The Health Benefits of Maca Root
The health benefits of maca have been cherished by the people of Peru for many years and, in fact, the root can be traced back at least 2,000 years to the Incan people, who used it as both a medicine and food. In the Northern Hemisphere, the maca root is still not widely heard of but that may change soon enough. The health benefits of maca are starting to gain attention from scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and the everyday person looking for natural ways to boost their health. The question you might now be wondering: What can maca do for me?
Encourage Reproductive Health
The people of Peru have, for many years, valued the maca root for its aphrodisiac properties. Although it may not produce near-instantaneous results like a certain blue pill we’ve all heard of, recent studies have shown that regularly consuming the maca root, or a powdered maca root extract, can encourage good overall reproductive health for both men and women. In men who are generally healthy but suffer from erectile dysfunction, the ingestion of maca may be able to not only correct erectile dysfunction but also increase one’s desire to have sex. Studies also suggest that the consumption of maca may also help to increase sperm production, quality, and volume. In women, one of the major causes of sexual dysfunction stems from a simple lack of interest. In past studies, women who consumed the maca root not only seemed to become more interested in participating in sexual activity, but they also reported to have a more satisfying experience. For women who are approaching or have already reached the point of menopause, the maca root may be able to help alleviate the symptoms that are known to occur with menopause. (More on this later!)
Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Don’t worry if you aren’t particularly in need of the maca root’s capability of encouraging good reproductive health—the benefits of maca go way beyond this ability. The maca root is known as a “root vegetable,” just like turnips, parsnips, and rutabaga. Much like these vegetables, the maca root contains a lot of vitamins and some trace minerals that may be missing or lacking in the average person’s diet. In Peru, the maca is a staple food, much in the way that North American and Europeans use potatoes. The maca is regarded as a powerhouse of nutrients as it contains all of the following vitamins and minerals: protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Maca can be prepared and eaten as a food, but those of us in the Northern Hemisphere might find it a bit difficult to locate the maca root in its raw vegetable state. In the United State, the maca root is most often consumed in the form of a powder. Although still rich in nutrients, the powder can be added to virtually anything you like, from porridge to smoothies to homemade cookie or bread dough. The flavor of the maca is reportedly a bit sweet and nutty, with an aroma that is reminiscent of butterscotch. Alternatively, this can also be found in capsule form and taken as a daily supplement.
It was mentioned earlier that one of the benefits of maca is its ability to reduce the notorious symptoms associated with menopause such as depression, hot flashes, slight hair loss, insomnia, and mood swings. It is also used to reduce the symptoms of PMS, such as feelings of sadness, lack of energy, and muscle cramps. The mood and hormone stabilizing abilities of the maca root have been put to use in the Incas for thousands of years and even today people are speaking out to raise awareness of the potential “mental healing powers” of the maca root. A brief search online will produce several blogs, product review, and articles created by individuals who believe that the maca root is just as effective as prescription medications when it comes to treating hormone-based disorders like depression and anxiety. Although little official research has been done to prove or disprove this thought, some individuals may find it worthwhile to give the maca root a shot, especially seeing as there are no side effects or toxicity issues to worry about.
Boost Energy Levels
Do you find it difficult (or even borderline impossible) to start your morning with a cup of coffee? As we age, it seems that that our need for an energy jump-start increases. One of the interesting features about the maca root is that it can be used as a highly effective trigger for energy. This is because maca is an adaptogen. It helps to balance out many of the body’s processes (cardiovascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems) by being able to provide more energy to the body as it is needed. Unlike coffee, which uses caffeine to kick your system into gear, adaptogens do not force energy into your system when it isn’t needed. Caffeine, on the other hand, can overstimulate the body and lead to symptoms like jitteriness and the inability to sleep. Sprinkling a bit of maca powder into a cup of tea or into a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to get a morning energy boost.