Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc
What is maca and why has it suddenly become popular in North America? Maca is an energy booster with a multitude of health benefits.
What is maca (Lepidium meyenii) and why has it suddenly become popular in North America? Maca is an energy booster that relieves insomnia, stress, and depression while increasing libido.
Maca’s popularity may also be due to public demand for safe alternatives to prescribed hormone replacement therapy, which has been linked to higher incidences of heart disease, cancer, and stroke. To date, no toxicity or problems with drug interactions have been reported by maca users.
A cruciferous vegetable of the mustard family, maca is related to radishes and turnips; maca grows at altitudes of 14,500 feet (4,420 metres) in the Andean mountains of Peru, where few other plants can survive.
Maca (also known as Peruvian ginseng) is rich in medicinal compounds, including alkaloids, amino acids, glucosinolates, and sterols. The herb is regarded as an adaptogen that helps the body fight stress. It elevates pituitary and adrenal hormones when they are too low and reduces them when they are too high.
Available in powdered, liquefied, and capsule forms, look for brands that use only pure maca root, grown following organic standards. Buy gelatinized maca for its enhanced potency and absorption.
Typical dosage for most adults is 1,500 mg twice daily, but several times this amount can be taken safely. Although the majority of maca users are middle-aged men and women, maca can be used by people of any age.
Benefits of Maca: