5 – The different colours of Maca explained

//5 – The different colours of Maca explained

5 – The different colours of Maca explained

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) comes in 3 main colours, with each colour having different unique properties. All 3 colours are cultivated from the same seed crop, so in essence you cannot independently cultivate a single colour. This leaves you at the mercy of genetic phenotype dominance and a set ratio of approximately 70% yellow maca, 20% red maca and 10% black maca after harvest. The shamans claim this is not by chance, but more about how ‘she’ (la maca) wants to you consume her. As such, the 3 different colours are prepared and taken differently depending on the body’s requirements and condition(s) being treated. Yellow is for daily use and long-term balance, red and black are sacred and saved for acute or chronic therapeutic use.

“She wants you to consume yellow every day so she makes it abundant, this is your food. Red and black are rare and sacred and saved for medicinal use.” – interpretation of shamanic scripts, Junin Peru. 

Yellow Maca is the most abundant of the 3 colours (70%) and is claimed to be the neutral form that should be taken daily and used for long-term balance and resilience to stress. Scientifically we know that yellow maca has the most broad and general array of macamides and other bioactives and daily consumption for a minimum of 8-12 weeks can offer benefits for those treating hormonal imbalances (PMS, menopause), thyroid dysfunction, adrenal fatigue, autoimmunity, inflammation, mental health, mental cognition and also for improving athletic performance and fertility.

Red Maca is more rare (20%) and is thought to be more sacred and saved for acute treatment of constitutional imbalances. Red is considered feminine and can promote internal balance for those lacking in internal nourishment. Clinically, red maca has been shown to be beneficial for managing acute symptoms of PMS and menopause, for circulatory issues, prostate function in men, fertility in women, osteoporosis, anxiety and fatigue. Our own studies have shown red maca to contain higher levels of bioactives that promote a calming and anti-anxiety effect on the nervous system, substantiating some of the traditional uses.

Black Maca is the rarest form of maca (10%) and is thought to be the most sacred and saved for acute treatment of constitutional insufficiencies. Black is considered masculine and can promote external strength, power, stamina and brain function. Clinically, black maca has been shown to be beneficial for managing acute symptoms of fatigue, mental focus and cognition, memory, motor-neuron function, fertility and libido in men, muscle strength and stamina, depression and brain fog. We are currently investigating the composition of black maca but preliminary reports suggest it can promote increased blood flow via nitric oxide production and achieve higher oxygen levels in blood and muscle tissue, that falls in-line with its traditional uses. Complete mechanisms for each are still being evaluated.

The fundamental properties of the three colours

red and black maca

Red and black maca are used daily in low-dose or acutely in high-doses compared to yellow maca, used more as a daily food source

Red and black maca can be used to provide additional acute support to specific health conditions. Red nourishes the internal and black the external. The shamans and healers will look at your body’s constitution and see what energies are lacking before using red and black maca in high doses to treat. See the chart below listing the symptoms of deficiencies relating to internal and external conditions and which colour to use to treat each. In essence see which symptoms are dominant on any given day and treat with the colour that corresponds:

red maca vs black maca

The symptoms can tell you what the body is lacking in and which maca to use that day

Generic maca treatment protocol

Treatment with maca usually begins with daily consumption of generic yellow maca for general conditions or a targeted three coloured blend specialised for women (maca for women) or for men (maca for men) for more complex or chronic conditions. The ideal dose of yellow maca or blended maca is approximately 1-1.5 tsp per day but relies on the level of total macamides in the powder. For a good quality powder of >0.6% total macamides – 1.5 tsp provides an ideal 60mg+ of total macamides. This optimum amount has been shown to provide clinical benefit when consumed daily for a min 8-12 weeks. We encourage those who consume maca as a treatment to utilise it daily for a minimum 8+ weeks in order to complete a full treatment cycle. Before buying any maca product please review our article of 5 questions to ask before you buy – here.

For those who are seeking more support for acute or chronic conditions it is advised to see which symptoms dominate and on those days to use 1-2 sachets of high-dose extracted atomised red maca or atomised black maca. High-dose extracts can be used acutely as single one-off treatments for 1-3 days for mild conditions, 5-7 days for moderate conditions or 15-30+ days for severe chronic conditions.

Maca naturally grows in a mixed ratio of colours, with each colour having different properties. It is important to combine the colours following the traditional uses to ensure optimum treatment of health conditions. These are the rules that have been followed for thousands of years in Peru by the shamans and the rules we want to promote for those wanting to get the best out of their maca.

Written by Dr Corin Storkey Founder and Director of Seleno Health. www.selenohealth.com

6 – How does maca work ?

March 29th, 2019|0 Comments

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian root vegetable unique to the central Andean region of Junin that grows over 4000 m above sea level. For the indigenous people of the region maca [...]

By | 2019-03-29T21:01:44+00:00 January 15th, 2019|Maca|4 Comments

About the Author:

Seleno Health was established by Dr Corin Storkey, a researcher who specialises in stress disorders and chronic conditions. Having himself beaten chronic fatigue syndrome he now formulates natural medicines and health education to assist others with achieving their own health goals. With co-director Sally Huapaya they ethically source Peruvian maca direct from farm to table and run a social and volunteer program in Peru that protects and preserves the culture of their community.


  1. Caroline November 28, 2018 at 8:02 am - Reply

    I have heard that maca can help with weight loss, is there any truth to that?

    Also, being a woman, who wants to lose weight, would I only use Red Maca?

    Is Black maca harmful to women?

    • SelenoHealth November 29, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Caroline, clinical studies on maca have shown either no difference in weight pre- or post- consumption or a significantly reduced weight loss, depending on the trial. One study published in the Int J Biomed Sci. 2006 Jun; 2(2): 143–159 reviewed maca consumption in a group of 20 women.
      Summary: The results showed that in addition to reduction in body weight, blood pressure and increasing serum HDL and Iron, pre-gelatinized Maca may be a valuable non-hormonal plant preparation for balancing levels of hormones.
      So it seems to be case by case with regards to weight loss. We have seen some good customer responses with weight loss, but it needs to be part of a lifestyle change and for most comes as a result of an increase in energy, improved metabolism, leading to more exercise etc.

      Black maca is definitely not harmful to women, it is in fact very useful for those looking for increased energy and vitality. Black maca can increase mental and physical stamina and improve athletic performance, so very useful for those looking to loose weight. So to answer your question a combination of daily yellow maca and intermittent red and black based on your symptoms and body needs is best. Think of red maca like chamomile and black maca like coffee, red is calming, black is more uplifting. On days when you work out black maca can be highly useful on rest days and when hormones are changing then use red maca.

  2. Jasmine June 16, 2019 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Hello, which maca root or combination would be most beneficial for low libido in women? Thank you

    • SelenoHealth June 18, 2019 at 7:03 am - Reply

      Hi Jasmine, we recommend a long-term daily treatment with activated maca and short term dosing of extracted maca to balance acute symptoms:
      Begin consuming a daily brew of our maca for women in the morning and then supplementing with red atomised maca during ovulation and PMS:
      *1-1.5 tsp of maca for women with breakfast (~300g per month)
      *1-2 sachets of atomised (high-dose) red maca per day during ovulation (mid-month) and the days leading up to your period. Especially to combat mood swings, pain and discomfort associated with PMS. Use particularly on days when anxiety is higher as Red maca has an anti-anxiety and calming affect. You don’t need it every day, just days where you feel symptoms are worse or you need more support emotionally or physically (~10-20 sachets per month). Discontinue during period. If you find the red maca strong you can always dissolve a sachet in water and drink half one day and half the next (ie 1/2 sachet per day).

      Maca for women daily for a min 12 weeks throughout the month and high-dose red maca mid-end of cycle. Also note that sometimes it can take a while to regulate things and occasionally menstrual cycles can get worse before getting better. All studies show improvements usually take at least 8+ weeks, so be patient. For some great recipe ideas check here: https://www.selenohealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Seleno-Health-Maca-recipes.pdf
      And also try to follow our lifestyle guide that is available here: https://www.selenohealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Seleno-Health-Lifestyle-Guide.pdf

Leave A Comment