Maca (Lepidium meyenii) comes from a root of the radish family that grows high in the Peruvian Andes Mountains of South America. For hundreds of years native Peruvians have used Maca for its ability to increase energy and stamina and, more popularly, for its effectiveness as an aphrodisiac.
According to local folklore, Maca, (also called Peruvian Ginseng), was introduced to Spanish explorers by the native Incas sometime during the 16th century. Although their livestock survived the arduous journey, they were weak and infertile. Upon the advice of the Incas, the Spaniards fed Maca to their horses and other animals; within a short period of time, the livestock regained its health and started to reproduce normally. In addition to its use for fertility, Inca warriors would eat Maca before battles to promote strength and stamina. Maca is still a staple in the Peruvian diet. The root may be roasted like a potato, or it may be used to make jam, pudding, juice or soup. As an aphrodisiac, Maca is typically formulated into a capsule.
In Peruvian herbal medicine today, maca is reported to be used as an immunostimulant; for anemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility (and other reproductive and sexual disorders); and to enhance memory. Maca's history as a powerful strength and stamina enhancer and libido-fertility herb stretches back well over five hundred years. Maca's fertility- enhancing properties were reported as early as 1961, when researchers discovered that it increased fertility in rats. Maca is a powerful adaptogen that can help balance our body's systems. Maca can stabilize blood pressure, boost immunity, and harmonize the body's overall vitality.
Make no doubt - maca is a wonderful source of natural vital nutrients. The synergy of so many amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in their natural states may increase the assimilation, uptake, and utilization of them in the body. The nutritional value of dried maca root is high, resembling those of cereal grains such as maize, rice, and wheat. It contains 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% fiber, and 2.2% lipids. The protein content of maca exists mainly in the form of polypeptides and amino acids (including significant amounts of arginine, serine, histidine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and threonine). It also has about 250 mg of calcium, 2 g of potassium, and 15 mg of iron in 100 g of dried root-and important amounts of fatty acids (including linolenic, palmitic, and oleic acids). Maca contains sterols (about 0.05% to 0.1%) and other vitamins and minerals. In addition to its rich supply of essential nutrients, maca contains alkaloids, tannins, and saponins.
Maca root contains sterols, uridine, malic acid, macamides, and glucosinolates. Oil components include phenyl acetonitrile and benzaldehyde. Many of the compounds in maca have an effect on the central nervous system. The mechanism of action of maca is presently not well understood, but probably seems to be independent of a hormonal effect since studies show maca does not influence blood levels of hormones, for instance testosterone. Maca has alkaloids, steroids, tannins, saponins, and cardiotonic glycosides.
Energizes and revitalizes physical and mental strength
Regulates menstruation and lessens menopausal symptoms
Aids in fertility and as an aphrodisiac
Lepidium meyenii ( Maca ) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. This maca study was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with a placebo. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that Maca has no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels in apparently healthy men when administered in doses used for aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. Men aged between 21 and 56 Years received 1500 mg or 3000 mg Maca. Serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone and 17-beta estradiol were measured before and at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment with placebo or Maca (1.5 g or 3.0 g per day). Data showed that compared with placebo Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time. Multiple regression analysis showed that serum testosterone levels were not affected by treatment with Maca at any of the times studied. In conclusion, treatment with Maca does not affect serum reproductive hormone levels.
This maca study was a 12-week double blind placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with placebo. The study aimed to demonstrate if effect of Maca on subjective report of sexual desire was because of effect on mood or serum testosterone levels. Men aged 21-56 years received maca in one of two doses: 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg or placebo. Self-perception on sexual desire, score for Hamilton test for depression, and Hamilton test for anxiety were measured at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of maca treatment. An improvement in sexual desire was observed with maca since 8 weeks of treatment. Serum testosterone and estradiol levels were not different in men treated with maca and in those treated with placebo. Logistic regression analysis showed that maca has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, and this effect is not because of changes in either Hamilton scores for depression or anxiety or serum testosterone and estradiol levels. In conclusion, treatment with maca improved sexual desire.
