Maca, or Peruvian ginseng, is an herbaceous plant native to Peru's Andes mountains. This herb closely resembles parsnips, turnips, or radishes in size, growth habits, and proportions.
Native growers acknowledge four different types of maca, usually distinguished by their root color – half purple, cream-yellow, black, and purple. The root color is an indicator of anthocyanin levels. Cream-colored maca roots are quite common in Peru due to their size and sweetness. However, black maca is also favored both for its sweetness and bitter taste.
Maca is grown as food, though economic interests have been piqued due to the root’s perceived but unproven health benefits. Although little pharmacokinetic data exist for maca, it is believed to have numerous health-impacting properties.
If you are looking for a natural way to boost your overall health, then maca root is a supplement worth considering. Known for its unique concentration of medicinal nutrients and proteins, maca root has been used for centuries to improve physical and mental health in addition to enhancing energy and stamina.
In this article, we take a deep dive into the world of maca. We address its potential health benefits, how to select the best maca, and the best times to use it.
- Maca (Peruvian ginseng) is a popular adaptogenic herb native to the Peruvian Andes mountains.
- It is believed to have several health benefits, but enhanced sexual function appears to be the most well-known.
- Even though there is little scientific support for its touted therapeutic benefits, maca root has been used in traditional medical systems for thousands of years.
- Due to its stimulating properties, taking maca root in the morning and early afternoons is more beneficial.
What is maca root
Scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, maca belongs to a family of herbaceous plants called Brassicaceae. It thrives in high-altitude areas of 3,800 to 4,400 m above sea level. Strong winds and sunshine also characterize its natural habitat.
Though native to the Andes mountains, maca has been cultivated outside its natural habitat. However, questions arise as to whether maca cultivated outside its natural habitat preserves its original bioactive profile and potency.
Maca’s medicinal compounds are housed in the upper part of the root. They include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and dietary fiber. The hypocotyl also contains valuable phytochemicals like polyphenols, alkamides, glucosinolates, and MTCA carboxylic acid.
Maca root is marketed as an herbal supplement, but there is scarce scientific evidence supporting its much-touted health benefits. Be that as it may, its use in traditional medical systems is well established.
For instance, this herb was used in ancient Peru as food and medicine. It was used to treat a wide array of ailments like fatigue, stress, menopause, anemia, stomach cancer, and menstrual pain. It is even reported that Incan warriors ate maca root to boost stamina and strength for battle.
Today, maca root is mostly available in capsule or powder form. Traditionally, fresh maca root was cooked before consumption, as raw maca was thought to cause thyroid and digestive problems.
What to look for in the best maca root supplements
The secret to enjoying the benefits of herbal supplements is going for quality products. This might seem obvious but getting high-quality natural supplements is easier said than done.
That’s because natural supplements are not fully regulated by the US. Federal Drug Administration (FDA). As recent lab test reports indicate, natural supplements may not sometimes contain the ingredients advertised on the label.
There are regulations to ensure herbal supplements meet basic manufacturing and quality standards. Still, this is not a guarantee that they are effective. However, herbal supplements and herbs can significantly affect the body.
So, how do you ensure you get the best maca root supplement?
Sourcing your supplements from a reputable brand like Dragon Hemp is vital. Their products are made with clean-sourced, organic ingredients of the highest grade. Further, they are enhanced with Chinese herbs and other healing botanicals to make them more effective.
Besides the ingredients a brand uses to manufacture its supplements, it’s also crucial to consider things like transparency and values. A credible manufacturer should provide in-depth information about its products and ingredients on its website. Some even include QR codes in their labels to make it easier to access such information.
Also, you would certainly feel better buying products from a manufacturer that cares about its employees and the environment. These are values a brand like Dragon Hemp holds dear to its business practices.
Maca root health benefits
Owing to its use in traditional medical systems, it appears maca root may have multiple health benefits. So, we scoured various reputable websites, and here is what we found.
Maca root is a rich source of antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione. Generally, antioxidants help neutralize the effects of harmful free radicals, oxidative stress, and certain chronic diseases.
Based on a 2007 study, researchers have reason to believe that polysaccharides obtained from maca root reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the liver. As such, they might help reduce the risks of developing chronic diseases.
Another study showed that antioxidants derived from maca leaves could mitigate neurological damage.
But why is improving your antioxidant levels vital? For starters, it prevents conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, in which oxidative stress is a notable factor. Despite such promising findings, more studies are needed to help us understand how maca root can affect people.
Improves female vitality
Maca root extract is frequently cited as capable of improving sexual health. There are several possible ways it does so.
This extract has long been considered an aphrodisiac, especially for women. A study showed it could boost sex drive in post-menopausal women with sexual dysfunction. This finding was supported by another study that indicated that besides being well-tolerated, maca root could potentially improve libido and sex drive.
