Table of Contents
- Understanding Maca Powder
- Health Benefits of Maca Powder
- How to Take Maca Powder
As the new superfood all-star, maca powder is gaining in popularity.
There is a good reason!
This amazing powder, which comes from a root, has many health and wellness benefits.
Among maca’s many benefits include improved libido and fertility, better hormonal balance, enhanced sports performance, and improved mood and mental health.
As our understanding of this natural health remedy grows, we learn more about all the ways that maca powder can help you heal your body naturally and safely.
This guide examines the many benefits of maca powder, including its ancient roots in South America, where it has been used as a medicinal herb by Andean natives for centuries.
We will share the best ways to use maca powder in your daily health regimen, as well as how it can help treat specific conditions.
Understanding Maca Powder
Maca root comes from a plant that is a member of the cruciferous family, related to vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
Lepidium meyenii, the scientific name for maca root, looks similar to a turnip and is native to the Peruvian Andes.
It is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng, for its similar appearance and effect to that root.
Growing in harsh, alpine conditions, the root survives in desolate conditions.
For generations, maca has been harvested and used for its medicinal and healing powers.
North Americans are now starting to understand why the herb has been trusted for so long.
Maca root can be white, black, or red in appearance, and it has a very earthy flavor that many people enjoy in other foods.
Maca’s powers come for the compounds that naturally form in this plant, including diindolylmethane, or DIM.
As DIM is metabolized in the body, it stimulates the breakdown of fat, helps you develop lean muscle mass through exercise, regulates your hormones and increases your energy.
Maca’s compounds make it an excellent treatment for many diseases and disorders.
In the next section, we will share with you the many reasons you should be taking maca now.
Health Benefits of Maca Powder
Maca root is classified as an adaptogenic herb.
Adaptogens can support the nervous system, while it adapts to stress.
Maca also supplies essential nutrients, which the body needs for memory function, sexual health, mood enhancement, energy production, and hormone balance.
Before we get into the many health benefits of maca root, let’s examine its nutritional makeup.
This will help us understand why it is considered to be a superfood.
One ounce of maca root powder contains just 91 calories with 20 grams of carbohydrates, four grams of protein, two grams of fiber and only one gram of fat.
In addition, maca powder is an excellent source of micronutrients, including Vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium, Vitamin B6 and manganese.
Maca also has bioactive plant compounds, including polyphenols, glucosinolates, and DIM.
This combination of energy, fiber, and micronutrients makes this small root, a powerhouse of helpful compounds that your body can use in many ways.
Improves Sexual Function and Drive
A reduced sexual drive can be a frequent problem among many adults.
There are various reasons why libido declines, including changes in hormone levels, response to elevated levels of stress, poor cardiovascular health and depression or anxiety.
Maca may represent a possible natural treatment for those suffering from a decline in their sex drive.
Recent research has shown that maca has been shown to be effective (in some cases) at improving sexual dysfunction.
Those who took the herb for six weeks noted improvements in sexual desire.
This line of research holds promise for others looking for natural solutions to sexual dysfunction, and we need to learn more about maca’s effects on sex hormones and function.
In addition to helping overall sexual drive, maca has also been shown to help those who have sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant use.
Some women who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) experience a lack of sexual desire, while on these medications.
Taking maca root has shown promise for decreasing sexual dysfunction symptoms, among those taking these medications.
Reduces Signs of Depression
For those with depression, maca can help to elevate your mood.
Maca root improves mood in postmenopausal women, including reducing episodes of depression, as well as lowering blood pressure, which can help with anxiety.
As a natural mood enhancer, maca also helps you better deal with stress.
Enhances Male Fertility
Recent evidence suggests that maca may help enhance male fertility.
Those taking maca have been found to have increased sperm motility, a higher sperm count, and enhanced sperm volume.
All of these factors are important for male fertility.
Therefore, boosting them will provide a greater chance of egg fertilization.
Relieves Symptoms of Menopause and PMS
During menopause, when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops permanently, there is a natural decline in estrogen produced.
The decrease in this important hormone can lead to many unpleasant side effects for women, including mood swings, hot flashes, sleeping problems, irritability, and vaginal dryness.
Some women have found relief from these symptoms, especially hot flashes, and sleeping problems, by taking maca root powder.
Maca also can help protect bone density, which is also a problem for menopausal women.
Maca has also been shown to help with symptoms of PMS, which are caused by fluctuations in female hormones.
Irritability, digestive upset and mood swings are often relieved by taking maca powder regularly.
Supports Adrenal Health
Maca’s classification as an adaptogen means that it helps your body adapt to stress.
It does this primarily by influencing the production of hormones, which are naturally triggered by stress.
Hormones allow you to adapt to illness, stress and other external stimuli.
All of these hormones are produced by your endocrine system.
When you are living with chronic stress, your body is constantly producing stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenal.
