What Is Maca And How Can It Benefit Your Health?


by David (Daud) K. Scott, CHNP, CPT

on July 30, 2015

The expansion of the superfood market is evolving and giving people the opportunity to be exposed to foods that they may not have been privy to in the past. While eating and juicing plant-based foods has long been considered an optimal way to maximize nutrition from natural sources, knowledge of other natural healing foods from ancient cultures is now reaching us. A prime example of this is the present importation and popularity of a mighty superfood known as maca.

Via: mescal | Shutterstock

Via: mescal | Shutterstock

Maca  (Lepidium meyenii) in its purest form is a tubular bulb like cruciferous vegetable, which can be yellow, black or red in its root color. The plant is native to the South American nation of Peru, where it’s been cultivated for thousands of years. Historical artifacts document that the root of the maca was consumed by humans as far back as 3800 B.C.

True to their holistic concept of life, the Incans ate the maca root for both its nutritional value and its capacity to be an effective medicine. However, it was not until the 16th century that news of its high nutrient content began to spread. More recently, maca has begun to be examined scientifically and has been shown to have a wide range of health benefits. We will focus on several of these benefits, which encompass nutrition and healing.

So just exactly what are the nutritional benefits and why does it matter so much that this root would even be studied scientifically? Firstly, maca is rich in vitamins such as C and E and is packed with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Maca also contains several B vitamins, which are essential for moderating mood and for nervous system stability. Maca is also known for its rich amino acid content, which completes its supreme status as a holistic superfood.

Among it’s much osuhgt-after health benefits, maca serves as a natural support for erectile dysfunction and can assist in restoring sexual health without raising hormone levels in men. In the modern world, which is littered with advertisements for Viagra and Cialis, maca is an alternative option for those seeking erectile support without resorting to prescription medications.

In women, maca has been shown to be effective in addressing complications related to menopause. This is due to its ability to balance hormones via its high nutrient and phytochemical content. Out of the various symptoms related to menopause, in a two month double-blind study maca was shown to have reduced discomfort overall. By the end of the study, women who had consumed maca experienced numerous positive outcomes, including relief from hot flashes and night sweating, a reduction in nervousness and heart palpitations, improved sleep patterns, and reduced levels of depression.

Maca is also commonly used to address skin problems, such as acne and blemishes. It is able to treat skin conditions such as these due to its high vitamin E content. Regular consumption of maca also aids skin sensitivity issues via its nutrients, making it ideal for people who spend considerable time outdoors and in the sun.

Those seeking safer alternatives to energy drinks and supplements, have also turned to maca for sustained stamina. Athletes in need of a boost for competition are now using maca both for sports that require stamina, such as long distance running, and to build muscle, for sports such as bodybuilding. This modern day use of maca for strength and endurance echoes the way in which it was used in the ancient world — for long distance travel and in preparation for sports events. In addition, maca has been used through the ages as a treatment for anemia, it’s success in this area being due to its raw and pure iron content.

Consuming maca root powder can be as easy as mixing it into your favorite rice or almond milk smoothie or adding it alongside flour or flour-substitute to your baking recipes. It is also available as an easy to consume supplement in capsule form. As far as the application of maca in your everyday life, it is recommended that a 500 mg dose be consumed twice a day (1000 mg total per day) for optimal health.

For a greater understanding on just exactly what maca does, its versatility and its status as a fully functional superfood, please watch this detailed video below: