Maca, scientifically classified as Lepedium meyenii, has been cultivated for a time period exceeding two millennium. This plant grows only in specific regions of the Peruvian Andes Mountains at altitudes of 4,000 meters or higher. The nutritional and therapeutic properties of maca were first documented in the mid-1600’s and, since that time, the plant’s extracts have been exported throughout the world. Beginning in the 1980s, maca received designation as a “superfood” and saw its popularity and usage skyrocket. In 2010, more than $6 million worth of maca and associated products were shipped from Peru and distributed in the United States
What Are The Health Benefits Of Maca?
The health benefits of this powerful root are so numerous that its attributes can be placed in several different categories including sexual/reproductive health, mental health, disease protection, nutritional and stress-busting.
Sexual And Reproductive Benefits of Maca
Maca is said to improve both female and male sexual health and reproductive issues. Several scientific studies conducted illustrate how the substance affects women stricken with post-menopausal sexual performance issues. Each examination concluded that women who ingested maca in some form experienced improved sexual performance, as well as increased libido.
Maca’s ability to impart sexual and reproductive benefits is not exclusive to women. A number of studies found that this Peruvian root not only enhanced a man’s sex drive and supported healthy sexual performance, but also improved sperm motility (the speed and strength at which sperm swim) and overall physical sperm quality. Sperm quality and motility are often two critical factors leading to male infertility.
Mental Health Attributes
Maca is rife with chemical compounds called flavonoids. These substances are believed to elicit positive psychological effects such as a reduction in anxiety, a decrease in depressive episodes in those stricken with some form of depression and an improved general feeling of mental well-being. Scientific studies have shown maca’s mental health benefits are especially potent for menopausal and post-menopausal women. The root is also thought to promote mental clarity. Some who have used maca have reported improved concentration sharper focus.
Protective Benefits of Maca
Maca contains a high quantity of vital nutrients called antioxidants. Antioxidants play a critical role in supporting a healthy immune system by combating harmful substances known as free radicals. Free radicals can enter the body’s cells, tissues and organs and, if they gather in sufficient numbers, may precipitate inflammation — a condition that contributes to pain and can serve as the precursor to the development of various autoimmune disorders and other potentially dangerous, even life-threatening conditions. Antioxidants keep free radicals in check and participate in cell and tissue repair.
Nutritional Benefits of Maca
Maca contains plentiful amounts of key vitamins and minerals including several of the vitamin B complex, vitamin C and vitamin E, in addition to nutritionally beneficial concentrations of calcium, zinc and iron. However, maca’s greatest nutritional attribute may lie in the fact that the substance is rich in many different types of amino acids. Amino acids are proteins that are crucial to the body’s ability to produce energy, grow and heal. Consuming foods rich in certain amino acids such as maca is also critical because the body does not produce certain kinds of these substances.
Stress Alleviating Abilities
Stress negatively impacts almost every part of the body, can exacerbate existing illnesses and precipitate several untoward manifestations such as headaches, loss of sleep, digestive maladies, mood disturbances, anxiety and elevated blood pressure. Maca is among a group of substances scientifically labeled adaptogens. Adaptogens possess chemical properties that elicit biological reactions which help individuals adapt to their surroundings and circumstances, in addition to making them more adept at coping with whatever conditions they are presented with. Adaptogens help the body fend off stress by aiding its ability to perform numerous functions which include the balancing of male and female hormonal systems, strengthening its defenses against invaders and regenerating brain cells.
Where Can Maca Be Found?
Though typically sold in powder form (to be sprinkled over foods or mixed in certain beverages), maca is also available in capsule form. Macabido for Men and Macabido for Women are two unique maca formulas that combine a special potentized maca extract with a variety of powerful herbs, minerals and amino acids. In a clinical trial, Macabido was proven to boost energy, improve libido and increase feelings of well-being in participants, performing far better than maca alone.