Some Peruvian ethnic groups have been using maca as a diet and medication for thousands of years.

The use of maca as a natural treatment for ailments including infertility and poor sex drive has increased over the past few decades.

This page defines maca root, lists four potential advantages, and addresses the question of whether it's safe to include it in your diet.

What is  Maca?

Lepidium meyenii, the scientific name for the maca plant, is also known as Peruvian ginseng.

A cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, maca also belongs to this family.

The upper plateaus of the Andes mountain range in Peru are where maca is indigenous.

In actuality, maca has been grown by Andeans for more than 2,000 years. In the Peruvian Andes, above 4,000 metres, it is one of the few edible plants that can endure the severe weather.

Maca was traditionally consumed as food by the Andean people, either in the form of porridge or a fermented beverage. Additionally, the Andean people employed maca as a natural medication to treat a variety of illnesses like rheumatic disease and respiratory problems.

People have started mass-producing maca in various places of the world, including the mountainous Yunnan province in China, because to the increase in demand for this plant worldwide.

The plant's most widely utilised component, maca root, has fibre, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

It also contains additional bioactive substances that are assumed to be the source of maca's therapeutic properties, such as macamides, macaridine, alkaloids, and glucosinolates.

Although maca is said to improve health in a variety of ways, there is currently little research on the subject and the results of studies on it have been conflicting. The usefulness of maca needs more study.

Here are some possible advantages of maca.

1. May improve mood and energy:

Scattered research points to the possibility that maca may support some populations' efforts to increase mood and energy.

In contrast to a placebo, eating 3 grammes of red or black maca per day for 12 weeks increased mood and energy ratings in a 2016 research of 175 adults living at either low or high elevations.

Furthermore, 3.3 grammes of maca taken daily for six weeks reduced depressive symptoms in comparison to a placebo treatment, according to a 2015 research of 29 postmenopausal Chinese women.

Older studies have also shown that maca may aid postmenopausal women by lessening their symptoms of anxiety and despair.

Although there is some evidence that maca improves mood and energy levels, more research is needed before making any definitive judgments.

2. Could lessen menopausal symptoms

Menstruating individuals normally experience menopause. At this point in life, menstruation ends forever.

Various symptoms, some of which people may find unpleasant, can be brought on by the normal fall in oestrogen that takes place throughout this time. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep issues, and irritability are a few of them.

According to some research, maca may help menopausal women by reducing some of their symptoms, such as hot flashes and restless nights.

There is some evidence that using maca supplements will reduce the symptoms of menopause, according to a 2011 review that included four high quality trials.

3. Might enhance several elements of male fertility

Taking maca supplements could assist sperm-bearing individuals become more fertile in several ways.

For instance, research suggests that consuming maca may increase sperm concentration, or the quantity of sperm per millilitre of semen.

Male fertility and sperm concentration are tightly related.

In 69 men who had been given a diagnosis of modest low sperm count or impaired sperm motility, a 2020 study examined the effects of maca. Sperm motility refers to a sperm's ability to swim normally.

Compared to a placebo, semen concentration was dramatically increased while taking 2 grammes of maca per day for 12 weeks. However, sperm motility did not significantly differ between the treatment and placebo groups.

4. Might boost libido

According to some research, persons who have low libido or low sexual desire may benefit from taking concentrated maca pills.

In a 2015 study, it was discovered that consuming 3,000 mg of maca root daily for 12 weeks dramatically increased libido and improved sexual function in 45 women who were suffering from antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

There is evidence that ingesting maca boosted sexual desire after at least 6 weeks, according to a 2010 review that comprised four high-quality research and 131 participants.

The review's authors did point out that because the studies were tiny and the amount of evidence was inadequate, no strong conclusions could be made.

Although this research is encouraging, it's not yet known whether maca actually helps with low libido or other sexual dysfunctions.