In yet another study, maca root was shown to reduce anxiety and depression associated with menopause after only six weeks of treatment. This way, it can alleviate both psychological and physical sexual dysfunction.
Balance hormone levels
Another way maca may help boost sexual function in females is by balancing sex hormones. This is critical to maintaining a healthy reproductive system and reducing symptoms like bloating, weight gain, and infertility.
One hormone that is crucial to female sexual functioning is estrogen. Besides mediating processes like ovulation, estrogen controls mood (“I’m not in the mood,” rings a bell?). Low estrogen levels can induce mood swings and make it difficult for a woman to enjoy sex.
Fortunately, maca root may help balance female hormones in addition to improving menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats and improving fertility. So, if you’ve been experiencing low libido, you can try our maca root gummies.
Maca root for libido (DH CTA)
These love gummies are made with maca root and premium CBD to get your blood flowing where you need it to. This natural aphrodisiac is what you need to enhance your mood and rev up your sex engines for an all-natural performance enhancement.
As always, consult a medical professional before using natural supplements.
If you’re wondering if maca root only works for women, hold your horses. Even though no studies support that maca can upregulate testosterone levels in men, they indicate that this Peruvian ginseng may benefit male sexual health, including fertility.
For example, one such study showed that taking maca powder for eight weeks increased libido in men. Similarly, another noted an improvement in sperm quality and motility in men who supplemented with maca root.
It’s a superfood
Apart from matters to do with sex and libido, maca is also a superfood. It is a rich source of fiber, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and essential minerals like iron, vitamin C, and copper.
It’s brimming with amino acids, many health-promoting plant nutrients, and other beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols. These make it an excellent food for vegans.
Best way to take maca root
As with all herbal supplements, you are rarely bereft of ways to use them. Maca’s tuberous roots are often dried to prolong their shelf life but can be roasted when fresh and consumed.
In Peru, natives smash the roots and boil them to make a sweet, thick liquid that dries into a powder. This powder can then be mixed with milk to produce a porridge-like traditional dish called mazamorra.
The powder can also be used to bake cakes, bread, and pancakes. These can be taken with soups, jams, or other vegetables. But unless you are Peruvian, you may find these recipes hard to make.
So, we opt for the more conventional way of taking maca root, which is ground powder. However, natural supplement manufacturers now infuse maca extract into edibles like gummies, pills, and energy bars.
If you prefer homemade maca products, then you can consider adding maca powder to smoothies and oatmeal. However, don’t add it to very hot foods or bake with it as the high temperatures can denature some vital volatile ingredients. This can affect its overall nutritional value.
Best time to take maca root
Integrating maca into your daily diet is probably the best way to reap its many health benefits. This is easy to do because maca powder has a shelf life of three years if you practice good storage. So, ensure you get maca powder soon after it’s been ground (preferably within the month).
Since it is classified as food, you can take maca powder daily. But, being a stimulant, maca can increase your energy levels, so it makes sense to take it in the morning with breakfast. Early afternoons are also opportune times because energy levels usually dip then, especially if you’ve had a busy morning.
How much maca root should I take
Most manufacturers of herbal supplements typically provide a dosing guideline to help consumers take the correct amount.
Generally, a level teaspoon per day (3-5 grams) is considered safe for most people. However, people react differently to herbs depending on their health. Some people may require higher doses while others require lower.
Our Love gummies, for instance, contain 40 mg of maca root powder which our experts deem sufficient for enhancing sexual performance. That said, it may be necessary for some people to moderate the amount of maca they take.
For example, people with thyroid problems may have to take lower doses because maca contains goitrogens. These compounds can affect thyroid function.
Similarly, if you are on hormone-altering medications, it would be best to avoid maca supplements altogether.
Pregnant women should also avoid maca supplements because there is limited research on their safety. So, until its safety is confirmed, the logical action is to avoid maca if you are pregnant.
Also, taking a break from maca once in a while is advisable. Experts recommend taking a week’s break after taking maca daily for 4 to 6 weeks. The goal of such a break is to allow the body to reestablish homeostasis without help from the maca.
Overall, you should feel great when taking maca. So, if you experience any sort of unpleasantness or adverse side effects, stop using the supplement and consult a GP.
Where to buy maca root online
Obviously, you now appreciate the importance of purchasing herbal supplements from credible sources. At Dragon Hemp, we go over and above industry regulations to ensure we give you expertly-formulated natural supplements that enhance performance, support recovery, and restore overall well-being.
If you want to buy maca root online, check us out on this link to view our full range of products ranging from capsules to gummies, balms, and tinctures. Also, learn how these nature-inspired products can help you become a better you!