What Maca Can Do for Your Health: A Complete List of Maca Health Benefits
4 minutes to read

Maca is a cruciferous vegetable native to the high Andes of Peru, where people have used it as food and traditional medicine. This herbaceous plant is also known as Peruvian Ginseng or Lepidium meyenii in scientific circles.


The indigenous people of the Andes Mountains used maca for thousands of years. In fact, records indicate that native Peruvians used maca for almost 6000 years and domesticated it 2000 years ago. They used it to promote fertility, enhance strength, and improve endurance.


Today, maca is grown in other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and the US. We use it as a dietary supplement to promote cognitive performance, reduce stress, ease anxiety, support libido, and boost overall health.


But can maca do all that? Before we jump into science, let’s see why native Peruvians valued maca so much.


The Origins of Maca as an Adaptogen and Superfood

An adaptogen is a natural substance (usually a plant extract) believed to support homeostasis, by helping your body overcome the effects of stress. They can do that by supporting the immune system, sympathetic nervous system, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Maca is considered a superfood with adaptogenic properties that can help combat the effects of stress, thus helping the body maintain a state of equilibrium.


Maca’s use as food and medicinal plant dates back to the pre-Incan cultures that inhabited the Andes Mountains thousands of years ago. The indigenous people of the Andes Mountains used this potent herb to enhance fertility in both men and women.


The Incas later incorporated maca into their diet and used it for medicinal purposes. Incan warriors often consumed it before battle to increase their strength and endurance. Since maca natively grows high up in the mountains (7,000 to 11,000 feet), where only a few plants can survive, farmers used it to help them cope with the high altitudes and extreme weather conditions of the Andes.


The plant was so valuable, it also served as a currency. The cultivation of maca was strictly controlled by Inca rulers, who reserved this plant for royalty and warriors. 


Maca still grows in the central highlands of Peru, where it serves as an important crop to local people. They use it for food, medicine, and trade. However, maca’s use has recently spread worldwide, as this superfood is believed to have many health benefits.


As a superfood, maca is highly nutritious, making it an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains proteins, fibers, and complex carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy. There are also many bioactive compounds, including alkaloids, flavonoids, and glucosinolates, which may have health-promoting effects.


Now let’s see what maca can do for your health.

Modern Use & Health Benefits of Maca

The modern-day craze for maca began in the early 2000s when it was first touted as a natural energy booster and aphrodisiac. People began to take notice of maca’s health benefits and started incorporating it into their diets in various forms - from supplements to smoothie bowls.


Maca was traditionally dried after harvesting and then boiled before consumption. Today, maca usually comes in powder or capsule form. Maca powder is the most popular because you can easily add it to smoothies, pancakes, oatmeal, baked goods, and other foods and drinks. 


Of course, there’s always a bit of skepticism when a new health trend emerges. But as more and more studies supported the claims about maca’s health benefits, its popularity continued to grow. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little extra energy and passion in their lives? 


Nowadays, you can find maca in a variety of products - from chocolate bars to energy drinks. And while some may still scoff at the idea of a “superfood,” there’s no denying that maca has made a name for itself in the health world.


Today, people use maca for:


  • Sexual health and libido
  • Energy levels and endurance
  • Combating stress and anxiety
  • Better mood
  • Inflammation
  • Cognitive function
  • Skin health
  • Overall health boost


This all sounds great, but there’s probably one question in your mind: can maca really help with all of these things? 


Let’s see what science has to say about it.


Clinical Evidence Supporting Maca’s Health Benefits

Maca has been used for thousands of years for its supposed benefits, but what does scientific research say? In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the studies that have explored the potential health effects of maca and see what they discovered.


Let’s dive in!


  1. Maca May Support Sexual Health and Libido

Native people of the Andes Mountains used maca to improve libido and sexual health in both men and women. Today, we have some evidence to back these claims.


For example, a 2015 trial examined the effects of maca root on sexual dysfunction in women who used antidepressants. The results showed that daily supplementation for 12 weeks could restore sexual desire and reduce antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.


Another clinical trial discovered that daily maca supplementation could lower sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. 


Maca could also have sexual health benefits for men, as some studies identified slight erectile dysfunction improvement and stronger sexual desire in men who took maca supplements.


What’s interesting is that maca induces these sexual health benefits in men and women without affecting hormones. None of the studies above reported any changes in testosterone and estrogen levels.


  1. Maca May Improve Male Fertility

There has been a steady decline in men’s fertility, as sperm count has decreased by 50-60% in the past decades. That’s why researchers often look for ways to prevent this, and maca seems like an excellent choice because it’s been traditionally used to boost fertility and sexual health.


