Benefits of Maca Root and Potential Side Effects
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Maca is a type of plant that has been consumed by various peoples of Peru for thousands of years and has also been used medicinally.
Maca has experienced a surge in popularity over the past few decades as a natural treatment for a variety of health conditions, including infertility and a lack of sexual drive, all over the world.
This article provides an explanation of what maca root is, identifies four potential benefits, and answers the question of whether or not using it in your diet is safe.
What precisely is maca?
The maca plant, which is also known as Peruvian ginseng and has the scientific name Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes called ginseng.
Maca is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.
The high plateaus of the Andes Mountains in Peru are where maca first appeared in the world.
In point of fact, inhabitants in the Andean region have been cultivating maca for more than two thousand years. Above 4,000 metres (13,123 feet) in the Peruvian Andes, it is one of the few edible plants that are able to withstand severe weather conditions.
Maca was traditionally utilised as cuisine by the people of the Andes, who consumed it either as a fermented beverage or as a porridge. Additionally, Andean people employed maca as a natural medication to cure a variety of health ailments, including rheumatic disease and respiratory diseases, such as asthma and allergies.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the market for goods containing maca, most likely as a result of claims that the plant can increase libido and fertility.
People in other parts of the world, such as China’s mountainous Yunnan province, have begun cultivating maca on a large scale in response to the growing demand for maca on a global scale. Maca is a plant that is native to Peru.
Fibre, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals can all be found in maca root, which is the component of the plant that is typically consumed.
Other bioactive substances, such as macamides, macaridine, alkaloids, and glucosinolates, are also found in maca, and it is believed that these compounds are what are responsible for maca’s medical advantages.
In spite of the fact that many people assert that maca is beneficial to health in a variety of ways, there is currently very little research on it, and the outcomes of the studies that have been conducted on its effects have been contradictory. More studies are needed to determine whether or not maca is useful.
The following are some possible advantages of using maca.
Maca has been consumed by the people of Peru both as a food and as a form of natural medicine for thousands of years. Over the course of the past few decades, it has gained widespread popularity across the globe, notably due to the positive effects that it has on fertility and libido.
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1. Could lead to an increase in libido
There is some evidence to suggest that individuals who struggle with low libido or poor sexual desire may benefit from taking concentrated maca pills.
A study conducted in 2015 on 45 women who were having antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction discovered that taking 3,000 milligrammes of maca root per day for a period of 12 weeks resulted in a significant improvement in sexual function as well as libido in comparison to taking a placebo.
After at least six weeks of use, there was evidence that taking maca boosted sexual desire, according to a review that was published in 2010 and comprised four high-quality trials with a total of 131 participants.
The researchers did remark that the studies that were included in the study were on a smaller scale and that there was insufficient information to come to any definitive conclusions.
In spite of the fact that these studies have shown encouraging results, it is still unknown whether or not maca has any practical benefits for treating sexual dysfunction or low libido.
There is some evidence to show that maca can assist boost sexual desire in certain people. However, this research is limited. However, there hasn’t been a lot of research done yet.
2. Has the potential to boost certain aspects of a man’s fertility
People who have sperm in their bodies may find that taking maca supplements helps increase certain aspects of their fertility.
Studies have indicated, for instance, that consuming maca may assist boost sperm concentration, which refers to the number of sperm that can be found in one millilitre of semen. There is a strong correlation between sperm count and male fertility.
Maca was given to 69 males who had either a mildly low sperm count or decreased sperm motility for the purpose of a study that was published in 2020. The capacity of sperm to swim effectively is referred to as their motility.
In comparison to receiving a placebo therapy, participants who took 2 grammes of maca per day for a period of 12 weeks saw a significant increase in the concentration of their sperm. However, neither the treatment nor the placebo groups showed a statistically significant difference in the motility of the sperm.
Despite the fact that these results are encouraging, there is still a lack of study. For the purpose of investigating the impact of maca supplements on the quality of sperm and other elements of male fertility, studies that are well planned are required.
There is some evidence that maca can assist increase the overall quality of sperm. However, additional research is required to get a complete understanding of how maca affects male fertility.
3. May assist in the alleviation of menopausal symptoms
Menopause is a natural process that occurs in women and men who have had periods. It is the point in a woman’s life when she will no longer experience menstruation.
During this time period, the body experiences a natural reduction in oestrogen, which can result in a variety of symptoms, some of which individuals may find to be distressing. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, trouble sleeping, and irritability are all examples of these symptoms.
Maca may be beneficial to persons going through menopause since it may help ease several symptoms, such as hot flashes and disrupted sleep, that is associated with this transitional period in a woman’s life.
