Maca Root - Helping Hormones
Maca Root is a tuber also known as “Peruvian Ginseng.” The growing conditions are very specific and it only thrives in the glaciated slopes of the Andes, where locals ate it raw, cooked or boiled and it became an everyday staple. Maca is a close relative radish and has gained a reputation for helping balance hormones. Maca contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production. It is naturally high in minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc), sterols (6 found), up to 20 essential fatty acids, lipids, fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Maca root helps balance hormones and due to an excess of environmental estrogens, most people’s hormones are out of natural balance. Maca stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which are the “master glands” of the body. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when in balance they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.
Maca root has been shown to be helpful for many hormonal problems including PMS, menopause, and hot flashes. It is also a fertility enhancer and is known for improving libido and sexual function, especially in men. For this reason, it’s earned the nickname “nature’s Viagra.”
Maca is an “adaptogen”, a name given to certain herbs, plants, and natural substances that help the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, a demanding job, or illness, for example. Consuming maca often makes people feel more energetic and leaves them with a sense of well-being, all of which are thought to be due to its ability to restore proper hormone balance and elevate feel good endorphins. Another benefit of maca is its relatively high amount of absorbable plant-based nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium, among others.
Maca root powder is made up of approximately 18% protein, 76.5% carbohydrates, 5% fat, and 8.5% fibre. Maca provides a powerful source of nutrition, including:
Over 20 amino acids, including the 8 essential amino acids - 20 free-form fatty acids (such as lauric, linolenic, palmitic acid, oleic , and steric acid) - Vitamins B-1, B-2, C and E - Calcium - Magnesium - Potassium - Copper - Zinc - Manganese - Phosphorus - Selenium - Sulphur - Sodium - Iron - Maca is also a rich source of phytonutrients.
Top 5 Maca Root Benefits
Although maca itself contains no actual hormones, most of maca root’s benefits are attributed to its ability to help restore sexual, endocrine (hormonal) and mental health. Here are our top 5 Maca root benefits:
1. PMS, Menopause, and Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Maca Root is known to help with hormone balance that often contributes to improving the symptoms of PMS and Menopause. In females with PCOS, maca is believed to assist by regulating estrogen levels in the body.
2. Women’s Hormones, Fertility, and Sexual Health: A 2008 study from the journal menopause showed that maca benefits had positive results on boosting menopausal women’s moods and decreasing levels of anxiety and depression.
Maca is believed to restore women’s hormonal balance by nurturing the endocrine system and assisting in the regulation of healthy adrenal and thyroid hormone production.
The adrenal gland and thyroid gland play a major part in regulating many feelings – everything from stress levels to appetite. Restoring the health of these glands is vital for someone wanting to feel their best.
3. Male’s Testosterone Levels and Fertility: Red maca has benefits for male hormonal health. It has been shown to reduce prostate size in studies done on male rats. This points to the conclusion that maca may possibly help improve human prostate health as well. In other studies, maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, mobility and volume, all important factors of increasing fertility.
4. Energy, Memory and Mood: Clinical trials have shown that maca has positive impact on energy, stamina and mood. Maintaining positive energy levels is linked to having lower levels of anxiety and depression, both of which maca has been shown to help achieve. Exactly how maca increases energy is still unknown, however it’s believed that it may be able to do so by helping to stabilize blood sugar levels (which decrease energy spikes and dips) and to maintain adrenal health, which helps stabilize mood and energy throughout the day.
5. Antioxidant Booster: Maca root acts as a natural antioxidant and boosts levels of glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase). These are two big disease fighters in the body. Results from recent studies demonstrate that maca root has the ability to help prevent the development of chronic human diseases that are characterized by high levels of “bad” cholesterol, high antioxidative levels and impaired glucose tolerance. Plus, Maca improves glucose tolerance, by lowering levels of glucose in blood. This is especially important for those who need monitor heart health and conditions like diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Maca Side Effects: Although maca does not generally produce negative side effects in users and has been safely consumed for thousands of years, there is still more to know about the exact safety and side effects of taking maca for medicinal benefits.
Because of maca’s effects on hormone levels, physicians advise that maca should not be consumed by people who rely on hormone-altering medications for treatment of illnesses such as breast cancer or prostate cancer. People who have high blood pressure are also advised to not take maca. More research is still required on whether or not maca is safe for use in pregnant or nursing women. Please always check with your health care professional.
Where to Buy Maca: Maca can be found in most health food stores and health sections of our supermarkets in powder form. You may also find it available in capsule, liquid, or extract form. All forms are thought to be equally beneficial, however its best to buy maca from a quality harvester that ensures its 100% pure maca root powder and ideally look for a variety that is raw and organic.