A 2015 pilot study examining maca’s effects on men’s fertility showed positive results. After a daily supplementation for 12 weeks, sperm concentration and motility increased, which are vital parameters for male fertility.


A 2020 randomized controlled trial discovered that 12 weeks of daily maca supplementation helped improve sperm concentration in infertile adult men. However, there were no statistically significant effects on sperm motility, sperm morphology, and semen volume.


These fertility-boosting effects in human studies are consistent with animal studies where maca supplementation improved sperm quantity and quality in rats and bulls.


  1. Maca May Boost Energy Levels and Physical Performance

Maca has become relatively popular in the fitness world, as some athletes and bodybuilders use it to increase energy and boost performance. However, we have limited evidence to support this.


A pilot study examining the effects of maca on sports performance found that short-term supplementation could improve performance and sexual desire in male cyclists. Cyclists who took maca supplements had better 40km cycle trial times than those who didn’t.


These results are in sync with animal studies, where maca successfully increased swimming endurance in rats


Although we need more evidence to establish how maca affects physical performance, these results are promising, especially for athletes looking for something extra to improve their endurance.


  1. Maca May Improve the Body’s Response to Stress

Maca is an adaptogenic herb, and adaptogens help the body react better to stress. This is supported by animal research, where one study discovered that maca extract helped rats restore homeostasis and reduce the effects of stress. Rats consuming maca experienced an improvement in standard stress parameters like elevated corticosterone levels, stress-induced ulcers, reduction of glucose, and increased adrenal glands weight.


  1. Maca May Ease Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

The great thing about adaptogens is that they can help with stress and anxiety. It appears that maca is no different, as a 2016 safety trial concluded that this adaptogenic herb could successfully contribute to better mood and improved subjective quality of life.


Maca contains a powerful form of polyphenols called flavonoids. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, perfect for improving symptoms of anxiety and depression. And although we don’t know the exact mechanism behind maca’s effects on mental health, flavonoids certainly play an important role.


A 2014 study discovered that daily supplementation with maca helped mice fight off the effects of chronic stress. The results showed lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and increased levels of noradrenaline and dopamine in the brain. This produced antidepressant-like effects, hinting at the great potential of maca to aid mental health.


Another pilot study investigated whether maca had any health benefits on postmenopausal women. It turns out that 12 weeks of supplementation helped lower the blood pressure and reduce symptoms of depression in these women. 


All these results show that maca has the potential to improve mood and help combat symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, we need a few more studies to solidify these claims.


  1. Other Health Benefits

Maca may also have other benefits, as various studies have investigated its potential. For example, a trial published in the International Journal of Biomedical Sciences revealed that maca could relieve symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats. There have also been case reports where supplementation with maca helped with sleep quality, anxiety, and hot flashes during menopause. However, a systematic review warns that we need larger and better quality studies to determine the safety and efficacy of maca for menopausal treatment.


What we do know is that maca contains polyunsaturated acids, which are nutrients vital for bone health. One study in rats confirmed the link between maca and healthy bones, as the supplementation with this superfood improved bone health. Similar effects were observed in a study with human subjects where bone density markers in menopausal women improved after taking maca supplements for four months.


Finally, there are some indications that maca could help with learning and memory, slow cognitive decline, and protect skin against sunburn.

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Is Maca Safe?

Maca is considered safe for most people, but keep in mind that every person is different, and what works for one might not work for another. However, there’s no need to panic and throw out your maca powder just yet. The truth is, there are very few reported cases of mild adverse side effects from consuming maca.


The most common maca side effects include:


  • Digestive discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Altered menstrual cycles
  • Cramps
  • Moodiness
  • Sleep issues


Because we lack quality safety studies, certain people should avoid using this superfood. That includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with thyroid problems, people undergoing hormone therapy, and people with conditions like:


  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer.


MTE: A Green Supplement That Takes Maca Benefits to a New Level

Maca is not only a powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits, but it’s also incredibly versatile. You can toss it in your morning smoothie, add it to your baked goods, sprinkle it on your yogurt, or even stir it into your coffee. And now, we’ve made it even easier for you to get your daily dose of maca with MTE: a greens supplement in powder form.


MTE isn’t your average energy drink. It’s a unique blend of maca and 11 other adaptogens, nootropics, and superfoods, all working together to support your energy levels, cognitive function, mood, sleep, and overall well-being. These natural feel-good greens pack a punch with its potent and sustainable benefits, all in a convenient powder mix.


So why settle for feeling just okay when you can reach a new health peak? Try MTE and experience the power of maca in a delicious, simple green mix.

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