Maca treatment was shown to provide some evidence of beneficial benefits on menopause symptoms in a review that was conducted in 2011 and comprised four trials of high quality.
The researchers did highlight, however, that there is not enough information to evaluate whether or not maca is safe or helpful for treating symptoms associated with menopause.
Maca may be able to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopause, according to the little research available. On the other hand, there is not enough research to tell whether or not maca is safe or helpful for treating menopause symptoms in everyone.
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4. Could boost one’s mood and level of energy
There is some evidence that maca can assist increase energy levels and enhance mood in certain individuals. However, this research is limited.
A study conducted in 2016 on 175 persons who lived either at low or high altitudes found that consuming 3 grammes of red or black maca per day for a period of 12 weeks resulted in significantly higher mood and energy scores compared to taking a placebo.
In addition, a study that was conducted in 2015 on a group of 29 Chinese postmenopausal women found that therapy with 3.3 grammes of maca per day for a period of 6 weeks reduced symptoms of depression in comparison to treatment with a placebo.
In addition, evidence from earlier studies suggests that maca may be beneficial for lowering feelings of anxiety and sadness in postmenopausal women.
There is not enough evidence available at this time to make any conclusive statements regarding the effects that maca may have on one’s state of mind or level of energy.
There is some evidence to show that maca can aid raise energy levels and have a mood-boosting effect. However, there hasn’t been a lot of research done yet.
Additional prospective positive effects on health
There hasn’t been a lot of research done on humans to look into the possible health advantages of maca.
However, preliminary findings from studies conducted on animals suggest that maca may impact human health in the following ways:
Could aid to maintain proper cognitive function. Studies on rodents have shown that maca helps improve cognitive function and motor coordination, and there is some evidence that it may also help slow the cognitive decline that comes with ageing.
Could be helpful for patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Maca may be able to help lower inflammatory proteins and suppress BPH, often known as enlargement of the prostate, according to findings from studies conducted on animals.
Could be beneficial to the skin’s health. It has been demonstrated that maca can speed up the healing process of wounds, and an older study discovered that when applied to the skin of animals, it protects against UV damage.
Keep in mind that there is currently no evidence that these possible benefits apply to humans, therefore in order to study them, research on humans would be required.
There is some preliminary evidence from studies conducted on animals that suggests maca may be beneficial for BPH, cognitive health, and skin health.
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Concerning risk and adverse consequences.
Studies have shown that maca is generally safe and that using it does not come with any negative side effects.
A study that was conducted in 2016 on 175 persons indicated that taking 3 grammes of red or black maca per day for a period of 12 weeks was safe and was not connected with any major adverse effects.
Traditional means of consuming maca, such as boiling it and then eating it or drinking it, have not been connected to any detrimental consequences either. People have traditionally employed these methods.
It is not known at this time if it is safe to consume maca during pregnancy or nursing; therefore, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with their healthcare team before using maca.
Maca is generally regarded as being risk-free for consumption. Before using maca, however, you should consult a reliable medical professional if you have a health issue, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if any of these other situations apply to you. It’s possible that some people won’t find it suitable or safe to do so.
Maca: How to Use It
Maca is offered for purchase in a wide variety of formats, including powders and capsules.
Smoothies, oatmeal, baked products, energy bars, and more can all benefit from the addition of maca powder. Because it has a flavour that is reminiscent of butterscotch and nuts, it goes well with a wide variety of sweeter flavours.
It has not yet been determined what the best dose is for therapeutic purposes. However, the amount of maca root powder that is typically employed in research falls anywhere between 1.5 and 3 grammes per day.
You may buy maca at some grocery stores, health food stores, and numerous internet vendors. Maca is also sold at several supermarkets. In addition, there is a fantastic assortment accessible on Amazon, along with thousands of customer reviews.
Talk to a competent healthcare expert such as a registered dietitian or a physician if you want to ensure that you select maca of a higher grade or if you want to acquire a specific dosage suggestion.
The powdered form of maca root may be found almost anywhere and is simple to include in one’s diet.
Even though there hasn’t been a lot of research done on the possible health benefits of maca, there is some evidence to suggest that taking maca supplements might help improve certain aspects of sexual health and fertility, and it also might help reduce the symptoms of menopause and improve mood in certain people.
However, before maca can be suggested for treating any health issue or symptom, researchers need to do additional and more in-depth studies on the plant.
Before beginning to take maca, you should discuss your plans with a qualified medical practitioner. They are able to assist you in determining whether or not maca is an appropriate solution for your specific health requirements.