Maca is a root from the Peruvian Andes that is valued by many for its beguiling properties. There are different strains that can work differently. We will explain the effects and risks of the plant to you.
What Maca is
The maca plant or Peru ginseng originally comes from Peru and is one of the cruciferous plants. It is used both as a food and as a medicinal plant and for these reasons has been cultivated in the Peruvian Andes for 2,000 years. The small tuber can withstand extreme weather conditions and is very robust. Even at an altitude of 3,000 meters, it can still grow. It can draw all the nutrients it needs from the volcanic soils in the Andes. That is why it is still cultivated in this area. In the meantime, cultivation is also taking place on a large scale in China.
Maca has been experiencing a real hype for several years. Maca is often used as an ingredient in some foods such as muesli bars. The pure powder can also be found in countless supermarkets and health food stores. This tastes sweet to spicy and is ground from the dried tubers. Many people value the root for its diverse effects. The consumption of Maca products has increased rapidly in recent years. In the Chinese region of Lijiang alone, Maca products worth over 600 million euros were produced in 2014.
There are four different types of maca, each with different effects. The individual varieties can be recognized by the different color of the tubers. They can be yellow, red, purple or black in color. Different types are often mixed together. If you want to achieve a certain effect, you should find out beforehand about the exact modes of action of the varieties.
Effects of Maca
The different Maca varieties each have different biochemical compositions. Therefore, the effect of the individual strains differs slightly from each other. Yellow and red tubers are typically used for commercial cultivation.
The dried maca root contains many nutrients. 100 grams of the dried tuber contains around 60 to 70 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. In addition, it contains relatively large amounts of potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and iodine. In this way, the effective tuber can contribute to a balanced diet that contains many nutrients.
Iron : Iron plays an important role in many processes in the body. Iron performs important functions for both blood formation and the body’s performance. While too much iron inhibits the absorption of minerals such as zinc and copper, vitamin C ensures that iron can be better absorbed. A balanced diet is therefore essential for a healthy body.
Zinc : Zinc is also important for many processes in the body. It takes on important functions in the formation of hormones and in the immune system. It is also essential for skin, hair and nails. Since zinc is often found in animal products, maca can be a good source of zinc for vegetarians.
Iodine : Iodine is also important for the body. In areas far from the coast, an iodine deficiency can quickly occur, as the soil here is very poor in iodine. Iodine is mainly found in fish and other sea creatures. Maca can make a good vegetarian alternative and provide the body with iodine.
To increase libido
One notorious effect of the root tuber is to increase libido. For a number of years, the tuber has been marketed as an aphrodisiac food. A 2008 US study found that a dose of 3 grams per day produced a significant improvement in sexual dysfunction. An effect on libido has also been confirmed.
Maca contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs for its natural functioning. These are also important for sexuality. Amino acids help in the formation of neurotransmitters, which play an important role in increasing libido. An increase in erotic desire was found in both men aged 21 to 56 and women after menopause.
Maca can also be effective for symptoms associated with menopause. It can form a natural alternative to hormone therapy. However, this should be discussed with a doctor beforehand. The small root is said to provide relief for numerous complaints that can occur during menopause . It is said to act on the hormones as well as on the emotional state and physical complaints and to achieve a positive effect. These include hormone and mood swings, hot flashes, sweating, sleep disorders and difficulty concentrating . However, this effect has not been scientifically confirmed.
As a sexual enhancer
Maca is also said to be a natural sexual enhancer. Several studies confirm this. Amino acids such as histidine and arginine promote blood circulation and can increase pleasure. They have vasodilating effects that also promote blood flow to the genitals. This increases both pleasure and performance during sexual intercourse.
To increase fertility
In addition, Maca can also improve the quality of sperm and thus men’s fertility. It can increase sperm count and improve both semen volume and sperm motility. This is confirmed by a Peruvian study . Men between the ages of 24 and 44 were given up to 3 grams of Maca daily over a period of four months. The dose played a smaller role than the duration of intake. Improvements in sperm quality were achieved in both subjects who consumed 1.5 grams of Maca a day and subjects who consumed 3 grams of Maca a day. To achieve this effect, Maca should be consumed over a period of several months.
For more efficiency
Maca is not only suitable as a sexual enhancer but also for the needs of athletes. This is partly due to the nutrient content of the root. It contains both proteins and important trace elements and vitamins. However, particular effects are ascribed to the substances Macamid and Macaen, which are the only substances contained in Maca. They are supposed to increase performance. One study examined the effects of macamide using mice. The endurance of the animals was measured while swimming. The mice that received a high dose of macamide performed better than the animals that received a lower dose. A test with cyclists achieved similar results. After taking Maca for 14 days, a significant increase in performance was seen.