Lepidium meyenii ( Maca ) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed properties in improving fertility. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of subacute oral administration of hexanic, methanolic and chloroformic extracts of Maca root on sexual performance in inexperienced male rats. The following sexual performance parameters were evaluated: 1st mount, 1st intromission, ejaculation and post-ejaculatory latencies, intercopulatory interval and copulatory efficacy. All the tested fractions significantly decreased intromission latency and intercopulatory interval and increased intromission frequency and copulatory efficacy (P < 0.05) as compared to controls. Hexanic and methanolic extracts were able to increase mount frequency (MF), while only hexanic fraction significantly improved mount latency. Globally, only the hexanic fraction significantly improved the majority of the sexual parameters measured. Sub-acute oral administration of hexanic Maca extract improved sexual performance parameters in sexually inexperienced male rats most effectively.
Lepidium meyenii Walpers ( Maca root ) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed properties to improve energy and fertility. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of acute and chronic Maca pulverised root oral administration on rat sexual behaviour. Sixty male sexually experienced rats (20 group) were daily treated for 15 days with Maca 15 mg kg(-1), Maca 75 mg kg(-1) or saline 0.5 ml kg(-1). The following sexual performance parameters were evaluated at first and last day of treatment: 1st mount (ML), 1st intromission (IL), ejaculation (EL) and postejaculatory (PEL) latencies, intercopulatory interval (ICI) and copulatory efficacy (CE). An activity cage test was carried out to evaluate if Maca-induced locomotion changes could indirectly improve rat sexual performances. It was observed that both lower and higher Maca doses acutely decreased ML, IL and ICI in a significant way (P < 0.05), while only the 75 mg kg(-1) dose decreased the PEL (T = 29, P < 0.05). This effect seems to be the only one dose-dependent. After 15 days of treatment, both doses are able to significantly decrease ML, IL, EL and PEL, while the 75 mg kg(-1) dose decreased the ICI (T = 40, P < 0.05) too. IL, EL and PEL variations seem to be dose-related after chronic treatment. Moreover, chronic Maca treatment induced an apparently not dose-related increase in rat locomotion, during the second 10-min period of observation in the activity cage. The late in Maca-induced locomotion modification excludes that improvement of tested sexual performance parameters is related to an increase in rat aspecific activity. Thus, it was concluded that both acute and chronic Maca oral administration significantly improve sexual performance parameters in male rats.
Epidemiological studies have found that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This effect seems to be due to aromatic glucosinolate content. Glucosinolates are known for have both antiproliferative and proapoptotic actions.Maca is a cruciferous cultivated in the highlands of Peru. The absolute content of glucosinolates in Maca hypocotyls is relatively higher than that reported in other cruciferous crops. Therefore, Maca may have proapoptotic and anti-proliferative effects in the prostate. METHODS: Male rats treated with or without aqueous extracts of three ecotypes of Maca (Yellow, Black and Red) were analyzed to determine the effect on ventral prostate weight, epithelial height and duct luminal area. Effects on serum testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) levels were also assessed. Besides, the effect of Red Maca on prostate was analyzed in rats treated with testosterone enanthate (TE). RESULTS: Red Maca but neither Yellow nor Black Maca reduced significantly ventral prostate size in rats. Serum T or E2 levels were not affected by any of the ecotypes of Maca assessed. Red Maca also prevented the prostate weight increase induced by TE treatment. Red Maca administered for 42 days reduced ventral prostatic epithelial height. TE increased ventral prostatic epithelial height and duct luminal area. These increases by TE were reduced after treatment with Red Maca for 42 days. Histology pictures in rats treated with Red Maca plus TE were similar to controls. Phytochemical screening showed that aqueous extract of Red Maca has alkaloids, steroids, tannins, saponins, and cardiotonic glycosides. The IR spectra of the three ecotypes of Maca in 3800-650 cm (-1) region had 7 peaks representing 7 functional chemical groups. Highest peak values were observed for Red Maca, intermediate values for Yellow Maca and low values for Black Maca. These functional groups correspond among others to benzyl glucosinolate. CONCLUSIONS: Red Maca, a cruciferous plant from the highland of Peru, reduced ventral prostate size in normal and TE treated rats.
