Maca

Lepidium meyenii

Maca is a staple food of Peru that has also traditionally been used for its purported ability to regulate physical, mental, and emotional stresses in the body.


Sourced from Peru

Non-GMO

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.

Vitals

Some studies have shown that maca supplementation improves sexual performance, libido, and semen quality in men.

Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about any side effects you experience.

What is maca?

Maca, also known as “Peruvian ginseng,” “maca-maca,” “maino,” “ayak chichira,” and “ayak willku,” is a plant native to the high Andes mountains of Peru, where it grows at elevations over 4,000 feet. The maca plant is a starchy tuber resembling a turnip or a radish, and its roots can be cooked and have been a staple food in Peru alongside potatoes for thousands of years. Thirteen different colors of maca have been described, with the most common being black, red, purple, and yellow. Each color is suspected to have its own biological properties, with black maca and yellow maca responsible for the benefits seen in sperm count. Some consider maca to be an “adaptogen,” part of a family of herbs which help regulate physical, mental, and emotional stresses in the body.

What are the benefits of maca?

Traditionally, maca has been used to improve sexual functioning and stamina in both men and women. It has also been used to treat infertility, however, scientific evidence supporting its usefulness in improving fertility is lacking. Other purported benefits include treating symptoms of menopause, sexual dysfunction, and even cancer. While numerous studies have looked into the effects of maca, most have been conducted in vitro, on animals, or in small human clinical trials. This means the findings are limited, making it difficult to determine precisely how effective supplementation with maca can be.

Studies looking specifically at maca’s effects on men include the following:

Erectile dysfunction: One study of fifty Caucasian men with mild erectile dysfunction found that after twelve weeks, those who had been treated with 1,200mg of maca dry extract twice daily reported improved physical and social performance scores (11).

Libido: In one study, testosterone levels in men did not change but libido did improve after eight weeks of maca supplementation with 1,500mg and 3,000mg daily (3). Another small study found an increase in sexual desire amongst trained male cyclists after maca supplementation with 2,000mg daily (10).

Semen: While treatment with maca did not affect hormone levels of testosterone, prolactin, estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH), or follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), it did lead to increased seminal volume, sperm count, and sperm motility in one study. The study was conducted in nine adult men, who received 1,500mg or 3,000mg of oral maca daily for four months (4).

Studies focusing on the other claims made about maca include the following:

Antimicrobial: One in vitro study showed that maca has antiviral activity against strains of influenza virus (2).

Antioxidant: In one study in which maca was extracted and purified, it was found to have high antioxidant activity, making it potentially effective at neutralizing compounds that could be damaging to cells (12).

Blood pressure: In one small study of Chinese postmenopausal women, decreases in diastolic blood pressure were attributed to treatment with maca (9).

Learning and memory: Black maca improved induced memory impairment in mice that underwent learning and memory testing (6).

Mood: Through its effects on chemical messengers in the brain, maca supplementation led to antidepressant-like effects in mice exposed to stress in one study (1).

How does Roman offer maca?

Roman obtains maca from a non-GMO source in Peru that grows Lepidium meyenii. The specific variety of maca obtained is black maca.

Maca is one of five ingredients in Roman’s daily Testosterone Support supplement. The supplement consists of four tablets that should be taken with water. Each individual tablet contains 750mg of maca root powder, for a total daily dose of 3,000mg. This dose and color of maca was chosen based on studies looking at maca’s effects on libido and semen (3,4).

Other ingredients in the tablet include ashwagandha root extract, cholecalciferol, magnesium citrate, zinc sulfate, microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate, stearic acid, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, and pharmaceutical glaze (shellac, Povidone).

What doses of maca have been studied?

Information regarding the exact dosing for maca is limited. Studies that have evaluated the efficacy of maca for improving sexual function have used dosing regimens including 1,200mg of dehydrated maca root twice daily, 2,000mg of maca extract daily, 3,500mg of dried maca powder daily, 500mg of gelatinized maca three to six times daily, and 2,000mg of gelatinized maca daily. The results of these studies were mixed. Across these four studies, no adverse effects were reported (7).

In what forms is maca available?

Maca is a plant whose root can be eaten as food. It can also be turned into a variety of forms to be used as a supplement, including powder, tea, and gelatinized forms. Maca powder is sometimes used in smoothies.

What are the side effects of taking maca?

Reported side effects of maca include altered menstrual cycles, altered mood, cramping, difficulty sleeping, and stomach irritation. However, these side effects are not well documented. One case of prolonged menstrual bleeding has been reported in a woman found to have elevated testosterone levels following supplementation with maca. The woman had been taking one teaspoon of maca powder dissolved in milk daily to improve energy levels and libido. Bleeding improved upon cessation of maca supplementation (8).

Does maca interact with any other drugs?

Currently, maca is not known to have any interaction with medications.

Additional considerations:

Taking maca may affect certain lab test results. Testosterone lab results may not be accurate following supplementation with maca. Make sure your healthcare provider knows you are taking maca before checking these lab tests.


Sources

1. Ai Z, Cheng A-F, Yu Y-T, Yu L-J, Jin W. Antidepressant-Like Behavioral, Anatomical, and Biochemical Effects of Petroleum Ether Extract from Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Mice Exposed to Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2014;17(5):535-542. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.2950.

2. Del Valle Mendoza J, Pumarola T, Gonzales LA, et al. Antiviral activity of maca (Lepidium meyenii) against human influenza virus. Asian Pac J Trop Med. Sep 2014;7s1:S415-420.

3. Gonzales GF, Córdova A, Vega K, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002;34(6):367-372.

4. Lee HW, Lee MS, You S, Ha K-T. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for improving semen quality parameters: A systematic review. European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2016;8:55. doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2016.08.130.

5. Maca. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/maca. Published August 16, 2018. Accessed July 15, 2019.

6. Rubio J, Dang H, Gong M, Liu X, Chen S-L, Gonzales GF. Aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) improve scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2007;45(10):1882-1890. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2007.04.002.

7. Shin B-C, Lee MS, Yang EJ, Lim H-S, Ernst E. Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2010;10(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-44.

8. Srikugan L, Sankaralingam A, Mcgowan B. First case report of testosterone assay-interference in a female taking maca (Lepidium meyenii). Case Reports. 2011;2011(mar24 1). doi:10.1136/bcr.01.2011.3781.

9. Stojanovska L, Law C, Lai B, et al. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric. 2014;18(1):69-78. doi:10.3109/13697137.2014.929649.

10. Stone M, Ibarra A, Roller M, Zangara A, Stevenson E. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009;126(3):574-576. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.09.012.

11. Zenico T, Cicero AF, Valmorri L, Mercuriali M, Bercovich E. 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. 2009 Apr;41(2):95-9.

12. Zha S, Zhao Q, Chen J, et al. Extraction, purification and antioxidant activities of the polysaccharides from maca (Lepidium meyenii). Carbohydrate Polymers. 2014;111:584-587. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.05.017.