Lepidium meyenii is a root-like vegetable shaped like a radish that grows high in the harsh climate of the Andes 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 two millennia, native Peruvians have used it as food and medicine, to promote endurance and improve energy, vitality, sexual virility and fertility. If you have an interest in increasing energy, an excellent supplement is MultiVit Rx which works better than maca alone.
Human studies with this herb indicate supplementation leads to enhanced sexual desire and may be helpful in women after menopause. This herb can also partially reverse sexual dysfunction that often occurs with the use of SSRI type antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
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Erectile dysfunction benefit research
This study shows that maca root supplements provide a slight improvement in men with impotence.
Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial.
We carried out a double-blind clinical trial on 50 Caucasian men affected by mild erectile dysfunction, randomised to treatment with maca dry extract, 2400 mg, or placebo. After 12 weeks patients experienced a more significant increase in sexual satisfaction. Our data support a small but significant effect of maca supplementation on subjective perception of general and sexual well-being in adult patients with mild erectile dysfunction.
Reversing SSRI induced sexual
I am often concerned using an herbal aphrodisiac along with prescription medications, but this study did not seem to indicate any untoward interactions.
A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root for the management of SSRI induced sexual dysfunction.
CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008.
We conducted a double-blind, randomized, parallel group dose-finding pilot study comparing a low-dose (1.5 g/day) to a high-dose (3 g/day) maca regimen in 20 remitted depressed outpatients with SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. The Arizona Sexual Experience Scale and the Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Function Questionnaire were used to measure sexual dysfunction. Patients on 3 grams a day had a significant sexual improvement but subjects on 1.5 g/day did not. It was well tolerated. Maca root may alleviate SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction, and there may be a dose-related effect. This herb may also have a beneficial effect on libido.
I was not sure if the subjects were still on the SSRI medication when they were started on the maca supplement, so I emailed Dr. Christina Dording, MD in 2009 and she was kind enough to reply, "Thank you for your email. Subjects stayed on their SSRI dose for the duration of the study." Best, Christina Dording, MD.
Sexual desire increase studies
A human study confirms the rodent findings. Researchers at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, in Lima, Peru, performed a 12-week double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial in which active treatment with different doses of maca was compared with placebo. Men aged 21-56 years received 3 grams. An improvement in sexual desire was observed at 8 weeks of treatment. Serum testosterone and estradiol levels were not different in men treated with maca than in those treated with placebo.
Maca root improves sexual behavior in male rats independently from
its action on spontaneous locomotor activity.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2001.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of acute and chronic Maca pulverised root oral administration on rat sexual behavior. Sixty male sexually experienced rats (20 group) were daily treated for 15 days. Both acute and chronic oral administration significantly improve sexual performance parameters in male rats.
Influence on hormone levels,
testosterone and estrogen
A study was designed to determine the benefit of a 4-month oral treatment with tablets of maca on seminal analysis in adult normal men aged 24-44 years old. Nine men received tablets of maca (1500 or 3000 mg/day) for 4 months. Serum luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, testosterone and estradiol levels were measured before and after treatment. Treatment resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculation, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not altered.
Effect of Lepidium meyeni, a root with aphrodisiac
and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in
adult healthy men.
J Endocrinol. 2003.
This maca study was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of maca Gelatinizada was compared with a placebo. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that maca has no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels in apparently healthy men when administered in doses used for aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. Men aged between 21 and 56 Years received 1500 mg or 3000 mg of the herb. Serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone and 17-beta estradiol were measured before and at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment with placebo or maca (1.5 g or 3 g per day). Compared with placebo maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time. Serum testosterone levels were not affected by treatment at any of the times studied.
Testosterone, estrogen and hormone
Effect of Lepidium meyenii herb on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men.
This was a 12-week double blind placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses was compared with placebo. Men aged 21-56 years received maca in one of two doses: 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg or placebo for 12 weeks. An improvement in sexual desire was observed. Serum testosterone and estradiol levels were not different in men treated with maca and in those treated with placebo. Logistic regression analysis showed that maca has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, and this effect is not because of changes in either Hamilton scores for depression or anxiety or serum testosterone and estradiol levels.
Energy and fatigue
Maca improves energy unless to0 much is taken leading to insomnia which could cause tiredness if sleep is not deep enough.
