Maca is a root plant that grows in the high plateaus of the Peruvian Andes mountains, one that has been cultivated for at least 3000 years. It is consumed both as a food and for medicinal purposes. A relative of the radish, maca has an odor similar to butterscotch. It is eaten baked or roasted, prepared as a soup or used for making a fermented drink called maca chicha. Over the centuries, maca has been used as a folk remedy for many health conditions including anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome as well as for enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory, fertility and sexual function. Not only that, women use maca for female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems and symptoms of menopause. It is typically taken as a pill or liquid extract or as powdered maca root.
Although only a few scientific studies have looked at maca's effects on human health, they suggest that it may indeed offer certain benefits, including:
- According to a 2010 report, there is ‘limited evidence’ for maca's effectiveness in improving sexual function. The report's authors analyzed four clinical trials, two of which found that maca may have positive effects on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in healthy menopausal women or healthy adult men. However, the other two trials did not find any beneficial effects for maca on sexual function. In an earlier study, researchers had found that maca alleviates sexual dysfunction caused by the use of selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, medications used to treat depression. The study looked at 20 people with depression, all of whom were experiencing SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. The researchers further stated that maca may also help improve libido.
- One small study looked at the effect of four months of treatment with maca tablets on semen quality in nine adult men. Maca therapy resulted in increased semen volume, sperm count and sperm motility even though blood levels of testosterone remained unaffected.There are different types of maca - including yellow, black and red maca. Black maca appears to have the greatest effect on sperm count, followed by yellow maca, which has moderate effects.
- Last but not least, maca may help ease anxiety and depression in postmenopausal women, according to a 2008 study. In this study, 14 postmenopausal women took 3.5 grams of powdered maca for six weeks and then took a matching placebo for another six weeks. The results clearly showed that maca helped reduce anxiety and depression, along with improving sexual function.
Clearly, maca has many beneficial effects on sexual function, fertility and overall health.
Source: 3 Health Benefits of Maca.