Maca Benefits: A Super Herb That’s Been Used to Heal a Variety of Health Conditions
The Peruvian herb, maca, is not only one of the best known natural aphrodisiacs, but is also highly beneficial to your health…
Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a hearty root vegetable belonging to the radish family, grows in the high Andean plateaus of Peru. It has gained the reputation of being a super herb in recent years, and the benefits of maca have been used for over 2,000 years to heal a variety of health conditions.
It is best known for its ability to enhance fertility and libido. Even before the Spanish conquistadors colonized the Inca Empire in the 16th century, the Incas had already been using maca for a multitude of health reasons.
In 1960, Gloria Chacon de Popovici, Ph.D., a Peruvian biologist, isolated the 4 alkaloids responsible for maca’s reputed positive effect on hormonal issues such as hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss — and even male impotence.
Maca’s reputation for restoring physical strength and libido has caused many a South American to nickname it “Spanish Viagra.” [Note: Maca bears no resemblance to, nor does it have any association with, the trademarked drug after which it is nicknamed.]
Throughout its long history of therapeutic use, maca has been shown to provide the following health benefits:
- It is a powerful natural aphrodisiac and libido-enhancer that also promotes reproductive health. The journal Plant Science reported that when maca was used in a reproductive health study, it increased the sperm count in male test subjects in just 2 weeks!
- It alleviates the symptoms of menopause and PMS. Indian women use it to treat menopausal symptoms, and Peruvian women have used it for years to encourage fertility and treat pre- and post-menstrual problems. Maca’s calcium, silica and magnesium content helps prevent bone loss that may accompany menopause-induced osteoporosis.
- It boosts energy levels and aids in athletic performance.
- Maca contains glucosinolate and fibers that help prevent certain forms of cancer. Its fatty acid content helps strengthen the body’s immune system, thereby enabling to body to fight cancer.
- It promotes mental clarity. Researchers have given maca to students before tests to improve students’ test scores.
- Maca is an adaptogen. As such, it increases the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue.
- It is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients that support optimum health and longevity.
- Because of its high iron content, it has been shown to be beneficial for those who suffer from anemia.
- Maca contains terpenoids and saponins which give it the ability to relieve pain, act as expectorant, sedative and analgesic — and even lower cholesterol levels.
In Peru, maca is usually eaten like a potato, boiled and used in pudding, jams and drinks. Everywhere else, maca is more readily available at health food stores and from online retailers as a powder that can be conveniently added to food or drinks. Maca is also available in the form of capsules or liquid extract, both of which can be self-administered as dietary supplements.