I have had a few questions from women asking if maca herb was of benefit in menopause. I have come across few specific human studies regarding the role of maca herb in the treatment of hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause. here is one good menopause study.
Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii on
psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related
to estrogen or androgen content.
Fourteen postmenopausal women completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. They received 3.5 grams a day of powered maca for 6 weeks and matching placebo for 6 weeks, in either order, over a total of 12 weeks. No differences were seen in serum concentrations of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and sex hormone-binding globulin between baseline, maca treatment, and placebo. Preliminary findings show that maca reduces psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and lowers measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity.
I've been taking maca 500 mg capsules for more than one year
to ward off discomfort due to menopause. I originally began taking two 500-mg capsules for about one month and
then cut back to just one daily after breakfast. I felt more energized (in fact
initially I really felt quite energized), but wasn't sure that it was helping
to relieve the hot flashes. I was pretty sure it was, however, helping to
alleviate the anxiety. My gynecologist was unable to provide any information to
me with regard to maca and menopause, except for the usual hormonal treatments.
Because I have been affected with high blood pressure as a result of the use of
even mild birth control, and because strokes and high blood pressure is in my
genetic make-up, I have opted to use maca herb (with hopefully none of these
side effects). After taking maca 500 mg once daily for about a year, I
thought to stop taking it for 30 days to see just how much it was helping my
menopausal symptoms. I realized the hot flashes became more severe and the
anxiety seemed to be more prominent too. I'm not sure how long I'll continue
taking maca supplement once a day, maybe another year or until the menopausal
symptoms diminish (or I become more accustom to the flare-ups). But, I'm certain
(following the 30-day trial) that maca seems to be limiting the miserable hot
flashes and anxiety flare-ups for me. To give you a bit of my personal
background, I am 51 years old. My periods (that were very miserable for 36 years
and I experienced preeclampsia with my one child) stopped two years ago. I have
had an ultra-sound to confirm that my ovaries have shrunk. I'm curious how long
menopausal symptoms continue for the average woman, but I believe I have a
better handle on it now thanks to maca. I hope this helps with your research and
that you're able to find additional testimonies like mine in a way to help the
growing number of 50-something women. I'm disturbed by the use of synthetic
treatments and wish more research would be devoted to herbal applications.
I am a 53 year old woman going through menopause. At this point I am a month away from 12 months with no period. Last month I started taking maca because my libido was very low. I had no idea of its effects on menopausal symptoms. When I started taking it, my libido rose immediately. However, I also noticed my hot flashes where almost gone and I could sleep throughout the night. I have stopped taking them because I seemed to start gaining weight and my breast nipples are tender. Would the maca make me gain weight and cause tenderness to my breasts? I stopped it and have instead started taking 3 tablespoons of flaxseed that has been ground up. I have not had any more hot flashes, my breast are starting to be less tender and I have lost a pound.
It is possible that maca could have the effect of weight gain and lead to breast nipples sensation increase but I don't have enough feedback from women maca supplement users to know for certain.
I am a 54 year old menopausal woman whom went into menopause at the age of 50. I have not taken any supplements or hormones for this and basically suffered with hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety for 4 years- along with other symptoms. I was not sure where to turn for help that would not cause more harm than good (so many different opinions on treatments was unsure of trying anything) plus I'd prefer to try natural over pharmaceutical drugs. I have been on maca pills now since Oct 2008 and now it is January 2009. I have found that maca herb has helped immensely with my hot flashes and night sweats. I now have none at all, or one, once I awhile. Also have other symptoms, low Ibibio / vaginal dryness which I believe it is helping too, plus my doctor diagnosed my thyroid was low in certain hormones (T3, T4) in Oct. I asked him if I could try a natural supplement before putting me on any type of drug and he said I could for 2 months. After 2 months, I had bloodwork redone the end of December and went back to him for the results and he said my thyroid was in the normal range now. I believe the maca pill had helped with that also. So all in all, my usage of maca herb has been helpful in alot of ways. But I think I will give it a break for awhile, since you stated it is best to stop using - off and on.
If you're taking maca for rebalancing
the hormones and it starts working, do you stop, and once stopped,
will the effects remain or will you need to take it for ever?
There are no simple answers since each person is different in their response and need. Chances are when the herbal product is stopped, the effects will wear off within a few days. "Balancing hormone levels" is not a term I use since it is not specific or clear.
