Maca, a nutritious Peruvian root and powerful plant medicine, recently made the list of the top 2018 food trends. Maca has been used for reproductive and sexual health for thousands of years. Inca women used it to balance their hormones, boost energy, fertility and libido. Inca men also used maca, as this superfood had similar effects on them by boosting energy, increasing libido and supporting a healthy sperm count. Maca's positive effects do not end at reproductive and sexual health. In fact, the substances in maca that are responsible for these benefits can positively impact other parts of the body as well.
For instance, one study shows that the alkaloids in maca affect the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, which is why it's not just beneficial for the testes and ovaries but also positively influences the adrenal glands, the thyroid and the pancreas. Its energy-boosting properties may be attributed to its ability to improve the function of these organs—especially that of the adrenals. Furthermore, maca, not to be confused with another superfood called matcha, also enhances mood and cognitive function.
Maca Improves Libido for Women and Men
A number of maca's constituents work to enhance libido. One particular way it does so is by affecting serotonin in patients experiencing low libido due to depression. One study examined maca's effects on those with selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) induced sexual function. Participants who received three grams of maca per day showed significant improvement in the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale (ASEX). Maca can also promote healthy libido by supporting healthy hormone balance, as discussed below.
Maca for Healthy Hormone Balance
Maca supports the endocrine system with vitamins, minerals and alkaloids, as opposed to plant hormones. Maca's ability to balance hormones goes a long way. One of the major causes of low libido is estrogen dominance. Common side-effects of estrogen dominance are low libido, hypothyroidism, polyps and myomas.
The more severe the imbalance, the worse the side effects will be. There could be a rather small amount of estrogen. However, if estrogen outweighs progesterone and testosterone, whatever the quantity, it causes a host of issues, such as low libido. This is because estrogen acts as a natural testosterone antagonist, aka a testosterone blocker. Testosterone plays a major role in maintaining a healthy sex drive in both men and women. Hormonal imbalance in which estrogen dominates other major hormones can also lead to hypothyroidism in women. Regular use of maca can help protect against these debilitating symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Maca for Healthy Fertility
Maca is touted to be a miracle herb when it comes to trying to conceive. Many have reported conceiving after consuming maca for only a few months. One suspected reason is its ability to increase the luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is responsible for female ovulation. One study showed that maca increased the LH surge in female rats, thus improving fertility.
It also makes sense that maca's hormonal balancing capabilities would provide a suitable atmosphere for easy and worry-free conception. Additionally, maca's mood- and energy-boosting abilities can actually help a woman carry a pregnancy to full term, as stress related to depression, anxiety and other mood related conditions can increase a woman's chances of a miscarriage. As a bonus, maca also supports a healthy sperm count and sperm motility in men.
Maca Supports Brain Function Associated With Mood and Thinking Skills
Maca also contains fatty acids like omega-3s, which are proven to promote healthy brain function. It also supports the brain by alleviating anxiety, depression and stress. The omega-3 fatty acids in maca also improve cognitive function, analytical and rational thinking. As mentioned above, it increases libido in those suffering from selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-induced sexual dysfunction, proving that it supports healthy levels of serotonin, which is a "happy chemical."
Maca for Energy
Maca's energy-boosting effects are due to its high concentration of minerals, fatty acids, proteins and vitamins, as well as its ability to support healthy adrenal function. There have been many studies showing the role maca plays in athletic performance.
To add to the list, maca promotes bone health, provides homeostasis and supports the immune system. It is plain to see why it makes the top 2018 food trends list. Quality maca formulas can easily be found online and in health food stores. You can also buy maca root and boil it to create a paste or soup. It is most commonly made into a powder, which you can buy or make at home.