When your adrenal glands, which produce these hormones, are on duty all the time producing these hormones, they can stop responding to other stimuli.
Cortisol and adrenal also impact your metabolism, digestion, mood and kidney function.
These systems and processes can also become overstimulated.
All of this can lead to fatigue and exhaustion, both of your body as a whole and on these specific functions.
Adaptogens, like maca root, help your body to better regulate the production of not only stress hormones but other chemical messengers that trigger physiological responses.
They help your body respond, or adapt, more efficiently to stress.
Boosts Sports Performance
One of the earliest known uses for maca root was to boost stamina and strength in ancient Andean warriors, who ate it before going into battle.
Maca was even used as currency and reserved for use by royalty at one time, because of its value for this reason.
One of the reasons many call it Peruvian ginseng, is because it boosts energy, much like traditional ginseng does.
For this reason, maca root powder has become a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.
Many claim that it helps them build muscle and improve their athletic performance.
Research supports the notion that maca can enhance endurance and even boost overall performance in some athletes.
If you are not an athlete, you can still benefit from maca’s powers.
It has an energizing effect that can take the place of caffeine or other stimulants, but it does not interfere with sleep or have unpleasant side effects, like caffeine can.
Protects Skin from the Sun
Maca root can also supply added protection from the sun when applied to your skin.
Its high concentration of antioxidants and glucosinolates have a protective effect on skin against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can damage skin.
Applying maca extract to the skin, in addition to traditional sunscreen, can help to offer additional protection from skin cancer and other forms of sun damage.
Enhances Learning and Memory
In addition to supporting your body’s health, maca root is also good for your brain.
Natives of Peru have given maca to children for generations to help boost school performance.
Research has shown that maca improves memory and learning function.
Black maca is the best variety to use for this purpose.
Reduces Prostate Size
Men have a prostate gland as a part of their reproductive system.
With age, the prostate can enlarge and create problems, especially with urination.
As the prostate enlarges, it presses against the urethra, through which urine must pass to exit the body.
This impingement can make it difficult to empty the bladder fully.
Maca may help reduce prostate size in those with an enlarged gland, due to its concentration of glucosinolates.
This is good news for men since it can also reduce their risk of prostate cancer.
Other benefits that have been reported while using maca root powder include enhanced weight loss, improved bone density, lowered blood pressure and blood sugar levels and reduced inflammation.
Maca is high in antioxidants, which means it helps with neutralizing free radicals and fighting oxidative stress.
It can even help with altitude sickness.
Maca’s health and wellness benefits are clear.
However, what about its side effects? Is using this superfood safe?
While there are potential side effects, they are rare and generally mild.
You should start by consuming a small amount of maca, to see how your body responds.
You can then increase your dosage, as you understand its effects.
The most common side effects of maca are:
- Interference with medications which alter hormones
- Elevated blood pressure in those with hypertension
- Complications for those with thyroid problems
Maca root use has not been studied in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and should be avoided in these instances.
How to Take Maca Powder
You can purchase maca root in many different forms.
It is available as a powder, in capsules and even as a liquid extract.
Powdered maca root is the most widely available, but there are two types of processing from which to choose.
Raw maca powder is made from the root in natural form after it has been dried and ground.
This powder retains all the root’s nutrients and bioactive compounds, as well all of the starches and sugar present in the source.
Most who choose maca for energy, endurance or performance select this version.
However, you are aware that it is a little tougher on your digestive system to fully digest this type of maca powder.
Another option is gelatinized maca powder.
This refers to the process by which the root is boiled down to remove all the starch content.
This makes the root easier to digest and allows the nutrients to be more readily absorbed by the body.
Gelatinized powders are more potent than raw forms and may contain added nutrients.
Check the label.
Because the starch content is missing, they will not have the same energy-boosting effects as raw forms.
How you choose to consume maca powder will depend on your tastes.
Some just take it in capsule form, swallowing one or more pills per day, according to the recommended dosages on the label.
Others who use powder, add it to coffee, juices, smoothies, oatmeal, and other foods.
Maca powder can be added to just about any food you wish to enhance the nutritional value of what you are eating.
There are hundreds of recipes available online showing the many, versatile uses of maca powder in healthy, everyday foods.
Maca root has been used for centuries for its powerful medicinal qualities as an adaptogenic herb. In addition to helping your body cope with stress and balance your hormones, maca has many other health benefits.
It can improve sexual desire and function, helps with menopausal symptoms, relieves depression, supports adrenal health and boosts athletic performance.
Maca has been shown to help with memory and learning, reduce prostate size, help protect skin from the sun and enhance male fertility.
Be sure to buy your maca root powder from a reputable manufacturer, who adheres to standards of quality and purity.
Maca can be taken in capsule or powder form.
Maca root powder is easily added to your favorite foods and drinks.
It is easy to enjoy its many benefits.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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