Growing wild, thousands of feet above sea level in the Andes mountains, is a vegetable which has been prized for centuries by the indigenous people of Peru. Sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng, maca is known not only for its nutritional value, but also for its power to help women with fertility problems, hormone balance, PMS, menopause, and low libido. In this blog we’ll take a scientific look at the many Maca benefits for women.
What is Maca?
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With the botanical name of Lepidium meyenii, maca belongs to the Brassicaceae, or mustard, family. This is the same genus as turnip, cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radish, horseradish and sea kale. Although in the main, they look nothing like each other, they all have common family traits. The genus is also known by its older botanical name of Cruciferae because all members of the family have four petalled, cross-shaped flowers.
The maca plant has tuber roots which smell like caramel and are traditionally used by the indigenous people of Peru for adding to desert recipes, jams and yogurts for extra sweetness and flavour. Dried maca root is ground into flour and used to make bread and biscuits.
The roots of the maca plant come in a variety of colours, red, black, and yellow, and they each have slightly varying properties. The most common colour is yellow, and this is widely used as a staple food in traditional Peruvian culture, but red and black roots are considered rare and saved for therapeutic uses. All three are rich in the health-giving properties that have given maca its reputation as a healing plant.
Maca is rich in magnesium, calcium, and amino acids (molecules that combine to form proteins). It also contains various minerals such as iron, manganese zinc, sodium and copper. In addition, maca contains certain unique compounds known as secondary metabolites which are micro-organisms vitally important for human health and widely used by medical science in the production of antibiotics, antitumor agents, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and immunosuppressants.
As well as its high value as a nutritious vegetable, maca root has long been heralded as a herbal remedy to enhance vitality and stamina, reduce stress, improve memory, boost libido and improve sexual performance.
Today maca is widely recognised as a superfood and herbal supplement and both laboratory and human studies have shown that its properties can promote holistic wellness for women of all ages.
How Does Maca Improve Health?
Maca is an adaptogen. This means it is one of the special herbs whose active compounds boost energy and enhance physical performance. When taken as a supplement, an adaptogen will support your body’s own systems in re-balancing hormones, easing stress, strengthening your immune system, supporting bone health, and enhancing mood.
Maca works for men too, in similar ways to its benefits for women, maca will reduce stress and boost energy and stamina. It can help balance a man’s hormones and improve sperm quality, but when it comes to a natural supplement to support a woman’s particular needs, maca has that special therapeutic touch.
Maca Benefits for Women
Every woman, from puberty and for the rest of her life, has very specific requirements when it comes to wellbeing. It’s not necessarily about being unwell but things can sometimes simply be out of kilter. Such imbalances can have a detrimental effect on feelings of contentment, fulfilment, and happiness. This is where maca can perform a valuable role.
Here are the main Maca benefits for women:
Maca for Hormones
Because of its adaptogenic properties, maca supports hormonal regulation and balance within your body. By stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, maca promotes menstrual regularity and reduces symptoms of PMS.
Regulating the Menstrual Cycle
If you have irregular periods, maca may help regulate your hormonal body clock. This is particularly helpful for estimating ovulation, as well as alleviating annoying and inconvenient surprises.
Easing menstrual discomfort
Maca is effective in reducing the discomfort of period pain and menstrual cramps, providing much needed relief during that time of the month.
Maca Root for Fertility
Research has suggested that maca may serve as a fertility enhancer and aid in reproductive health. It does this due to its power to balance hormones and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. Due to its ability to regulate the menstrual cycle and optimise ovulation, it may increase the likelihood of conception.
Energy Boost and Mood Enhancement
Maca has been found to be an energy booster, giving improved stamina and endurance. It also provides sustainable energy. Additionally, maca enhances mood and alleviates symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Maca has gained a reputation as a natural libido enhancer for women. By increasing blood flow and stimulating the production of sex hormones, maca boosts sexual desire and enhances intimacy.
Maca contains compounds known as macamides and macaenes which may have a positive effect on hormone levels.
Due to its ability to lower cortisol, maca reduces stress and anxiety levels. It also has the capacity to boost energy and stamina. These benefits undoubtedly play a part in restoring and sustaining a healthy libido.
