Nutrition

Can Maca Help With Menopause?

In this article, we’ll explore using maca for menopause symptoms. We’ll cover menopause symptoms, how maca works, the benefits of using it and what dosage you need to take. Menopause and the distinctive symptoms that come with it can a bring major disturbance in almost all aging women. At this particular stage of a woman’s life, the ovaries reduce the speed of hormone production and the release of eggs for fertilization is halted. The brain, in the meantime, takes a little while to absorb all these changes in hormone production. When the brain reacts to this hormonal imbalance, it results in distressing symptoms that most menopausal women complain about. They include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disruption
  • Depression
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Changes in libido

Most women begin to feel these symptoms when they are past middle age, usually at around 45 to 55 years of age. This new phase in their life marks the end of their monthly menstrual cycle, egg production, and their capability to conceive.

Women who experience the above menopausal symptoms may try sleeping aids, anti-depressants, and analgesics, but these merely address the symptoms to provide temporary relief. They fail to deal with the underlying cause of the problem which is a hormonal imbalance.

Synthetic vs. Natural Menopause Solutions

Many women at this difficult life stage consider undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to alleviate the severity of menopausal symptoms. Most of them, however, are worried and having second thoughts due to the side effects of hormone replacement therapy which are mostly unreleased publicly. In HRT, synthetic versions of the natural female hormones that include progesterone and estrogen are administered to menopausal women since their body can no longer manufacture them. Many women who prefer the natural and wholesome alternatives, refused to go aboard the much-publicized HRT bandwagon where synthetic hormone pills are taken to suppress the undesirable effects of menopause. Fortunately, there are now several natural alternatives as well as complementary therapies that have shown encouraging outcomes. An increasing number of women are directing their attention toward natural treatments to help them overcome the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Their problem, however, is the difficulty of dealing with a medicine chest full of various medications and pills and unsure what they are really for. As more and more are avoiding hormonal therapies that involve chemicals, many are turning to use maca powder in place of non-natural alternatives.

Taking the Maca Alternative

Maca is one of the foremost natural solutions that is being eyed to offer relief from the annoying menopausal symptoms. Maca is an indigenous crop originally raised by the ancient Inca people in the high-altitude Andean regions of Peru. This turnip-like plant has high mineral content and amazing healing properties. Belonging to the same vegetable family as broccoli, cabbage, and radish, it is maca’s root that contains the highest nutritional value. Maca consists of an impressive lineup of nutrients that include iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, and iodine. It is known for its capabilities to help in hormonal balance which is beneficial to women at the menopausal stage. Maca is considered an adaptogenic herb. This means that it belongs to a class of herbs that help the body cope with stress and anxiety by supporting the adrenal system. Maca boosts the body’s capabilities to handle stress, fatigue, and anxiety that women often experience during menopause and peri-menopause. Hormones are one of the key factors in stress. Thus, the secret to alleviating menopausal stress is for the body to achieve hormonal balance. And the best way for women to help their body get their hormones balanced is to deal directly with the source, not just treat the symptoms.

Hormonal Balance Through Nourished Glands

Well-balanced hormones begin with nourished glands. The glands are the body’s central stress response system which is responsible for stress management. These glands are the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, which make up the complex hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. By nourishing these primary glands, maca supports the entire endocrine system by creating an environment that is conducive to hormonal balance. Maca impacts the body in a completely different way from the much-vaunted hormone replacement therapy. There are no synthetic hormones to be administered through pills or topical creams. Instead, maca nourishes the glands along the HPA axis which, in turn, stimulates the body to manufacture its own hormones in accordance with the user’s needs. Maca does not directly act on human hormones. Research findings have shown that the herb by itself has no plant estrogen or hormone content. Instead, maca has hormone-normalizing properties most likely because of its unique nutritional composition. The plant supplies the body’s endocrine system with the right level of nutrients needed for managing stress, moods, sexual development, energy levels, metabolism, growth, and overall well-being. Maca does beneficial work on the menopausal woman’s nervous system. It can calm the nerves and provide it much-needed nourishment which includes B1 and B12 vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and essential fatty acids. Simultaneously, maca boosts and sustains the adrenal glands to stop their dependence on harmful cortical steroids to provide energy to the body. Vitamin C, calcium, and sterols contained in maca help develop muscle mass. The starches found in the fruit help build physical endurance. There are many maca research that can most benefit menopausal women. These researches involve the stimulation of metabolism, improved sex drive, sex hormone production, stress reduction, weight control, memory enhancement, mood improvement, and raising energy levels.

Maca Could Enhance Natural Estrogen Production

Maca carries nutrients called glucosinolates that stimulate the production of balanced hormone levels in the body. Taking as a food supplement to lessen hot flushes and another discomfort of menopause, maca spurs the body to manufacture more natural estrogen and help it respond better to stressful conditions. Since it can enhance natural estrogen production, many maca users claim that the herb can treat many of the unpleasant menopausal symptoms like diminished libido, vaginal dryness, and water retention.

Clinical Studies on Maca

There have been few clinical studies on maca, and most of them have been done on men and women to determine their effects on libido and sexual function. Tests have been done on animals as well. In research conducted at Australia’s Victoria University, 14 postmenopausal women were given 3.5 grams of maca daily for 6 weeks. Another test group was given placebo pills. Hormone levels were recorded before and after the treatment. The female subjects who took maca had depression and anxiety substantially reduced, and sexual function got better. The researchers came to the conclusion that maca reduced anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms in women. They also concluded that it lessened the incidence of sexual issues even without the natural production of estrogen and other female hormones.

Maca Dosage

While the Victoria University study subjects were given 3.5 grams (3500 mg) of maca daily, it is recommended to use a smaller amount (500 – 2000 mg daily) if the herb will be taken for a longer period. It has not yet been established how maca works together with HRT. For women who are on hormonal replacement therapy, it will be a good idea to use 500 mg of maca daily for a week. By doing this, you can determine if you need to increase or lower your dosage. It is also recommended for users to take a regular therapeutic dose of maca instead of using the supplement in a casual manner. To gain maca’s maximum effect, take it for 2 to 6 weeks, or even longer, to give it ample time to work. Also not that maca has some possible side effects.

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