Maca can also be helpful for skin problems. Above all, the course of acne can be positively influenced with the root. Acne often has hormonal causes. When the hormones are out of balance, this often manifests itself with one or the other skin blemish. Maca roots can act on and influence the hormones in the body. This allows Maca to work against acne from within. Important nutrients such as zinc can also support the healing process. This creates a smooth and firm complexion.
To lose weight
Maca contains many properties that can help you lose weight quickly. However, the small tuber is not a miracle cure. Just because you mix a few grams of maca powder into your muesli in the morning doesn’t mean you’ll automatically lose weight. However, Maca increases performance. This allows you to improve your endurance during sports sessions and be more active in general. The dietary fibers it contains ensure a long feeling of satiety and stimulate digestion. All of these can be beneficial when dieting .
For depressive moods
Maca can also improve mood swings, stress and depressive moods. Maca can influence hormones. Stress hormones are not excluded. It can counteract stress in a natural way. Hormones also often play a crucial role in mood swings and depressive moods. Maca can also have a positive influence on the hormones here and possibly alleviate the symptoms.
Yellow Maca : This variety is commonly used for commercial cultivation. It acts primarily on the libido of women and during menopause. It can also be effective for mood swings and depressive moods, because yellow maca is said to have a mood-lifting effect.
Red Maca : Products containing red maca are also commonly available in stores. This strain can also have an effect on women’s libido and provide relief from the symptoms of PMS. Red maca can alleviate the symptoms of exhaustion, stress and circulatory problems. Taking red maca is also recommended for acne.
Purple Maca : This type of Maca is particularly helpful for symptoms during and after the menopause. It is priced a little higher than red and yellow maca.
Black Maca : Black Maca acts on both male and female libido. It can improve sperm quality and increase potency. It also has a positive effect on mental abilities and muscle building. This variety is the most expensive of the four varieties.
Risks of Maca
Maca can have a variety of effects and significantly improve the quality of life. However, it can also come with some risks. Many risks arise from the strong demand for the potent root. This can have various consequences.
Poor root quality
Due to the high demand for Maca products, more and more roots have to be produced within a very short time. This has a huge impact on the quality of the Maca plant. Plants are manipulated to grow to full size in a short period of time. In addition, many farmers plant the root too early in the year so that they can harvest more. As a result, many nutrients can be lost. There is no uniform quality control. Roots from the higher price segment can also be of poor quality.
In addition, many farmers use chemicals and pesticides that further impair the quality of the crop. Therefore, one should pay more attention to organic quality. A good reference point is the EU organic seal. Products marked with this seal, for example, do not contain chemical pesticides, fertilizers or genetic engineering.
Lack of scientific evidence
Although the maca root has been a staple food in the Peruvian Andes for centuries, there is still a lack of concrete scientific knowledge about the effects of the plant. Therefore, Maca cannot yet be classified as harmless to health. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warns of the occurrence of undesirable effects. However, since there is little scientific data available so far, there is no evidence for this either. For this reason, it has not yet been possible to specify a safe dosage of Maca.
Side effects have not been found with Maca products so far, but there are a few factors that should be considered when consuming the products. People who should be careful
- Taking estrogen as a drug as maca can affect estrogen levels.
- Suffer from thyroid problems as maca can affect thyroid activity.
- Struggling with insomnia as maca can interfere with sleep when combined with caffeinated foods.
- have heart problems.
- are pregnant.
All of these points can cause interactions or risks. Therefore, the consumption of Maca should be discussed with a doctor beforehand.
Maca can be bought in different variants. The price mainly depends on the Maca variety and the quality of the product. The darker and larger the root, the higher the price. Maca is often offered as a powder that is mixed from different varieties. The powder is versatile and can be quickly integrated into various dishes. If you want to benefit from the versatile effects of maca, but want to do without the taste of the powder that takes some getting used to, you can use capsules. On the Internet you can find a large selection of capsules that contain the powder of the individual maca varieties or mixed variants. You should make sure that they do without preservatives and chemicals. In order to avoid harmful substances, one should fall back on organic quality.
Maca can be found in various foods. There are raw food bars, spreads and pastries with Maca. Maca powder can be incorporated into many recipes. This is how you can make your very own Maca products. The cosmetics industry also uses Maca, for example in face creams.
Maca powder: the right dosage
Maca powder dosage recommendations vary from product to product. Since there is little scientific knowledge about how the product works, no general specification can be made. It is therefore best to start with a relatively small amount and increase it slowly. The consumption recommendation given on the product should be observed in any case and better not exceeded.