By Nikki Robbins
What is maca?
What is maca powder’s macro-profile?
Is there a difference between the colors of maca?
What does maca powder do?
How do I use maca powder?
I have a maca powder journey, haha. I actually came upon maca powder when Taylor and I decided to experiment with going off birth control. Not to have a baby, but because my hormones seemed to be out-of-wack. I found out about maca powder from the Wellness Mama, Katie, a great resource for women’s natural [almost] everything. I have been taking 3 teaspoons nearly every day for 12 weeks now. I take it along with Vitex, an herb I will be talking about in another article later.
WHAT IS MACA?
Maca is an Andean root, referred to as an herb. It’s a starchy tuber (plant structure) that looks like a radish or a turnip. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium. In Peru, maca is a staple food. It can be cooked, mashed, mixed with liquid, dried, ground, and turned into powder.1
“It is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production.”3
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COLORS OF MACA?
Scientific research says yes! There are three colors:
- White, sometimes called yellow.
- It is most common and cheapest because 60% of the annual harvest is white maca. This is turned into cream colored maca powder.
- It boosts energy, enhances concentration, and balances hormones.
- Light pink to dark purple
- This color is 25% of the annual harvest. It is turned into red maca powder.
- This is the color I use!
- It’s known to be the most effective type for hormone balancing, female fertility, and bone and prostate health.
- Light gray to dark gray
- It is 15% of the annual harvest and the most expensive. This root is turned into black maca powder.
- Studies show that this color is most effective for muscle building, endurance, mental focus, male libido (sex drive- hey, hey!), and male fertility.2 Sounds strong, right?!
WHAT DOES MACA POWDER DO?
There is debate about what maca actually does. It is known to help with menopausal symptoms, heal hormonal imbalances1, reverse hypothyroidism3, increase sex drive1, improve skin and hair, increase energy3, improve high blood pressure7, reduce prostrate enlargement9, promote fertility3,10 and decrease stress3,8.
Psychiatrist and functional medicine physician Hyla Cass, MD, says “In my practice, I have seen maca restore hormonal imbalance and related sexual desire and fertility in both men and women.”
Chris Kilham, author of Hot Plants, says, “Maca enjoys a very long history of successful medicinal use for menopausal discomfort, infertility, and sexual healing. The question is not whether it works — because we know it works with certainty — but how it works”. 1
People with adrenal fatigue tend to use this root because it reduces stress hormones. 3
All varieties of maca show antidepressant activity.11
Some evidence for maca benefits comes from a study on rats where they found that the use of maca enhanced male sexual function.4 I know that’s kind of awkward; don’t picture it in your head.
There is one valid human trial I found on maca. In one small 12-week study, use of maca at 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg increased male libido.5 While this was an interesting finding, the study did not report benefits in male sexual function, just desire.
Other researchers say, “…evidence is as yet too weak to justify any claims regarding maca and these conditions.”6
Another resource says, “Maca stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which are the “master glands” of the body. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when in balance they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.” 10
HOW DO I USE MACA POWDER?
Studies, doctors, and my personal experience suggest taking around 3tsp. per day. Some sources say to spread that supplement out throughout the day, others sources just say to take the 3tsp. There are a variety of baking recipes you can find on the web, but since I try to avoid a ton of starchy carbohydrates in my diet, I prefer to mix 3tsp. into 4oz. of almond milk and add 4-6 drops of organic stevia. Mix and drink! I chug, because I can’t stand the taste of the powder. Others enjoy it and find the taste to be similar to potato or sweet potato.
Many sources on my reference list believe maca powder should not be consumed during pregnancy. The Peruvian women eat maca root throughout pregnancy and claim to be just fine. To be safe though, I would still to avoiding the powder while brewing a baby, (pregnant)!
The Maca Team is a company who sells the maca powder we suggest buying. Here is a helpful list of ways maca powder can be used to treat ailments:
1 Zelman, K. M. (2010). The Truth About Maca and Your Libido. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/the-truth-about-maca
2 The Maca Team. (2014). Which Maca Is Right for Me? Retrieved from http://www.themacateam.com/best-maca
3Wellness Mama, K. (2014). Herb Profile: Maca. Retrieved from http://wellnessmama.com/8254/herb-profile-maca/
4Cicero AF, Piacente S, Plaza A, et al. Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia . 2002;34:177-179.
5 Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia . 2002;34:367.
6 EBSCO CAM Review Board. (2013) Maca. Retrieved from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=104590#ref11
7 Eddouks M, Maghrani M, Zeggwagh NA, et al. Study of the hypoglycaemic activity of Lepidium sativum L. aqueous extract in normal and diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol . 2005;97:391-395.
8 Martinez Caballero S, Carricajo Fernandez C, Perez-Fernandez R, et al. Effect of an integral suspension of Lepidium latifolium on prostate hyperplasia in rats. Fitoterapia . 2004;75:187-191.
9 Gonzales GF, Miranda S, Nieto J, et al. Red maca ( Lepidium meyenii ) reduced prostate size in rats. ReprodBiol Endocrinol . 2005;3:5.
10 Evans, K. (2009). Benefits of Maca Root: Find More Energy and Hormonal Balance. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/027797_maca_root_hormone_ balance.html#ixzz32HlhHnrm
11 Rubio, J., Caldas, M., Davila, S. Gasco, M., Gonzales, G.F. (2006).Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 6(23). Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/6/23