Maca, also known as Peruvian ginseng, is a perennial plant harvested by the ancient Inca culture that can resist adverse climatic conditions like frost and strong winds. It’s a native plant with a therapeutic root that grows extensively in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
For more than 1,300 years, maca is used as both food and medicine, and it has long been known as a fertility aid and an aphrodisiac. Natives also use the maca root to alleviate symptoms associated with the conditions we know today as dementia, menopause, tuberculosis, stomach cancer, and anemia. The Inca warriors would also gnaw on the root to boost their stamina levels. On the other hand, civilians considered maca root as valuable and even used it as a currency form.
Recently, maca is used for its other properties, including its adaptogenic qualities. Maca is also used for weight loss. Though it’s not usually linked with weight loss per se, its many benefits and capabilities can help promote a decrease in weight.
But besides being helpful for weight loss, maca root has a lot of benefits for the body. Some consider it as a superfood because it has great health potential.
Here are some ways maca can be beneficial for the body:
1. It’s an adaptogen.
Maca root is considered an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to or respond to the stressors introduced to the body. These stressors may range from anything such as lack of sleep to a stressful job to a loss of a loved one. All these stressors rely heavily on the hormones of the body, causing cortisol (the stress hormone) to rise and overtake the system.
The adaptogen qualities of maca lie within the nutrients present in its root. There are more than 20 amino acids present in maca, which can lower stress levels.
2. It’s a natural energy booster.
Maca helps increase energy in the body. It’s a natural stimulant that can help speed up metabolism, burning more calories, and causing weight loss over time.
Maca can increase energy because it can help normalize blood sugar, which in turn, lowers blood pressure. When the blood sugar levels are out of whack, the body’s adrenal glands are drained, resulting in adrenal fatigue and daytime slumps. The adrenal glands regulate the energy levels, so removing stress results in a natural energy boost.
3. It improves the male reproductive system.
Maca benefits men in many areas. It is found to increase sperm production and help with the motility of sperm, making it more potent. If you’re struggling with infertility, helping those little swimmers become more mobile is great news. Also, maca can help decrease the size of an enlarged prostate, which can be a precursor to prostate cancer. The polyphenols in red maca are what help prevent prostate enlargement, making it advisable for aging men.
Maca also raises testosterone levels. One of the main reasons why a man develops a lower libido, erectile dysfunction, and decreased sperm count is due to higher levels of estrogen. When a man is under intense stress, the stress hormone cortisol overwhelms the system, impeding testosterone production. When testosterone isn’t being produced, estrogen takes place. Maca prevents this from happening.
4. It helps normalize the female reproductive system.
Maca doesn’t only benefit men, but women as well. This superfood has been shown to regulate the menstrual cycle of women with irregular periods. These women can also experience a reduction in menstrual flow, as well as lessened PMS symptoms and menstrual pain. It also helps women overcome problems with infertility, according to anecdotal evidence. Some women also experienced the dissolution of uterine fibroids after taking organic maca root powder for two to three months.
5. It helps stimulate sexual arousal in older men and women.
While there isn’t enough research done on maca root, some studies suggest that maca can aid in sexual arousal for both older men and women. First of all, maca amps up energy and focus, which leads to a boost in libido. Also, some randomized clinical trials did find a positive effect of maca on sexual desire or sexual dysfunction in menopausal women and adult men.
6. It regulates the mood.
The adrenal glands are also in charge of focus and memory. Studies conducted on rats have found that supplementing with maca root helps improve brain function. It’s because maca works as an AcHE inhibitor, which keeps the brain’s neurotransmitters from breaking down. These neurotransmitters help in almost every move and thought the brain tells the body to do, including the mood.
7. It boosts the immune system.
Maca root is a rich source of vitamin C, which is essential for boosting the immune system. Just two tablespoons contain 133% of the daily recommended intake of the vitamin in the body. On top of its high vitamin C levels, it also contains a number of antioxidants, which help rejuvenate blood cells to fight off free radicals that cause many illnesses, and inflammations.
8. It improves skin health.
This root can also help protect the skin from damage caused by UV rays. Some studies suggest the maca extract can help protect the skin from UV radiation due to a high concentration of antioxidants present in maca root. It can also aid in preventing burns and the growth of cancer cells. However, it’s not advisable to use it as a replacement for applying sunscreen.