Maca is a sacred medicinal root vegetable that grows only in the remote mountain region of Junin in Peru above an altitude of 3500m. The Incan descendants call Maca the “Food for the Brain” and boil the dried roots into teas, porridges, soups or stews for the management of stress and to promote vitality and well-being. Children are told that Maca is for their brain and that it helps them to develop their focus and memory. As a teenager it is used to manage and balance hormones, helping women manage PMS and men for acne and growing pains. It is used for fertility treatment, libido and then stress management in the middle years, before menopausal treatment in women and virility in men. Finally, the elderly consume it to stay active, strong, mentally focused, alert and energized. Studies have shown that the locals are some of the happiest and healthy people on the planet, with many living active lives well into their 90s and beyond. Given their amazing health at all ages there must be some substance behind their claims surrounding the long-term use of Maca. Below we outline the top 10 benefits of Maca based on tradition and the scientific studies that substantiate the claims of the Inca.
1. Maca increases energy, vitality and prevents adrenal fatigue
If you ask the people of Junin (Peru) the secret to their health success they claim that Maca provides strength and resilience to stress and ‘her’ spirit protects them from illness. They regularly consume the different colours of Maca root (yellow, red and black) depending on their symptoms to return balance back to their body (read about using the different colours of maca). Science has know shown that the secret to Maca lies within the unique biochemicals it produces as it dries called Macamides (read about Macamides), that act to balance our brain and the way it responds to stressors through via our endocannabinoid system (read how Macamides work). The result of consuming Maca regularly is an improvement in reaction to stressors in our brain and better control over our nervous system so we don’t experience such wild swings in hormones, mood, energy, immunity and cognition. Maca protects our adrenals and prevents adrenal fatigue. In essence Maca provides strength from within and can return your body back to a strong and resilient balance.
Best colours of Maca to use for energy, vitality and stress management: Yellow, Red and Black Maca (see here)
Maca is considered the food of the brain and provides strength and resilience to stress
2. Maca balances hormones
Women of Junin (Peru) use Maca during teenage years and adulthood to regulate their hormones and alleviate the issues associated with PMS. Furthermore, Maca is the main treatment for the symptoms of menopause and given to women transitioning through this stage of their life to return inner harmony and balance to their hormones. Yellow Maca is used daily to provide a baseline for long-term balance, while red maca can be used to assist the body during acute times of hormonal fluctuations. Clinical studies have shown that consuming Maca regularly can alleviate and improve the symptoms associated with PMS and menopause independent of hormonal production or stage of life. In the case of menopause Maca can provide a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It should be noted that Maca DOES NOT stimulate hormone production but it merely harmonises the way we produce hormones and can balance us during times of hormonal changes. Bring some harmony to your hormones today with Maca.
Best colours of Maca to use for hormonal balance in women: Yellow and Red Maca
Maca can balance hormones and regulate hormonal cycles
3. Maca improves thyroid function and metabolism
Thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s disease can lead to an array of health problems like fatigue, intolerance of cold temperatures, low heart rate, weight gain, reduced appetite, poor memory, depression, stiffness of the muscles and reduced fertility. Recent studies have shown that Maca can improve thyroid function and as a result normalise our metabolism. This can assist people struggling with under-active thyroid function and improve their energy levels, memory and fat burning ability. As Maca is an adaptogen it may also offer benefit for those with hyper-thyroid conditions (e.g. Grave’s disease). If your thyroid is not balanced or you are exhibiting related symptoms then fine tune it with Maca.
Best colour of Maca to use for thyroid function: Under-active thyroid – Yellow Maca Over-active thyroid – Red Maca
Studies show that Maca can regulate our thyroid hormones and improve metabolism
4. Maca is a natural antidepressant that can assist with anxiety and mental health
In Junin (Peru) Maca is referred to as the “food of the brain” and is taken to improve mental health and function all throughout life. Yellow Maca can build long-term mental balance, while Red Maca is used acutely to reduce symptoms of anxiety and Black Maca promotes brain function for acute depression and brain fog. Clinical research has shown that Maca can reduce psychological symptoms associated with mental health imbalances, including anxiety and depression independent of hormonal production. This means it can offer a natural way for our brain to combat and prevent mental health disorders in both men and women. A further study showed all 3 colours demonstrated similar antidepressant activity, meaning any combination can be effective depending on your symptoms (read more here). For those struggling with mental health Maca may assist with management.
