Mood, Energy, and Hormones – Maca Root Just The Facts!
Maca has been enjoying new-found popularity as a “superfood.” In reality, though, humans have known about the amazing benefits of the maca root for thousands of years.
Maca root is native to the high mountain Andes in Peru and goes by the scientific name Lepidium meyenii. It also has a number of other names, including maca-maca, ayak chichira, maino, and ayak williku.
It is also often referred to as Peruvian ginseng because of its effectiveness for a wide variety of uses, similar to ginseng. However, unlike ginseng (which is an herb), maca is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale.
The natives of Peru have long used maca in their traditional cooking recipes and for medicinal properties. Today, researchers have continued to uncover the many benefits of maca for maintaining optimal health.
Healthy hormones are a delicate dance: either too much or too little of any hormone can wreak havoc in the human body. Beyond that, how much hormone is appropriate depends on diverse factors, such as age and gender. Maca can help the body find the right balance of hormones to achieve optimal health.
Rather than giving the body hormones, such as estrogen or testosterone, it works by supporting the body to make the right balance of hormones. Because it helps the body, it can be used for many hormone imbalances.
One time of hormonal shift for women is menopause. Menopause can be a challenging time of transition for some women. The hormone changes bring uncomfortable side effects, including hot flashes, weight gain, and mood changes. Maca can be a powerful aid during this time.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that maca was able to relieve menopausal discomfort, including hot flashes and sleep disturbances. It concluded that more research is warranted to discover the full benefits of maca to help women during menopause.
Another meta-analysis of multiple studies found that maca reduced menopause symptoms. They discovered maca benefitted each part of menopause, including perimenopause, early postmenopausal, and late postmenopausal women.
While more research needs to be completed to substantiate the findings of these studies, the initial research does point to maca as an aid for women.
Because most of these studies found that it helped women naturally balance their hormones, other conditions of hormone imbalance may benefit from supplementing with maca. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS) is the result of estrogen imbalance and affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Even worse, there is no remedy for PCOS. However, maca can help to rebalance hormones to treat many of the symptoms of PCOS, including weight gain, excessive hair growth, and acne.
Not only can maca be powerful for women’s hormonal health, but plenty of research also shows the benefits to men. It works in part by increasing sperm count, which helps balance healthy hormone levels for men. For many men, an increase in fertility comes from hormone balance.
Studies show that it can naturally boost testosterone in men who have an imbalance. This can bring many benefits, including increased energy, building muscles more efficiently, improved hair growth, and more.
The benefits of maca for hormone balance are especially beneficial as men age. Testosterone levels will begin to vary, and a typical result is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP). Maca can help bring needed balance to reduce BHP.
Researchers have found that maca can help. In one study, researchers discovered that rats who supplemented with maca had reduced prostate size. Another study found the same result in mice. A third study also found that red maca was effective in reducing the size of the prostate.
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Although the initial research is limited to animal studies, the results are promising. They warrant more research in the ability of maca to decrease BHP.
Although everyone has diverse hormonal needs and challenges, maca can help. By supporting the body’s natural hormonal process, maca can bring balance and promote healthy hormone levels.
Modern life can be hectic. Many people want to feel more awake and energized throughout the day. While most people turn to coffee or sugary, caffeinated beverages for a quick buzz, they have to often deal with the jittery side effects and crash when the effects wear off.
Maca can provide a helpful alternative to those who want to avoid caffeine, or just want something more after their morning cup of coffee. Maca root can help give a more positive energy boost without the shakiness and jitters associated with caffeine.
There is a legend that Incan soldiers used to carry maca root into battle to improve their strength and endurance. While more research needs to be done, there is some science behind this traditional use of maca to support energy levels.
For athletes or those with an active lifestyle, maca could be a powerful aid. One study on male cyclists reported an increase in performance after just 14 days. Another study found that it increased both athletic performance and sperm count in mice that supplemented with maca. A third study found that rats who took maca also experienced an increase in athletic performance.
Whether we want to improve your athletic performance, keep up with a demanding job, or just need an extra boost, maca could provide the required energy and endurance.
Increased Focus and Memory
Maca has long been used for its ability to support Focus and Memory. To this day, native Peruvians often give their children maca to help them excel in school. There is research to support maca’s ability to provide cognitive support.
A study on mice found that maca helped improve their memory. Multiple animal studies back up maca’s ability to enhance memory even with brain damage. In fact, a review of the literature found that maca could have extensive benefits for learning and memory.
While the research so far is limited, these findings have exciting implications for memory support. Researchers have found that maca could potentially help improve cognition in even more severe memory issues, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Spice Up the Bedroom
Maca’s ability to balance hormones can help with the two most common problems in the bedroom: performance and desire. For those that struggle with either issue may find that maca can give them an extra boost.
Research has shown that maca can be beneficial for men in the bedroom. A study of 50 men with mild performance issues saw “significant effects” after taking maca for 12 weeks. Another study of 57 men saw an increase in desire after taking maca for 12 weeks. Another study on athletes found that they also experienced a rise in desire after just two weeks of supplementing with maca.