Studies in rats decreases the size of their prostate gland which perhaps is a benefit to men with prostate enlargement. I am not sure if maca root has a similar effect in humans.
Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats.
Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2005.
Male rats treated with or without aqueous extracts of three ecotypes of maca (Yellow, Black and Red) were analyzed to determine the effect on ventral prostate weight, epithelial height and duct luminal area. Red Maca but neither Yellow nor Black reduced significantly ventral prostate size in rats. Serum testosterone or estrogen levels were not affected by any of the ecotypes.
Sperm health studies and
fertility, semen volume
Maca has been traditionally used to enhance fertility, and there is some scientific evidence that it may be helpful for testicular health and semen quality and volume. Feeding the herb to rats prevented high altitude disruption in sperm formation.
Lepidium meyenii improved semen parameters in adult men.
Asian J Androl. 2001.
The present study was designed to determine the effect of a 4-month oral treatment with tablets of Lepidium meyenii on seminal analysis in nine adult normal men aged 24-44 years old. Nine men received tablets of maca (1500 or 3000 mg/day) for 4 months. Seminal analysis was performed according to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Serum luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone and estradiol were measured before and after treatment. Treatment resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not modified with Maca treatment. Increase of sperm count was not related to the dose. Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility by mechanisms not related to luteinizing hormone, FSH, PRL, testosterone and estradiol.
Effect of Lepidium meyenii root on spermatogenesis in male
rats acutely exposed to high altitude.
J Endocrinol. 2004.
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that this herb can prevent high altitude-induced testicular disturbances. Adult male rats were exposed for 21 days to an altitude of 4340 m and treated with vehicle or aqueous extract of maca. Treatment of rats at high altitude prevented high altitude-induced spermatogenic disruption.
effects, safety, risk, danger
Maca root has few side effects or safety, risk concerns. High doses could lead to insomnia but as a rule it is quite safe as long as reasonable amounts are consumed.
Interactions with medications
Little research is available in this area.
Can I take maca extract if I am on Coumadin, warfarin.
I have not seen studies regarding the blood thinning properties of this herb.
Different types and colors
Lepidium meyenii: a plant from the highlands of Peru -- from tradition to science.
Forsch Komplementmed. 2009.
Maca is exported as powder, capsules, pills, flour, liquor, and extracts. There are different types with different colors ranging from white to black. We have studied the pharmacological effects of 3 types; yellow, black, and red. Evidence from experimental studies indicates effects of maca on nutrition, fertility, memory, and mood. Black maca has better effects on sperm production than yellow maca which has only moderate effects. Red maca, however, has no effect on sperm production. However, red maca has been shown to reduce prostate size in rats in which prostate hyperplasia had been induced with testosterone enanthate; yellow maca has shown moderate effects here, whereas black maca has not shown any effects. Randomized clinical trials have shown that this root has favorable effects on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire. Maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility, and semen volume. Serum levels of testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH, and prolactin were not affected. The exact mechanisms of action are still unclear, but so far research clearly indicates that various bioactive constituents contribute to the clinical effects reported.
Influence of colour type and previous cultivation on secondary
metabolites in hypocotyls and leaves of maca.
J Sci Food Agric. 2010.
The hypocotyls display various colors ranging from white to black. Each color has different biological effects. The aim of this study was to analyse the concentrations of major secondary metabolites in hypocotyls and leaves of maca in a controlled planting experiment in the Peruvian Andes at 4130 m above sea level. The effects of colour type and of previous cultivation of the field were examined. In the hypocotyls, the colour type effect was significant for most secondary metabolites; exceptions were beta-sitosterol and campesterol. The lead-coloured, yellow and violet maca hypocotyls were rich in glucosinolates, macaene and macamides, respectively. Previous cultivation affected macaene, campesterol and indole glucosinolate concentrations. Effects on metabolite concentrations in the leaves were minor. Hypocotyls were richer in macaene, macamides and glucosinolates than were leaves, and were poorer in beta-sitosterol and total phenols. Colour type has to be considered in maca production, as colour associates with variations in concentrations of distinct bioactive metabolites. Leaves may be interesting for animal nutrition purposes as they contain essentially the same secondary metabolites as the hypocotyls but in clearly lower concentrations.
