Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable grown high in the Peruvian Andes. It has been used as a food and medicine in South America for centuries. Well known for its ability to help enhance strength and endurance, it is said that the Incan warriors would consume maca before long journeys and even battles.
Cream maca – energy, vitality, fertility, balance of hormones
Cream coloured roots are the most widely grown and are favored in Peru for their enhanced sweetness and size.
Maca, whether the yellow/cream, red or black, can do all of the following:
- Boost overall energy and vitality
- Balance hormones for both men and women – this can support with menopause, acne, fertility, thyroid and other health problems related to the endocrine system.
- Support a healhy libido and sex drive
Black maca – Sperm production, memory, concentration skills, increase bone density
Black maca is considered the strongest in energy and stamina-promoting properties, being both sweet and slightly bitter in taste. In a study from 2009 at the a Peruvian University, Black Maca was seen to be the best of all varieties for increasing sperm production motility and volume as well as for increasing libido. In 2011, 2 different studies, one from China and one from Peru found that Black Colored Maca helped laboratory mice improve their memory and concentration skills.
Red maca – reduction in prostate size, anti-tumoral, increase bone density
Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii or Lepidium peruvianum) is the rarest of all varieties of maca. It is sometimes called pink or purple maca, but is most generally referred to as “red maca.” Red maca is becoming popular with many people. It has a milder taste than cream coloured maca and has been clinically shown to reduce prostate size in rats.
A study done on red maca was published in the Journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2005; 3:5. In it 8 medical researchers report that over the course of 42 days: “Red Maca but neither Yellow/Cream nor Black Maca reduced significantly ventral prostate size in rats.“ The study also goes on to report that in under pyhtochemical analysis for 7 functional nutrient groups, “Highest peak values were observed for Red Maca, intermediate values for Yellow/Cream Maca and low values for Black Maca.”
Red maca has been shown, under phytonutrient analysis, to be higher in certain compounds that support the body in antioxidant and anti-tumoral activity. It has also been shown among all macas to contain somewhat higher levels of other pythonutrients including alkaloids, tannins, saponis and steroids.
In 2010 researchers from the Universidad Peruana, Lima published a study on the effects of maca on bone structure in rats that had had their ovaries removed. The conclusion was that both “Red and black maca have protective effects on bone architecture in OVX rats without showing estrogenic effects on uterine weight.”
How to take maca root power properly
Maca is an adaptogenic. An adaptogenic substance is one that demonstrates a nonspecific enhancement of the body’s ability to resist a stressor. Many herbs have exactly these properties.
It is not recommended that you take two or more adaptogenic herbs together. Only take one adaptogenic herb at a time. Also avoid taking dong quai, black cohosh, licorice root and fertility drugs with maca.
If you are taking any drugs, make sure you consult a health professional before taking maca.
Start with a small amount, 1/4 tsp. in the morning. You can repeat the same at night, always taken with meals or just before eating.
Do so for a week or two to notice any changes. Increase the dosage by another 1/4 tsp. if no changes have been noticed.
Maca has an effect on the endocrine system which balances hormone. Some people will notice a difference quicker, while others may take slightly longer.
You should not exceed three teaspoons a day and don’t take it all at once. The latest it should be taken is just before dinner, as it can affect sleep.
Most importantly, give your body a maca break once a month. If you have been on maca for a month, take a weekend off. If you have been taking it for 3 months or longer, take a full week off. This is to keep your body responsive to the phytonutrients.