Maca Root - June Featured Herb


Find yourself depending on coffee for a boost in the morning? Why not try maca instead? It offers an amazing energy boost for those with low energy. Maca however, unlike coffee, offers energy in a non-caffeinated way that supports the body. Maca root, also known as Lepidium meyenii, is a plain, very resistant plant of the family Cruciferae, with reddish roots like radishes. It is an herbaceous biennial plant native to the high Andes of Peru around Lake Junin. It is grown for its fleshy hypocotyl (actually a fused hypocotyl and taproot), which is used as a root vegetable, a medicinal herb, and a supposed aphrodisiac. Its Spanish and Quechua names include maca-maca, maino, ayak chichira, and ayak willku. The maca root is usually dried and stored, can last for 7 years. Maca root powder is made of maca root. Maca root powder is now more popular because of its beneficial aphrodisiac properties, and general strengthening of the body.

Constituents

Maca is a nutritionally dense super-food that contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acids. Maca root is rich in B-vitamins (B1 and B2), which are the energy vitamins, and maca is a vegetarian source of B-12. It also contains vitamin C. All these vitamins ensure proper functioning of the heart, the conversion of carbohydrates into energy, aids cell growth and adequate production of red blood cells. Maca root powder also contains four types of alkaloids, which are indirectly through the hormone system responsible for the proper utilization of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. In addition, maca has high levels of bioavailable calcium and is great for remineralization. The nutritional value of dried maca root is high, similar to cereal grains such as rice and wheat. The average composition is 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% dietary fiber, and 2.2% fats. Maca contains the essential trace elements iron, iodine, copper, manganese, and zinc as well as fatty acids including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids, and 19 amino acids.

In addition to sugars and proteins, maca contains uridine, malic acid and its benzoyl derivative, and the glucosinolates, glucotropaeolin and m-methoxyglucotropaeolin. The methanol extract of maca tuber also contains (1R,3S)-1-methyltetrahydro-carboline-3-carboxylic acid, a molecule which is reported to exert many activities on the central nervous system. Many different alkamides were found in maca. Further, maca contains selenium and high levels of magnesium, and includes polysaccharides. Maca's reported beneficial effects for sexual function could be due to its high concentration of proteins and vital nutrients; maca contains a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which reputedly has aphrodisiac properties.

Maca Powder Benefits

Instead of providing hormones to the body, maca works as an adaptogen which means that it responds to different bodies' needs individually. If you're producing too much of a particular hormone, maca will regulate the production downward. However, if you're producing too little, it'll regulate the production upward.

Hormones regulate many things including mood, growth, sexual development, and tissue function. Hormones also play a role in many diseases, like cancer and depression.

Maca stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which are the "master glands" of the body. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when in balance they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.

Maca root has been shown to be beneficial for all sorts of hormonal problems including PMS, menopause, and hot flashes. Maca's also a fertility enhancer and is best known for improving libido and sexual function, especially in men. For this reason, it's earned the nickname "nature's Viagra."

Maca powder also plays an important role in increasing the resistance of our body, our energy supplies, it boosts the immune system, reduces stress and improves our overall health. To conclude - with regular use, you'll do great service to yourself and your body, because maca powder benefits are:

Enjoy the Benefits of Maca as Food

Maca has a light, nutty flavor and some easy, delicious ways to consume maca powder as a food are to: It's recommended to start with a 1/2 teaspoon a day, and work up to a teaspoon or two a day over the course of a few weeks. If you're taking it daily, it's best to take a day off each week. In the market it can be found in the form of powder or capsules.

Maca Root Powder Side Effects

Maca is a food staple in Peru and there are no known effects of toxicity. However, occasionally some people experience adverse effects when they start taking maca, and these symptoms may actually be detoxification symptoms. This is because when a body more accustomed to consuming processed and cooked foods starts taking in such a nutritionally dense supplement, the body will absorb the superior nutrients it needs and "throw off" the old junk it doesn't need for elimination. If this happens, you might feel badly but it generally lasts just a few days. You may also want to consider doing colon and liver cleansing before or while taking maca to quickly remove some of the waste your body is trying to eliminate. Doing so will help with many adverse symptoms. Maca regulates hormones, and since there have been no testing to prove the safety of use in patients suffering from cancers related with hormones of breast, ovaries, uterus, testicles - these people need to be extremely cautious. Maca root powder should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation. People who have the gall and liver disease, or high blood pressure, definitely should consult a physician before using maca root powder. It is also not wise to take it if you are using medications that increase fertility, as well as with ginseng.

References

  1. The Great Encyclopaedia of Healing Stones, Fragrances and Herbs, published by Methusalem, 2008.
  2. http://www.naturalnews.com/027797_maca_root_hormone_balance.html
  3. http://feelgoodtime.net/what-are-benefits-and-side-effects-of-maca-root-powder/
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidium_meyenii
  5. http://www.therootofthematter.ca