By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Despite being revered for its medicinal properties for thousands of years, maca root is one of the newest remedies to take center stage in the natural health community, and its newfound superfood status is well-deserved. Researchers are continually turning up new health benefits associated with this powerful root vegetable.
What is maca? Known by its scientific name, Lepidium meyenii, maca is a type of cruciferous vegetable native to the Andes of Peru. Maca has a similar appearance and size as radishes or turnips with green tops and roots that range in color from yellow to purple and black.
The pleasant-tasting root is usually available in powder form after being harvested and grounded down. Not only is it a natural source of healing nutrition, but it also has a long history of being a safe superfood that has been consumed for its health benefits for thousands of years in regions of the Andes Mountains.
It’s also considered an “adaptogen,” a name given to certain herbs, plants and natural substances that help the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job or illness.
Not only that, but maca provides a host of important micronutrients and is jam-packed with antioxidants, and it has been shown to improve sexual health, balance hormone levels, and improve energy, mood and memory.
Maca Root Benefits
- Rich in Antioxidants
- Enhances Energy, Mood and Memory
- Improves Female Sexual Health
- Balances Estrogen Levels
- Boosts Male Fertility
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Maca root acts as a natural antioxidant, boosting levels of antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismutase in the body. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, fighting off chronic disease and preventing damage to cells.
An animal study in the Czech Republic even found that administering a concentrated dose of maca to rats not only improved their antioxidant status, but also significantly decreased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver and reduced blood sugar, helping prevent the development of chronic disease. (2) Meanwhile, another test-tube study showed that the antioxidant content of maca leaf extract could even protect against neurological damage. (3)
Improving your antioxidant status may be beneficial for preventing conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes by preventing oxidative stress and cell damage. (4) However, despite these promising results, more studies are needed to understand how the antioxidants in maca root may affect humans.
2. Enhances Energy, Mood and Memory
Those who regularly use maca powder report that it makes them feel more awake, energized and driven, often relatively quickly after beginning to use it. Plus, maca can help increase energy without giving you the “jitters” or a sense of shakiness like high level of caffeine can.
Clinical trials have shown that maca may positively impact energy and stamina. Maintaining positive energy levels can also help improve mood, and some early studies have even found that maca may reduce symptoms of depression. (5)
It remains unclear exactly how maca increases energy levels, but it’s believed to help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar and maintain adrenal health, which regulates mood and energy throughout the day. Keeping energy levels up may also help prevent weight gain as well.
Several studies have also found that maca root benefits memory and focus. In fact, two animal studies in 2011 found that black maca was able to improve memory impairment in mice, likely thanks to its high antioxidant content. (6, 7)
3. Improves Female Sexual Health
Multiple studies have confirmed that maca benefits female sexual health through several different mechanisms.
Maca root may be able to improve sexual dysfunction and boost sex drive in women. One study looked at the effects of maca root on post-menopausal women with sexual dysfunction caused by the use of antidepressants. Compared to a placebo, maca root was able to significantly improve sexual function. (8) Another study had similar findings, reporting that maca was well-tolerated and able to improve libido and sexual function. (9)
A study in 2008 also found that maca root benefits both psychological symptoms and sexual function in post-menopausal women. In fact, maca was able to reduce menopause-associated depression and anxiety after six weeks of treatment. (10)
Maca is also able to balance female sex hormones and has even been shown to alleviate symptoms of menopause. (11) Balancing hormone levels is crucial to many aspects of reproductive health and can help reduce symptoms like infertility, weight gain and bloating.
Maca Root (60 Capsules)
- Brand: Pure Medics
- Product Code: Maca Root
- Availability: 10