Objective: To evaluate the effect of the alcoholic extract of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on the spermatogenesis in male rats. Method: In Holtzman rats, Maca alcoholic extract (5 %) was given by oral route at doses of 48 mg/day or 96 mg/day for 7 days, 14 days and 21 days. Testicular function was assessed by measurements of lengths of different stages of seminiferous epithelia and by epididymal sperm count. RESULTS: Ethanolic extract of Maca increased the length of stages IX-XI of seminiferous epithelium at treatment day 7, day 14 and day 21. Progression of spermatogenesis was evident only after day 21 when lengths of stages XII-XIV of seminiferous epithelium were increased; at day 7 and day 14, no important change in spermatogenesis was observed. Epididymal sperm count was increased with 48 mg/day at all times. With 96 mg/day an increase in sperm count was observed at day 7, but it was reduced at day 14 and day 21 of treatment. Serum testosterone levels were not affected. CONCLUSION: The alcoholic extract of Maca activates onset ant progression of spermatogenesis at 48 mg/day or 96 mg/day in rats.
BACKGROUND: Lepidium meyenii, known as Maca, grows exclusively in the Peruvian Andes over 4000 m altitude. It has been used traditionally to increase fertility. Previous scientific studies have demonstrated that Maca increases spermatogenesis and epididymal sperm count. The present study was aimed to investigate the effects of Maca on several fertility parameters of female mice at reproductive age. METHODS: Adult female Balb/C mice were divided at random into three main groups: i) Reproductive indexes group, ii) Implantation sites group and iii) Assessment of uterine weight in ovariectomized mice. Animals received an aqueous extract of lyophilized Yellow Maca (1 g/Kg BW) or vehicle orally as treatment. In the fertility indexes study, animals received the treatment before, during and after gestation. The fertility index, gestation index, post-natal viability index, weaning viability index and sex ratio were calculated. Sexual maturation was evaluated in the female pups by the vaginal opening (VO) day. In the implantation study, females were checked for implantation sites at gestation day 7 and the embryos were counted. In ovariectomized mice, the uterine weight was recorded at the end of treatment. RESULTS: Implantation sites were similar in mice treated with Maca and in controls. All reproductive indexes were similar in both groups of treatment. The number of pups per dam at birth and at postnatal day 4 was significantly higher in the group treated with Maca. VO day occurred earlier as litter size was smaller. Maca did not affect VO day. In ovariectomized mice, the treatment with Maca increased significantly the uterine weights in comparison to their respective control group. CONCLUSION: Administration of aqueous extract of Yellow Maca to adult female mice increases the litter size. Moreover, this treatment increases the uterine weight in ovariectomized animals. Our study confirms for the first time some of the traditional uses of Maca to enhance female fertility.
Lepidium meyenii ( Maca ) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed fertility-enhancing properties. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that Maca can prevent high altitude-induced testicular disturbances. Adult male rats were exposed for 21 days to an altitude of 4340 m and treated with vehicle or aqueous extract of Maca. The lengths of the stages of the seminiferous epithelium and epididymal sperm counts were obtained at 0, 7, 14 and 21 days of exposure. The stages of the seminiferous tubules were assessed by transillumination. A dose-response study was also performed at sea level to determine the effect of Maca given to male rats for 7 days on body weight, seminiferous tubule stages and epididymal sperm count. The length of stage VIII and the epididymal sperm count were increased in a dose-dependent manner in Maca-treated rats but treatment reduced the length of stage I. At the highest dose, sperm count increased 1.58 times, the length of stage VIII increased 2.4 times and the length of stage I was reduced 0.48 times compared with the value at dose 0. Exposure to high altitude resulted in a reduction in epididymal sperm count after 7 days and lower values were maintained up to 21 days. Altitude reduced spermiation (stage VIII) to half and the onset of spermatogenesis to a quarter on days 7 and 14 but treatment with Maca (666.6 mg/day) prevented these changes. Data on transillumination and epididymal sperm count in the Maca-treated group exposed to high altitude were similar to those obtained at sea level. Maca increased the sperm count on day 21 of exposure to high altitude to values similar to those obtained in the Maca-treated group at sea level. Furthermore, in the Maca-treated group exposed for 21 days to high altitude, epididymal sperm count was higher than in the non-treated group at sea level sperm). In conclusion, treatment of rats with Maca at high altitude prevented high altitude-induced spermatogenic disruption.
