What is Maca?

Maca in Peru Maca has been used by the indigenous population of the Andean region of South America for hundreds of years. Photo source: Wiki Commons.

Guest Post by: Sasha de Beaussett, B.A., M.Sc.

More and more often you will see maca products branded as “superfoods” your local grocery store. Is it just another fad? What is it about maca that makes it so special? In this article, we will give you an introduction about maca, where it comes from, and why it is becoming so popular for health and nutrition buffs.

What is Maca?

Organic Maca Root Photo

Organic maca root ready for processing at the farm in Peru.

Maca is a plant with a large edible root that originates in the plateaus of the Andes, specifically in Peru. While it is new to North American and European countries where there is a rising demand for maca, this vegetable has been cultivated for over 3000 years. Maca happens to be related to the radish, but actually smells and slightly tastes like butterscotch, of all things. It can be baked, roasted, boiled for soups, and it can also be used to make a fermented alcoholic beverage called maca chicha.

Maca has traditionally been taken orally as a natural treatment for a variety of illnesses, including anemia, fatigue, hormonal imbalance in women, and erectile dysfunction in men.

Does It Work?

Although maca has a very long history of traditional use, it is a relatively new plant in the scientific health research community, so there is still a lot to be confirmed. However, initial evidence shows that maca may have three key health benefits:

  1. Boosts Energy

The former director of the Institute of Economic Botany in New York, Michael Balick, had a special interest in maca, and spend time researching its traditional use as a food as well as its medicinal properties. It seems that the traditional use of maca to alleviate fatigue isn’t far-fetched at all. It seems that maca is in a special category of foods called “adaptogens.” Adaptogens are believed to help the body to adapt to its changes surroundings to not be run down by stress. By helping support a healthy response to stress, maca may also support a healthy immune system too!

  1. May increase sexual desire and improve fertility in men:

One initial study carried out with a group of men between 21 and 56 years old reported have felt an increase in sexual desire after 12 weeks of being supplemented with maca. The mechanism of action isn’t exactly understood, but some men even started feeling improvements after 8 weeks.

Additionally, research suggests that maca may also improve male fertility. In this particular study, nine men took maca tablets for 4 months, and it was found that maca improves seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility.

  1. May also support sexual desire in women:

Women who take antidepressant drugs will often feel a decrease in sexual desire, which can carry over to aggravate the depression. In a study with 17 women with diagnosed depression, it was found that those who were on a daily dose of 3 grams of maca reported an improvement in sexual desire. However, those who were taking half of that dose did not report an improvement. In other words, taking a high dose of maca daily may help to alleviate sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressant drugs.

Overall, maca is just now being taken into account as, not only a food, but also a medicinal treatment, particularly with regards to issues related to fatigue and sexual wellness.

Energy powder for smoothies

Organic Energy contains certified organic maca root. Click to buy now!

Even if you are not seeking out maca for these benefit, it also has a many nutritional components that are great for your health. Maca is very high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, copper, and other minerals, while being low in calories. Whether you choose to eat it in its natural form, as a powder, or as a supplement, it may make a positive impact on your health.

You can find a healthy dose of organic maca root powder in The Natural Citizen’s Organic Energy powdered blend. Along with organic green tea, quinoa and Rhodiola rosea root, the maca works to support clean, sustained energy. Learn more about this energy blend here!

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