Maca Powder and Extract Animal Studies
Nutritional evaluation of Lepidium meyenii in albino mice and their descendants
Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2000.
We carried out a controlled study in two generations of albino Swiss mice. The parents were assigned to one of three nutritional schedules. The food of each group was prepared based on powder from a commercial balanced food (CBF) of which 30% was replaced by raw or cooked maca according to the corresponding group or pure CBF in the control group. The groups were this way: 1) Raw Maca Group; 2) Cooked Maca Group; and, 3) Control Group. The results showed that the curves of growth were similar and adequate for the three groups. However, the cooked group showed the best curve. These data were better observable in the second generation of animals, with significant statistical difference. The CBF group had a better growth than raw maca group. No signs of malnutrition nor overweight were observed in none of the groups. The serum values of total proteins and albumin were statistically superior for the mice group eating cooked maca than that of the raw and CBF groups. This study demonstrates one of the traditionally attributed properties of maca, the nutritional capability.
It has been reported that Inca warriors ate maca before engaging into battle to increase their vitality and stamina. Peruvians may have used it to pay taxes to Spanish conquistadors. If you visit Peru, you may find locals consuming the root boiled alongside dried vicuņa meat in soups. Maca flour is used to make sponge cake. Villagers sell maca juice to tourists.
I have bought your book "Mind boosters," and I have finished reading it today. I have to tell you that your book is wonderful, is very useful and precise. I am a 41-year-old Peruvian engineer, and I am going to try some nutrients from your book. Talking about herbs, in Peru we have a wide variety of medicinal herbs, one of them is the Maca Andina as you mention in your book, but we have many many others, unfortunately I cant describe them because I dont have the information on hand. Regards and congratulations! Lima Peru.
Thank you for the feedback. I visited Peru in 1994 and hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. It was one of the highlights of my life. You live in a very beautiful country.
First of all I just wanted to sincerely
congratulate you on your uniquely informative website with its candid, unbiased
and clear information. It is a very rare reality and I highly commend you for
the work you are doing to inform the consumer. I recently tried maca herb. I purchased it from
Imperial Gold Maca website. The first week I was taking 5-6 maca capsules per day
(each capsule is 550mg). I found my mood was undoubtedly enhanced in a positive
way and my energy increased. I felt more focused and able to perform mental and
physical tasks much more effectively. Really great and surprising results both for the subtelty and yet clarity of the effects. However
I found that I had greater difficulty in achieving strong and hard erections for
some reason. This really surprised me given that maca herb is supposed to do the
opposite and increase the potency of erections and libido. On this count however
it was actually worse than before, there was greater time and stimulation needed
to achieve firmness and it was not as potent an erection as usual. On the other
hand the amount of seminal fluid was greater than usual and thicker in
consistency. I just thought I'd write to you about this because I was wondering
if you had had other testimonials with this sort of feedback. I have to say that I stopped taking
it after a week because I was not
happy with this unexpected side effect on me. This was a disappointing decision
because on all other counts it was really proving to have fantastic results and
I just wanted to find out if maybe over time this apparently unusual negative
side effect could subside and my erections would return to normal. Then a few
days ago I took 4 caps of maca again and felt great and my focus was better
again and so I decided to try to find out more from a source I feel to be
truthful and direct.
Your response is not uncommon. I have not found it to be the best aphrodisiac currently available on the market. I find Tongkat ali, horny goat weed, catuaba, and tribulus to be more effective, particularly tongkat ali. However, each herb plays a role in the overall sexual enhancement field, and sometimes combinations work better.
What is Maca Forte?
Maca Forte is a brand name that contains 0.6% glucosinolates.
Is Peruvian maca root better than those
from other countries?
Maca root grows in the Andes mountains which stretch in Chile, Bolivia, and other neighboring countries. I don't see why those grown in Peru are any better than a plant grown in Bolivia or Chile.
What's the difference between maca powder and
An extract of an herb means that the active ingredients are more concentrated and some of the fiber, and other substances within the herb are removed to make it more potent. Each herb is different in regards to powder or an extract being preferable. You can try both and see which one works for you better.
Q. If a woman is undergoing fertility treatment,
do you have any information or resources as to when it would be the best time to
start taking maca herb and when it will be the best time to stop taking it. Any
information will be greatly appreciated.