AIM: To determine the effect of oral administration of an aqueous extract from the roots of Lepidium meyenii (maca) on spermatogenesis in adult male rats.
METHODS: Male rats received an aqueous extract of the root (66.7 mg in one mL) twice a day for 14 consecutive days.
RESULTS: Treatment with Lepidium meyenii resulted in an increase in the weights of testis and epididymis but not the seminal vesicle weight. The length and frequency of stages IX-XIV seminiferous tubules, where mitosis occurred, were increased and stages I-VI were reduced in rats treated with Lepidium meyenii.
CONCLUSION: The maca root invigorates spermatogenesis in male rats by acting on its initial stages (IX-XIV).
Gary F. Gordon, M.D., former President of the American College for Advancement in Medicine, now founder and president of the International College of Advanced Longetivity Medicine, located in Chicago, Illinois, knows first hand the value of Maca. "We all hear rumors about various products like Maca," he says. "but using this Peruvian root myself, I personally experienced a significant improvement in erectile tissue response.
Dr. Gordon explains that Maca works by normalizing our steroid hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Therefore it has the facility to forestall the hormonal changes of aging. It acts on men to restore them to a healthy functional status in which they experience a more active libido." Lots of men and women who previously believed their sexual problems were psychological are now clearly going to look for something physiological to improve quality of life in the area of sexuality" says Dr. Gordon. "In other words, I believe that people who engage in sex twice a week or more live longer. I've found sexual activity to be a reliable marker for overall aging."
Henry Camponile, M.D., of St. Petersburg, Florida states that his first menopausal patient "started to feel better four days after she began taking Maca," and finds that it promotes energy unlike any other herb he has used.
Hugo Malaspina, M.D., a cardiologist practicing complementary medicine in Lima, Peru, has been using Maca in his practice for more than ten years. Dr. Malaspina first found out about Maca through a group of sexually active older men who were taking the herb with good results. "One of this group started taking Maca and found he was able to perform satisfactorily in a sexual relationship with a lady friend. Soon everyone in the group began drinking the powdered Maca as a beverage and enjoying the boost that the root was giving their hormonal functions. I have several of these men as patients, and their improvement prompted me to find out more about Maca and begin recommending it to my other patients."
Dr. Malaspina frequently prescribes Maca to women experiencing premenstrual discomfort or menopausal symptoms. "There are different medicinal plants that work on the ovaries by stimulating them," he says. "With Maca though, we should say that it regulates the ovarian function." Dr. Malaspina further notes that "Maca regulates the organs of internal secretion, such as the pituitary, the adrenal glands, and the pancreas. I have had perhaps two hundred female patients whose perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms are alleviated by taking Maca."
Mark Smith , M.D has said, "I have noticed a significant level of more balanced energy, stamina & endurance markedly during cardiovascular workouts using Maca". Viagra, on the other hand has been associated with at least 70 cardiovascular related deaths.
Burton Goldberg, president of Future Medicine Publishing in Tiburon, California, whose latest book is An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer, is another enthusiast of Maca. He says that when he tried Maca he was very pleased with the results and began taking it regularly. "I'm a 72 year- old man and this Maca has taken 25 years off my aging sex life," declares Goldberg. "That's pretty important to me!"