Maca is a plant with a radish-like root that is used as a food and for medicinal purposes. Although maca is unrelated to the ginseng family, it has been dubbed "Peruvian ginseng" because it is used as a folk remedy to increase stamina, energy, and sexual drive.
Maca improves both male and female hormone balance, supports the adrenals, increases stamina, helps with erectile dysfunction and increases sex-drive and fertility! I would start with a teaspoon a day in a smoothie and increase up to 4 teaspoons a day. Read on to read more details!!
In the 1930s, Russian scientists studying plant medicine coined the term adaptogen to refer to a plant that promoted non specific benefits to an organism while inducing NO negative side effects.
An adaptogen is a substance which raises the non-specific resistance in an organism. Adaptogens enable the body to enhance its power of resistance and adapt to external conditions. They work with the body's natural rhythms to help rebuild weak immune systems, re-mineralize poorly nourished bodies, and increase energy and endurance.
The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce chemical "messengers" called hormones essential for normal bodily functions. A wide variety of physiological processes are carried out unconsciously by these "messengers". Once released they flow directly into the bloodstream and are transported to organs and tissues throughout the entire body.
Scientists and doctors are now finding maca to be one of the best natural ways to regulate and support endocrine health. This action regulates metabolism, energy levels, growth, sexual development and the sense of well being and attitude.
Thankfully, maca does not contain hormones itself. Instead it provides a unique set of nutrients that directly fuel the endocrine system and help the glands to produce vital hormones in precise dosages predetermined by one's own body.
Sexual drive and fertility
According to folklore, ancient Incan warriors took maca before going off to battle to make them physically strong. However, they were later prohibited from taking it, in order to protect conquered women from their heightened libidos.
One study looked at the effect of 4 months treatment with maca tablets on semen quality in nine adult men. Treatment with maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count, and sperm motility. A 12-week randomized controlled trial looked at 1,500 mg maca, 3,000 mg maca, or placebo. After 8 weeks, there was an improvement in sexual desire in the men taking maca.
So why does maca feel so good?
Personally, because I eat a primarily vegan diet, my body is somewhat low in iron and B vitamins. Although I eat as many plant based foods that contain iron and B vitamins, sometimes I need to take an iron and B vitamin supplement. I find that the days I have maca I don't need to supplement with the vitamins (OR COFFEE!) because my body feels nourished. As an adaptogen, maca works broadly to contribute to overall well being. It nourishes and calms the nerves with calcium, phosphorus, vitamins B1 and B12 , and fatty acids, all of which work beneficially on the nervous system.
I would experiment, just like any other superfood or food, and try it each day for a few weeks and see how you feel. In my experience with maca, the best way to tell if it's affecting you is to take it away after some time.
Maca comes in pill form or is ground into powder. I include maca powder in many of my own smoothies, and in those of my clients when they are doing a cleanse or raw-life experience.
*I would avoid maca if you are on birth control.
Here's a video that includes some info about maca AND a recipe to use it in! (you can add it to anything, start with 1 tsp and work your way up!)