The maca root is scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii and was found in the Andes, particularly in the Meseta of BomBom, close to Junin Lake. It belongs to the ginseng family and very much related to the mustard plant. These are grown in the Andes Mountains in Peru where the climate is very conducive to the plants’ ability to grow even in such high temperatures and frost. These are primarily grown for their fused hypocotyl and taproot, which is used as a medicinal herb and root vegetable. Maca root takes its Spanish names maca-maca, maino, ayak willku, or ayak chichira, but these are more commonly, the Peruvian ginseng or Peruvian maca.
There are varieties of maca roots that are distinguished by their color: cream, red, purple, and black. The cream-colored maca roots are the most widely grown in Peru and are more favored because of their enhanced size and sweetness.
The red, purple, and black maca roots contain high amounts of natural iodine which is good for avoiding dietary-induced goiters. (This health condition can results from too much consumption of the lighter cream-colored maca.)
The black maca which is considered to provide the strongest in stamina- and energy-promoting properties found in this genus. Its taste is both bitter and sweet.
The flesh of the maca root is where the rich nutrients are found. Maca is rich in natural sugars, vitamins B, C, and E, and minerals like zinc, calcium, phosphorous, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, and amino acids. This impressive content in maca root has earned for it the name “superfood”.
Maca is commonly taken in its powder form, but it can also be an ingredient in food preparation. Its taste needs a little getting used to, but it gets more tolerable when it is mixed with food. It has been found to be good in smoothies, drinks, juices, salads, and cooked food. It should not be added into something too hot; otherwise, it will lose all its nutritional benefits.
Maca root has been used by the Incan civilization for its medicinal, nutritional, and health benefits. It has been a staple of the Andes indigenous people for at least 3,000 years. Being now known as a superfood, maca is steadily increasing in popularity all over the world, especially the red maca root.
With its rich nutritional content, maca has been found to regulate and support as well as balance the body’s hormonal systems regardless of gender. As a hormone booster, it can help with problems related to fertility, digestion, sexual activity, and energy levels. Maca root also has the capability to raise your body’s resistance to diseases by improving emotional and physiological health as well as helping your pituitary and adrenal glands function more efficiently.
Studies conducted on athletes showed that Maca also aids in injury recovery. So whether you are an athlete or not, maca will help you get back into shape, boost your energy to last for longer periods, and help you recover in cases of injuries.
More evidence is needed to evaluate the following potential benefits of maca:
Maca should be taken in small doses and for short periods of time. If it is your first time to use this herb, you can take start by ½ teaspoon once a day and gradually increase to a maximum dosage of 1 tablespoon twice a day. The recommendation is that you take it first thing in the morning or early in the afternoon so you can make the most use of the energy boosting benefit Maca root can provide. In case you feel some negative side effects, slowly wean yourself from it altogether.
Like all other supplements, the best way to maximize the benefits of Maca root is by discussing it first with your doctor. Get professional medical advice how to use it, what to use it for, and for how long you should be using it.
Although maca root has high nutritional content, it is also very rich in iodine and glucosinolate. People with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, testicular cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometriosis should not be taking this herb as it might only worsen their conditions unless there is an approval from their medical doctor. Patients suffering from thyroid problems should seek professional medical advice before taking maca supplements, likewise for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and people with liver and blood pressure issues.
Additional studies determine maca as a safe, yet potent, superfood. This isn’t at all surprising to those in the know, as Maca root has been a staple in the diet of indigenous peoples for thousands of years. For many, Maca root is a daily food, used in smoothies, soups, and baked goods. Whether it’s consumed for enhancing energy, increasing libido, or improving bone density, maca is a tasty addition to any diet.