July 04 2020 – Graedon Parker
Peruvian Maca – what is it?
Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) is a cruciferous plant that has been used for centuries by the Incan people of Peru for its therapeutic properties. Known as an adaptogen maca helps the body better respond and adapt to stress to return balance to natural hormonal function. It provides strength and resilience to the nervous system and supports the master glands (hypothalamus and pituitary) that determine all of our hormonal responses. Consumption of maca can help those struggling with stress related conditions to rebalance their health and build resilience to stress in the future.
How does Maca work?
Maca actually works in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of body. The main medicinal properties can be attributed to bio-active chemicals called macamides. These metabolites are completely unique to maca and are responsible for most of its adaptogenic activity. Scientific studies have now shown that the formation macamides actually results from a biochemical reaction that occurs during the traditional drying and heating of maca. For this reason it is important to ensure maca is cooked before use and never eaten raw or to purchase pre-cooked maca known as activated maca or gelatinized maca.
What are the health benefits of taking maca?
Clinical studies have shown that there are many benefits of maca powder including energy[i], mood and mental health,[ii] hormone balance including reducing symptoms of menopause and PMS,[iii] improving fertility,[iv] metabolic function,[v] sexual dysfunction and libido[vi] and in reducing levels of inflammation.[vii] Furthermore the different colours of maca have also been shown to be unique in how they work. Red maca for example is most effective for improving bone density[viii], female fertility[ix] and male prostate function.[x] In contrast black maca was shown to be the most effective for improving memory function, learning ability, brain clarity[xi] and athletic performance.[xii] For men, black maca provided the best increase in sperm production and function compared to the other colours and also in increasing libido.[xiii] Yellow maca is the most common form of maca and is considered neutral. It is used for general balance, well-being, resilience to stress and improving thyroid function.
What is the best way to eat maca?
Maca powder has a sweet and malt caramel flavor that combines well with spices, fruits and bitter foods like cacao. It makes a great addition to morning breakfast cereals, granola or porridge when sprinkled through. It is a great smoothie additive and mixes well with fruit juices or fresh fruit salad. Or you can consume it the way it is traditionally used as a tea infused with cinnamon, cloves and dried fruit or any other flavours you enjoy. Ideally you want to consume a teaspoon per day for a minimum 6-12 weeks to get the full health benefits.
Where can you buy quality maca powder?
Making therapeutic grade Maca is a blend of tradition, art and science. There are so many variables that can influence the quality during production and in turn alter the taste, texture and therapeutic properties of the final powder. We source our maca from The Maca Experts - a small Wellington based family business run by Dr Corin Storkey and his partner Sally Huapaya (Peru). They spend 3-4 months per year working directly with their farmers and produce farm to table artisanal maca following the ancient traditions of cultivation. They believe in superfood social responsibility and donate $2 per kg sold to a fund to help the children of their farming community. They run retreats to Peru to connect with both maca and cacao. Their maca research program in collaboration with the University of Victoria in Wellington works to bring credible scientific evidence to support the ancient Incan traditions surrounding maca and helps create premium and therapeutic products for consumers. You can buy quality maca from The Maca Experts at our online store here: https://organicmechanic.co.nz/collections/minerals-superfoods-more
Links & Resources
[i](a) Shin, S., et al., Gelatinized and fermented powders of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improve physical stamina and epididymal sperm counts in male mice. J. Emb. Trans, 2008. 23: p. 283-289. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291889082_Gelatinizedand_fermented_powders_of_Lepidium_meyenii_Maca_improve_physical_stamina_and_epididymal_sperm_counts_in_male_mice (b) Choi, E.H., et al., Supplementation of standardised lipid-soluble extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) increases swimming endurance capacity in rats. Journal of Functional Foods, 2012. 4(2): p. 568-573. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464612000436
[ii] Brooks, N. A., Wilcox, G., Walker, K. Z., Ashton, J. F., Cox, M. B., & Stojanovska, L. (2008). Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause, 15(6), 1157-1162. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18784609
[iii] Meissner, H. O., Mrozikiewicz, P., Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T., Mscisz, A., Kedzia, B., Lowicka, A., Reich-Bilinska H, Kapczynski W & Barchia, I. (2006). Hormone-balancing effect of pre-gelatinized organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon):(I) biochemical and pharmacodynamic study on Maca using clinical laboratory model on ovariectomized rats. International journal of biomedical science: IJBS, 2(3), 260. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23674989 (b) Meissner, H. O., Kedzia, B., Mrozikiewicz, P. M., & Mscisz, A. (2006). Short and long-term physiological responses of male and female rats to two dietary levels of pre-gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon). International journal of biomedical science: IJBS, 2(1), 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23674962 (c) Brooks, N. A., Wilcox, G., Walker, K. Z., Ashton, J. F., Cox, M. B., & Stojanovska, L. (2008). Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause, 15(6), 1157-1162. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18784609
[iv] Zinaman, M. J., Brown, C. C., Selevan, S. G., & Clegg, E. D. (2000). Semen quality and human fertility: a prospective study with healthy couples. Journal of Andrology, 21(1), 145- 153. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10670528. (b) Gonzales, G. F. (2015) Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21977053
[v] Meissner, H. O., Reich-Bilinska, H., Mscisz, A., & Kedzia, B. (2006). Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) used as a non-hormonal alternative to HRT in perimenopausal women-Clinical Pilot Study. International journal of biomedical science: IJBS, 2(2), 143. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614596/
[vi] Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Vega, K., Chung, A., Villena, A., Góñez, C., & Castillo, S. (2002). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia, 34(6), 367-372. (b) Zenico, T., Cicero, A. F. G., Valmorri, L., Mercuriali, M., & Bercovich, E. (2009). Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well‐being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double‐blind clinical trial. Andrologia, 41(2), 95-99.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19260845
[vii] Zheng, W., et al., Lepidium meyenii Walp Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Activity against ConA-Induced Acute Hepatitis. Mediators Inflamm, 2018. 2018: p. 8982756. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30647537
[viii] Gonzales C, Cárdenas-Valencia I, Leiva-Revilla J, Anza-Ramirez C, Rubio J, Gonzales GF. Effects of different varieties of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized rats. Forsch Komplementmed. 2010;17(3):137-143. doi:10.1159/000315214. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20616517
[ix] Gonzales, G. F. (2015) Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a
Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21977053
[x] Gonzales, C., et al., Effect of red maca (Lepidium meyenii) on prostate zinc levels in rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia. Andrologia, 2012. 44 Suppl 1: p. 362-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21762188
[xi] (a) Rubio J, Caldas M, Dávila S, Gasco M, Gonzales GF. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006;6(1):23-27. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1534053/ .(b) Rubio, J., et al., Aqueous Extract of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Memory Impairment Induced by Ovariectomy in Mice. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2011. 2011: p. 253958-253958. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18955369
[xii] Wan, W., Li, H., Xiang, J., Yi, F., Xu, L., Jiang, B., & Xiao, P. (2018). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca Prevents Metabolism Disorder via Regulating the Glycolysis/Gluconeogenesis-TCA Cycle and PPARα Signaling Activation in Golden Hamsters Fed a High-Fat, High-Fructose Diet. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 333. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29681858
[xiii] Gonzales, G. F., Nieto, J., Rubio, J., & Gasco, M. (2006). Effect of Black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on one spermatogenic cycle in rats. Andrologia, 38(5), 166-172.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16961569
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