how to use maca root

What are the health benefits of Maca powder?

Maca is an herb that has long been used in women’s health to increase energy, boost libido, and eliminate uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes. Adaptogens are gaining steam in the health and wellness realm, as more and more people are learning how these herbs (many of which have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years) can bring balance to chaotic hormones. Maca powder benefits have long been reported by women who use this root and there is research to show several ways in which Maca can improve our health.

In this article, I’ll be answering an important question about the main mojolicious adaptogen: What are the health benefits of Maca powder?

Benefits of Maca Root

  1. Alleviate menopausal symptoms
  2. Improve your mood
  3. Boost energy and endurance
  4. Protect skin from sun
  5. Improve brain health and memory
  6. Increase libido
  7. Increase fertility
  8. Lower blood pressure
  9. Increase antioxidants

What is Maca root? 

Maca root (also known as Peruvian ginseng) is a hardy plant grown in the Andes. It’s a cruciferous vegetable, so it’s related to one of my favorites, broccoli. Maca is an adaptogen, and is available for consumption as a powder (made by grinding up the root), as a tincture or as a supplement in pill form.   

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogenic herbs are becoming more and more famous for their ability to restore harmony to various hormones and systems in the body, most notably the adrenals. That’s right, this old school herbal medicine just became internet famous. 😉 

Examples of adaptogens are:

  • Rhodiola
  • Ashwagandha
  • Ginseng
  • Gotu Kola
  • Licorice Root
  • Eleutherococcus
  • Reishi Mushroom
  • Cordyceps
  • Maca

Adapatogenic herbs support your body in what it does naturally, which means they won’t help you run yourself into the ground. If you’re skipping sleep, exercise and pulling all nighters then know that these herbs will only take you so far. Adaptogens help your body modulate healthy function and can take three months or more to notice their effect. 

In my practice, we use the Optimal Adrenal Kit, which contains a blend of adaptogenic herbs, minerals, vitamins and amino acids to provide comprehensive adrenal care.

The typical way my patients use the kit is…
☀️Adrenal Support 3 caps with breakfast
☀️B Active Plus 1 cap with breakfast
🌙Adrenal Calm 3 caps after dinner (we call this the “chill pill” in my clinic)

What are the benefits of maca powder?

And now we get into the juicy stuff: the benefits of maca powder. Maca is perhaps best known for improving libido and enhancing sexual desire. However, it has many other powerful uses that can support our health. 

As an adaptogenic herb it can support healthy energy levels, better moods, and dampen down hormonal chaos that stems from imbalance.

Alleviate Menopausal Symptoms 

Maca powder can help ease hot flashes associated with menopause. Additionally, because adaptogens are great for supporting the adrenals, maca can be used to regulate cortisol. This is important because during menopause, the adrenals play a huge role in your health by producing DHEA and other hormones. 

Read more about how to naturally eliminate the symptoms of menopause in this article

Improve Your Mood

Studies have shown that maca is a great mood-booster, largely due to the presence of flavonoids. Flavonoids are believed to reduce depression and anxiety. 

Boost Energy and Endurance

Maca has become the endurance-enhancing supplement of choice for many athletes and fitness fundis. It has also been touted for increasing muscle mass. While these benefits are widespread anecdotally, currently, no scientific evidence exists to support them.

Protect Skin from Sun

Interestingly, Maca has been shown to protect the skin from sun damage. In a study conducted on rats by the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, it was concluded that Maca can provide protection for the skin against UV radiation in a similar fashion to conventional sunscreen. 

Improve Brain Health and Memory

One of the amazing Maca powder benefits is how it can boost your brain power! Maca can increase mitochondrial activity and regulate autophagy signaling (both of which typically decrease with age and can lead to cognitive impairment). It could therefore be an effective tool in slowing down an age-related decline in cognition. 

Increase Libido

So now that we know Maca is good for more than just your mojo, let’s dive into how it can increase sexual desire and help with a low sex drive in both men and women. Studies have shown that Maca, when taken regularly over a period of time, can increase libido. 

To help get your groove back, add 5 grams of Maca to your smoothie in the morning and enjoy a second dose at lunch (daily).