Maca has been scientifically linked to an increase in sexual desire and improved sexual function, making it a game changer for women wishing to maintain a fulfilling intimate relationship.
As women age, maintaining strong bones becomes crucial. Maca plays a pivotal role in improving bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis thanks to its high calcium and potassium content.
Immune System Support
Maca strengthens the immune system, ensuring you stay healthy and resilient against common diseases. The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in maca further contribute to a strong immune system and overall well-being.
Skin Health and Anti-Ageing
By enhancing collagen production and improving skin elasticity, maca has a positive effect on the complexion. It also has anti-aging properties, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Stress Relief and Mood Stabilisation
Maca belongs to the group of plants known as adaptogens which contain natural substances that help your body adapt to physical, mental, and emotional stress. This brings welcome relief and as you feel better, your mood becomes less volatile and more stable.
Research has shown that phenols, glucosinolates, alkamides and polysaccharides in maca provide antioxidant protection by increasing enzyme activity and scavenging free radicals. This process gives protection against cellular damage and is the reason why maca has a great reputation for its anti-ageing properties.
Maca for Menopause
Maca benefits for women also includes those going through perimenopause, and during menopause itself, maca is a natural remedy that offers relief from hormone-related symptoms. Its adaptogenic properties help alleviate hot flushes, mood swings, and night sweats, making this phase more manageable. Maca is also known to boost libido, allowing women to retain a healthy sex drive during a time when hormone fluctuations could otherwise prove inhibitive. A further advantage at this time of transition, when brain fog is often a problem for many women, is maca’s help with improved cognitive function, enhancing mental clarity and memory.
A clinical study involving 34 women in the phase of early post-menopause, has shown that supplementation with maca worked by toning hormonal processes involving the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis. It also balanced hormone levels and relieved hot flushes and night sweating. The conclusion of the study was that maca provides an alternative non-hormonal plant option to reduce dependence on hormone therapy programs (HRT).
Research has found that maca reduces psychological symptoms including anxiety and depression. It has also shown that maca lowers incidences of sexual dysfunction in menopausal and post-menopausal women. In clinical trials maca has been found to be an effective natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Taking Maca as a Supplement
Many women are preferring to take a more natural approach to easing the symptoms of menopause and Peruvian Maca root powder capsules have been carefully devised to fulfil this need. Each capsule contains 250mg of a 5:1 Maca root extract, the equivalent to 1,250 mg of maca powder. To learn more about supplement extracts and what they mean read our blog on the subject.
Our Maca capsules are made from three varieties of maca – red, yellow and black, so incorporating the special benefits of each. They are also a great source of minerals such as calcium, selenium, iron, and magnesium, as well as omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and 19 amino acids.
Side Effects and Cautions
Maca is generally a very safe herb and not associated with health risks in most people. It is unlikely to cause any side effects when taken in the recommended doses.
It does, however, effect hormones. If you have thyroid problems or other hormone-sensitive conditions such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis, breast, uterine or ovarian cancers, you may wish to steer clear of supplementing with maca. This is because maca extract may act in much the same way as oestrogen.
If you are pregnant or breast feeding you should avoid maca root as there is not yet sufficient evidence to prove its safety in these circumstances.
Taking maca late in the evening is best avoided as it will boost your energy levels when you need to be winding down ready for sleep.
It is advisable to check with a healthcare professional to ensure taking maca as a supplement is compatible with any existing conditions or medications.
- Maca is a powerful natural remedy for women’s health.
- It supports hormonal balance, fertility, and menstrual regularity.
- Maca alleviates menopause symptoms, including hot flushes and mood swings.
- It boosts energy, enhances mood, relieves stress.
- Maca helps to reduce menstrual pain.
- Maca promotes libido and helps restore feelings of sexual desire, even following childbirth or menopause.
- It strengthens bone health, reducing risk of osteoporosis and brittle bones as you age.
- Maca improves skin health, vitality, and overall well-being.
- It has antioxidants and phytonutrients that support the immune system and contribute to holistic wellness.
- Maca provides age defying effects and enhances cognitive function.
You may be interested in reading some of our other blogs on women’s health and menopause:
When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to help where we can. If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.