Best colour of Maca to use for mental health: All 3 colours. Long-term balance – Yellow Maca. Acute anxiety – Red Maca. Acute depression – Black Maca
Maca can balance our mental health and reduce anxiety
5. Maca can improve fertility in men and women
Traditionally Maca is used to harmonise both male and female hormonal cycles and improve natural fertility. For women yellow Maca is taken daily and red Maca on days post ovulation. For men yellow Maca is taken daily and black Maca on days leading up to female ovulation to increase fertility. The rationale is to optimise his fertility pre-conception and then to optimise her uterine weight and carrying ability post-conception. A review of clinical research has shown that Maca can increase the number of offspring in animals and can promote survival of fertilised embryos. The same review determined red Maca to be the most effective for this in women. For men black Maca was shown to increase both sperm count and function. For those looking to conceive, Maca should be an essential part of your daily routine.
Best colour of Maca to use for fertility: Women – Yellow and Red Maca Men – Yellow and Black Maca
Maca can act as a natural fertility treatment
6. Maca can increase libido and sexual function in men and women
Maca is well known as an aphrodisiac that has the ability to increase sexual drive and function. For males clinical studies have shown that Maca can improve sexual parameters relating to copulation (sexual function and performance). Additional research has demonstrated regular consumption of Maca can significantly improve male libido and sexual desire. For women, Maca has been shown to also improve sexual function and libido, proving that as an aphrodisiac it can benefit both sexes. Looking to add some spice to your love life? Then add some Maca into you and your partners diet.
Best colour of Maca to use for libido: Women – Yellow and Red Maca Men – Yellow and Black Maca
Often called Peruvian Viagra, Maca helps improve libido
7. Maca increases bone density and strength
The elderly of Junin (Peru) consume Maca to keep their bodies strong and healthy as they age. Most older people from this region are physically active right up until the end of their lives with strong bones and muscles. New clinical research has shown that Maca plays a key role in this late-life vitality as it can increase bone density and structure. This can help those struggling with osteoporosis and prevent bone degradation over time, keeping you active as you age. Red Maca gave the best results, so keep your bones strong by adding some to your morning tea or breakfast every day.
Best colour of Maca to use bone density: Red Maca
Red and black maca can increase bone density
8. Maca can improve prostate function in men
For men prostate function is essential for producing semen, hormone production, erectile function, urine flow and sexual pleasure (read more here). It is normal for a man’s prostate gland to enlarge from age 40 years; this is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This enlargement can cause a range of symptoms related to urination, or more serious bladder and kidney problems in the long-term (read more here). Signs of prostate enlargement include:
- Frequent urination
- Urinary urgency
- Nocturia (having to get up frequently in the night to urinate)
- Difficulty with getting the urine stream started (hesitancy)
- Poor flow of urine
- Dribbling of urine
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
In a clinical study red Maca was shown to reduce prostate size and swelling, resulting in improved prostate function in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly red Maca was the most effective, while black and yellow Maca showed little benefit. A further study have shown that red maca could even outperform the commonly used drug finasteride for prostatic hyperplasia in a head to head comparison. Maca offered the additional benefit of not impacting on seminal vessel weight meaning, demonstrating that it is not interfering with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production and is operating solely on prostate size and function, independent of hormone. Traditionally red Maca is used by elderly men and women to nourish the body as it ages once above 40 years of age. For men over 40 years, adding regular doses of red Maca to your diet may help you maintain a healthy prostate as you age. The optimum type of maca to use according to clinical studies is red ethanolic extracted maca (10:1 atomised red maca) 1.5 – 3g per day (1/2-1 sachet).
Best colour of Maca to use prostate function: Red Maca
Red Maca can improve prostate function in men
9. Maca can improve mental focus, memory and cognition
Known by locals as the “food of the brain” in Junin (Peru) Maca is used to improve mental focus, clarity and memory function. One recent study showed that Maca can improve cognitive function, motor coordination, endurance capacity and slow down age-related cognitive decline. Analysis of the different colours showed black Maca to be the most effective in improving brain function. Black Maca was shown to be more beneficial for memory, brain fog and as an antidepressant. So when it comes to cognitive function, motor neuron function, memory, mental clarity and co-ordination it seems black Maca is superior to yellow and red Maca. As they say in Peru “black (maca) is for brain”.
Best colour of Maca to use mental clarity and function: Black Maca
Black Maca can improve cognitive function, co-ordination, memory and mental clarity
10. Maca can boost athletic performance
Legend says that Incan warriors would consume up to 200g per day of Maca before going into battle to fuel them and help overpower their opponents. When living at 4000m with 40% less oxygen than at sea-level any competitive advantage can be the difference between winning or loosing. The Inca say Maca works to increase oxygen in the body and improve muscle, stamina, endurance and brain function. A recent clinical trial showed that Maca could improve athletic performance and trial times in high-performance athletes. Traditionally black Maca is promoted more for it’s ability to build external strength and endurance, however it is often used in combination with yellow Maca. For athletes wanting improved performance, stamina, endurance and better focus during training or events put some black Maca in your pre-workout smoothie.
Best colour of Maca to use for athletic performance: Black and Yellow Maca
Maca can improve athletic stamina and endurance