A. There has been so little research with maca and fertility that it is anybody's guess at this time regarding the best way to take maca herb. Plus, there are many reasons for fertility problems, and perhaps maca, IF it works at all, only addresses one or some of these reasons.
Q. I do have to tell you I have had two in-vitros. During the first in-vitro the quality of my eggs was average. At the start of my second in-vitro I began taking one tablespoon of maca powder on a daily basis without of course telling my MD (I stopped when I found out I was pregnant). However, what my MD does have in writing is the blood tests results as well as the results on the quality of my eggs. During the second in-vitro the quality of my eggs was much better and as I said before, I did get pregnant. Unfortunately, I miscarried after five weeks (empty sac pregnancy). A friend recently had her second in-vitro. She too took lots of maca (Liquid and capsules) and she had the same improvement in the quality of her eggs. She does not know yet if the in vitro will work. I think many women, including myself will volunteer to find out more information about the effects of maca in womens' reproduction.
Q. You do a tremendous service providing information, recent research,
consumer experiences - it's such a help.
I am writing to mention my experience with maca that perhaps you may want to add
to your site. I began taking half a teaspoon daily of raw dried maca root one
week ago. on the 3rd day I took a 2nd half tsp and since then reduced to a
quarter tsp (I am dealing with autoimmune hypothryoidism and take Armour thyroid
2 times a day) The day i began taking maca I had was at my highest energy level
in years, and for the prior 3 weeks had been experiencing high energy and high
metabolism and strong immunity. All that changed with the maca. Immediately
after taking it I felt an effect and my energy level has rapidly plummeted to
incapacitation (effectively bedridden now), and heart palpitations and 'lump in
the throat' feeling I attribute to goiter. I also seem to have gained weight
almost overnight and feel lowered immunity, feeling 'fluish.' I researched very
very extensively on the web before trying the maca, and only today, after I'm
now feeling so awful, have I found some references to maca containing
glucosinates, which when accompanied by a low iodine diet, can conribute to
goiter and reduced thyroid
activity, but no known references to maca bringing this about. And, also read
that the darker varieties contain higher levels of iodine. Also, when I
mentioned this to the health food store that recommended the product, they said
that maca shouldn't be taken with hypothyroid conditions, that it depends on the
variety of maca. I'd
read enough about hypothyroid women having positive experiences with this herb and being able to lower their thyroid medicines, that I thought I'd give it a try. I'm going to stop the herb and let my body settle. I thought my experience should be mentioned. I also realize the quality of the maca and its purity can also be factors and the fact that it is raw and in one herbal monograph I found a mention that maca is traditionally only consumed cooked. I thought I would share my experience since I've learned so much on your site from others who've shared theirs.
A. Thanks for sharing. Much of an effect of a supplement depends on the dosage, the quality of the product, the purity, and interactions with medications or medical conditions a person already has. Some supplements may be beneficial if the dosage is kept very low and they can have bad side effects if the dosage is high.
Q. What I think happened was that the maca on top of the Armour thyroid overstimulated my thyroid - it's taken a few days but it's now calming down. Interestingly, the other effects maca is known for, I did feel immediately, and they've lingered even though I stopped the maca. The upside of this is the possibility of switching from the glandular to the maca which heals and nourishes not only the thyroid but the whole body, and more of a lasting solution than a bandaid that I see the glandulars as. Healing is such a journey, and much of that journey involved trial and error. And, I know on my journey, much good information and guidance I've found on your website - yours is a source people can trust and build on.
Q. I like to take Maca
root powder, and I generally prefer to take herbs in straight powder form,
"straight" meaning mixing the powder with my food, rather than taking them in
capsules (I'll take capsules though if I have to). I was wondering though, which
is better for absorption and maximizing the use of any herb: straight powder
with food, juice, etc., or powders in capsules? I'm thinking that with straight
powder, my body doesn't have to go through breaking down the capsule material,
and I'll get more nutrients more quickly. But with capsules, I'm wondering if
they preserve some of the nutrients from stomach breakdown so they can be
delivered to the target organs? Is either thought correct? Which would you
recommend for herbs/nutrients generally, if you had a choice?
A. Opening the capsules and mixing it with water or a little bit of juice is preferable, but only slightly since stomach acid is able to break through the gelatin capsule quite easily.