaloids are responsible for maca’s ability to support hormonal balance.
10 Reasons Why Maca is Beneficial to Fertility Health
1. Nourishing to the endocrine system – Alkaloids in Maca have been shown to have
an affect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis of which the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands are a part, and which are each involved in hormonal balance.
3. Libido and vitality, including sexual function (supporting erectile dysfunction and cervical mucus production) – Maca has aphrodisiac qualities and supports an increase in blood flow to the pelvic region which in turn may increase sexual desire in both men and women; “increasing vaginal secretions in women and enhancing testosterone levels in men.”
4. Energy and stamina – Maca provides the body with a natural energy due to its high carbohydrate levels. Maca is comprised of 60% carbohydrates, primarily from starches and sugars.
5. Follicle health – Maca may help to stimulate the maturation of follicles within an ovary (in animal studies).
6. Egg Health – Maca offers a plethora of nutrients to support health of the body on a cellular level, but also healthy hormonal balance which contributes to healthier eggs.
7. Sperm quality, sperm count per ejaculation and healthy sperm motility – Studies show an improvement in all three of these areas of sperm health. The resulting effects are thought to be due to Maca’s ability to support hormonal balance where it is needed, additionally the nutrients it provides to the body that supports cellular health.
8. Immune health & stress response – Maca is an adaptogen which as a class of herbs are helpful for those with immune-related fertility issues. Immunological fertility problems cause the body to identify part of its reproductive function as an enemy and as a result sends Natural Killer (NK) cells to attack. Maca aids the body in proper immune response.
9. Menstrual cycle & endometrium health – The health and normalcy of the entire menstrual cycle may be supported by Maca as a result of Maca’s ability to promote hormonal balance, nourish the endocrine system (which controls hormone function) and increase blood flow to the pelvic region. Maca supports healthy menstruation, the endometrial lining and ovulation.
10. Thyroid health – Some reports show that 10 grams (g) of Maca root contains 52 micrograms (mcg) of iodine with darker roots containing more iodine than lighter roots. Iodine is an essential nutrient for proper thyroid function. Maca has a balancing effect on and nourishes the hypothalamus (which “controls, stimulates and balances the other endocrine glands: pituitary, adrenals, ovaries, testes, thyroid and pancreas”) and as a result of this action, Maca may in turn help those with thyroid issues.
Legends tell a number of stories about Maca consumption…
- -Inca warriors ate Maca to increase their energy before going into battle.
- -Maca was prohibited at one point to protect women from the Maca-induced, heightened sexual desires of these Inca Warriors.
- -Animals showing signs of exhaustion, being barron and general lethargy, were brought to the region where they were rejuvenated and once again bore offspring after eating Maca.
… and I am sure there are many more.
Research and interest in Maca continues to increase worldwide. “Studies are being carried out in Peru and other countries to determine the mechanism(s) by which Maca supports fertility and libido. Researchers are examining various sexual parameters including erectile function, sexual appetite, performance, frequency of copulation, ejaculatory volume, sperm motility and fertility. Maca is also used in Peruvian folk medicine to treat symptoms of menopause.”
This all-encompassing, nourishing fertility superfood proves to be supportive alone, but also in combination with most natural fertility programs.
How to Use Maca
When purchasing maca you want to make sure the product you are using has only maca root in it, not leaves or stem. Maca is available in powder, capsules or tincture. It is also available in varying strengths.
Maca powder: Maca powder comes in two forms. Plain maca powder that is just powdered maca root or gelatinized maca. Gelatinization is a completely vegetarian process that removes the starch from maca to improve assimilation and increases the concentration.
Maca capsules: Maca capsules are a convenient way to get maca daily. Many people will find using the maca capsules to be easier since they can be taken at any time with some water.
A tincture of maca root is a liquid extract of the medicinal properties of maca. Maca tincture is can be taken with water, in juice or added to smoothies.
General suggested usage is 2000-3000 mg a day. To obtain desired results, maca needs to be taken regularly. It can be taken in one dose or through out the day.
Safety & Side Effects
Maca is a beneficial herb that has been used for thousands of years and consumed everyday as a food and medicine by the Peruvians. Based on its long history of use as a food it appears to be very safe. Toxicity studies (conducted at Product Safety Labs of East Brunswick, N.J.) showed absolutely no toxicity and no adverse pharmacological effects.
In a small amount of women, some using plain maca root (not gelatinized) experienced stomach upset. Some women experience spotting or a change in their menstrual cycle when they first begin using maca. This is normal and a sign that the body is beginning to balance the hormonal system.
Maca Use During Pregnancy
As a safety precaution most manufacturers state that their supplements should not be used during pregnancy. There have been no studies on the use of maca during pregnancy. Acute toxicity studies and cytotoxicity evaluations have demonstrated absence of any evidence of potential toxicity of maca.
The Peruvians have been consuming maca as a food for thousands of years. Since there have been no studies on the use of maca during pregnancy we can not state that it is proven safe to use during pregnancy. Please do your own research and make a personal decision on the use of maca during your pregnancy.
As you can see from all the actions maca can have on the body, it is a wonderful fertility superfood and tonic. Maca can complement any fertility program and should be used on a daily basis for best results. It can also be used in conjunction with other fertility herbs and supplements.