I’ve written loads on why Maca can help with low libido and sexual dysfunction. Check out these articles for more information:

9 Ways to Revive Your Hypothyroid Libido + 7 Libido Boosting Foods

How to Naturally Increase Your Sex Drive in 13 Ways!

How to Boost Low Sex Drive After Stopping The Birth Control Pill

Increase Fertility

There are studies that show that when maca is taken by men, it can help increase the volume and motility of sperm, thereby increasing fertility. 

In women, maca promotes balanced estrogen and progesterone levels. When these hormones are out of balance, and are too high or too low at the wrong times in your cycle, it can affect your ability to conceive. 

Reduce Blood Pressure

There is research pointing to the ability of maca root to reduce blood pressure. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over 2015 study conducted on postmenopausal women in China, it was discovered that daily doses of maca for 12 weeks led to reduced blood pressure. 

Increase Antioxidants

Maca root is an effective tool to decrease the effects of free radicals in the body by encouraging antioxidants (such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase) to flourish. Free radicals cause damage to cells in the body, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals, and are therefore vital. 

How does maca root regulate hormones?

Since maca is an adaptogen, it helps regulate the body’s response to stress. Healthy cortisol levels enable the body to put less energy into the stress response and more energy into balancing other hormones. 

Maca nourishes the hypothalamus in the brain and the pituitary gland. Since these are responsible for the proper function of so many systems in the body (I’m talking the thyroid, pancreas, ovaries and more!), when they are properly stimulated, it can lead to a positive ripple effect throughout the body. 

The full effect of maca on hormones is not fully understood yet, but there is research that indicates that maca has a positive impact. 

Why does maca alleviate menopausal symptoms?

This is another facet of maca that is not completely understood yet, but maca is packed with nutrients that help regulate estrogen and other hormone levels. This leads to fewer hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women. 

After menopause, women are more prone to osteoporosis, and there is research that shows that maca can be helpful in improving bone density. 

Loss of libido is common in menopausal women, and maca is an effective tool in supporting sexual function. 

Are there any risks associated with maca powder?

While maca is generally considered safe, it’s important to note that (like any supplement) it may not work for everyone. 

Side Effects

Maca can cause stomach discomfort in some women. If this is true for you, try lowering the dosage. 

Some women also find maca too stimulating (it causes a “wired” feeling in some people). Try a lower dose and slowly work your way up as your body gets used to the herb.

Warnings 

For some women, maca can be overstimulating. This is why I recommend the Mighty Maca blend and going slow. If it makes you feel too stimulated then it might not be for you. It’s best to speak with your medical practitioner when deciding whether adding maca to your regimen is a good idea. 

Women who are pregnant should not take maca.

Dosage

First things first: If you’re consuming maca root (not the powdered or capsule form), ensure that it is boiled first.

Typical starting dose is 500–1,000 mg daily (if you feel jittery after, lower your dosage and increase it slowly over time).

Work up to a full daily dose of 1.5–5 grams.

Maca Powder Benefits in Summary

Maca (also called Peruvian ginseng) is a South American adaptogenic crucifer grown in the Andes. It has many potential health benefits for men and women, including better brain function, increased libido and fertility, UV protection and more. As an adaptogen, it works to regulate stress in the body, leading to better hormonal balance. 

Maca is a potent herb that can be overstimulating for some—it can cause a “wiredness” similar to that after consuming caffeine. If this is the case for you, start small and work up to a full daily dose, so your body has time to adjust. 

Citations

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1534053/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331589/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18201354

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27648102

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472620

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11753476/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24931003

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614604/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614644/



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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is one of the leading experts in women’s medicine and is a pioneer in her exploration of the far-reaching impact of hormonal birth control and the little known side effects that impact health in a large way. In her best selling book, Beyond the Pill, she shares her clinical protocols aimed at supporting women struggling with symptoms of hormone imbalance, including Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome and birth control related side effects. A trained nutritional biochemist and Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Brighten is the founder and Clinic Director at Rubus Health, an integrative women’s medicine clinic. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, ABC news, and the New York Post. Read more about me here.