However, the benefits of maca in the bedroom is not limited to men. Women frequently report a decrease in desire due to several factors: stress, hormonal imbalance, and exhaustion, to name a few. However, maca has been shown to have a positive effect on desire.
A double-blind, randomized study of both male and female participants found that it increased desire for both genders. Another study of postmenopausal women also reported an increase of desire after supplementing for 12 weeks.
Although the studies are too small for definitive proof, they are promising to help those struggling with bedroom issues.
Infertility is at almost epidemic proportions today: 13% of all couples in the United States have trouble with fertility. While there is no one cause of infertility, maca may help men who want to increase their sperm count. There is significant evidence that maca can help promote fertility in men.
A review of five studies found that both infertile and health men experienced improved semen quality after supplementing with maca. Another study found that maca increased sperm count in addition to supporting healthy hormone levels in men. A third study found that maca improved fertility in men after four months. A double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled study from 2015 also found that it helped increase fertility after 12 weeks.
Those trying to have a family, or want to have one soon, might consider supplementing with maca to help improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Maca is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body to adapt to stress. While caffeine works to hype the body up and alcohol brings it back down, an adaptogen works to bring the body back into balance. Maca is shown to be helpful for both depression and anxiety to help bring the mood to normal levels.
Maca is rich in flavonoids, which are shown to help relieve both anxiety and depression. In addition, red maca is high in GABA. This amino acid is often used to promote relaxation and decrease stress and anxiety.
Maca’s energy-boosting abilities could also help improve the mood. Research has shown that it can help reduce depression. A study from 2015 found that subjects experienced a reduction in depression after taking maca over 12 weeks. Another 2008 study found that it was able to reduce depression and anxiety after six weeks.
In a 2016 study, researchers discovered that those who supplemented with maca reported an improved mood, energy levels, and participants noted an increased quality of life. A study on rats also found that those who supplemented with maca had a decrease in depressive-like behaviors.
Maca is rich in numerous nutrients that can help bring peace of mind and an increased quality of life for those who have depression and anxiety, or simply need an extra boost.
Improve Heart Health
For most of human history, the heart has not been much of a cause for concern. Most people took for granted that their hearts would remain strong and healthy into old age. However, the modern lifestyle has put a strain on the heart. Most of us could benefit from supporting our heart health because of poor diets, high-stress levels, and little exercise. Maca could help.
One study found that rats who took a concentrated dose of maca had decreased cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver and reduced blood sugar. Each of these factors can help support heart health.
High blood pressure is a dangerous problem that millions of people experience. Some research shows maca could help, especially when high blood pressure is due to mood issues, such as anxiety and depression.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that women who took maca for 12 weeks experienced reduced blood pressure. Another observational study found that maca consumption was correlated with lower blood pressure.
More research needs to be done, but the studies show the positive effects of maca on heart health. The hefty dose of antioxidants in maca could be responsible for its heart-boosting effects. Free radicals are a contributing factor to heart disease, and research shows antioxidants can help.
If you’re concerned about your heart, consider supplementing with maca to give it an extra boost.
Bone loss can become a significant problem during aging, especially for women. Postmenopausal women are at considerable risk of suffering bone loss. The estrogen used to treat it by doctors, though, is not substantiated by research. However, there is some evidence that maca can help those who want a natural alternative.
One study on rats found that it helped the prevention of estrogen-deficient bone loss common among women after menopause. In another study, researchers also discovered that maca has protective benefits for the bones. A third study also found that it can protect bone health.
Fights Free Radicals
Every day, our bodies are assaulted by oxygen compounds called free radicals. When we are young, our bodies can quickly recover from the damage these molecules cause. However, it becomes more difficult as we get older.
While we discussed the role of antioxidants in maca to aid the mood and heart, it provides even more protection beyond that.
The antioxidants help the body recover from free radical damage. One 2014 study found that polysaccharides extracted from maca were effective in fighting free radicals. Researchers discovered in another study that antioxidants obtained from maca leaf were powerful enough to protect even against neurological damage.
The antioxidants in maca help produce an anti-inflammatory response critical for health. Inflammation is a necessary response in the body for healing injuries. However, the modern lifestyle has caused oxidative stress leading to chronic inflammation in the body. It’s implicated in everything from heart disease to cancer.
Maca can help fight this unhealthy kind of inflammation. One study found that those who consumed maca showed lower levels of inflammation. Another study on mice showed those who took make had decreased markers of oxidative stress.
Maca for Vitality and Health
Because maca is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, it can help support the body at any stage of life. Beyond that, those who supplement with maca even report increased satisfaction with their lives!
There are multiple ways that you can harness the benefits of maca in your everyday diet. We offer maca as part of our blend of superfoods and herbs in Yin Synergy.
Harness the full benefits of maca with other safe and powerful herbs, including:
- Goji Berry
Together, these herbs work to provide a synergistic boost to help restore and maintain optimal health. Our Yin Synergy blend makes it easy and straightforward to get not only maca but multiple kinds of power-house herbs into your diet each day.
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