Maca to the rescue

The maca plant,is known scientifically as Lepidium Meyenii. It mainly grows in the rich soils of the Andes mountains ranges in central Peru. It is exposed to sources of minerals that are usually destroyed by farming in other parts of the world. Its ability to withstand extreme hot and cold weather conditions is demonstrated in its many health benefits. Maca is a cruciferous vegetable, related to broccoli, cauliflower and kale. The main edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground.

Highly Nutritious

Maca root powder is very nutritious, and is a great source of several important vitamins and minerals. It is rich in vitamins B1, B2 , C and E and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also contains trace minerals such as zinc, iodine, selenium, manganese and copper, 20 amino acids and 7 essential amino acids. Maca root is a good source of carbs, is low in fat and contains a fair amount of fibre. It also contains many bioactive plant compounds.

Enhances Energy, Mood and Memory

Clinical trials have shown that maca may positively impact energy and stamina. Maintaining positive energy levels can also help to improve mood. It contains plant compounds called flavonoids, which have been suggested to be at least partly responsible for psychological benefits. Maca contains flavonoids, which are thought to improve mood and reduce anxiety. A 2014 review suggested that maca may have benefits for learning and memory performance. Researchers suggested that it could be helpful in treating conditions that affect these processes, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Increases Libido in Men and Women

Reduced sexual desire is a common problem among adults. Consequently, there is a great amount of interest in herbs and plants that naturally boost libido. Maca has been widely marketed as being effective at improving sexual desire, and this claim is backed by research. A review from 2010 that included four clinical studies, found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of ingestion.

Relief in Menopausal Symptoms

Some proponents of maca root believe it may help balance levels of the hormone estrogen. During perimenopause, the stage before a women reaches menopause, estrogen levels fluctuate and cause a variety of symptoms. One study found that postmenopausal women who took two daily tablets containing maca experienced reduced symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. 

Sun protection for Skin

Ultraviolet rays from the sun may burn and damage unprotected and exposed skin. Over time, UV radiation can cause wrinkles and increase the risk of skin cancer. There is some evidence that applying maca extract, a concentrated form of the plant, to your skin may help protect it from  UV radiation. Keep in mind that maca extract only protects the skin when applied and cannot replace a conventional sunscreen.

Maca has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Maca is widely available at health stores, pharmacies and online retailers in capsule, powder, extract or liquid form. It can be easily added to smoothies or meals and is often used before exercising to boost energy levels. Supplementing with maca may provide several health benefits such as increased libido and better mood. However, most of the studies are small. And although maca shows a lot of promise, it needs to be studied more extensively.

Candice Schmidt
Author: Candice Schmidt