Common Uses of Maca
Increases energy, stamina and endurance in athletes
Promotes mental clarity
Treat male impotence
Correct female hormonal imbalances including menopause (see below)
Chronic fatigue syndrome. (for the full chronic fatigue protocol, please click here
European doctors have prescribed Maca for a variety of health-related illnesses and weight management for more than a decade and have found it a more helpful remedy than synthetic western medicines. Maca is growing in world popularity due to its energizing effects, fertility enhancement and aphrodisiac qualities.
Maca is a nutritional powerhouse especially rich in iodine. It is a reliable protein source containing significant amounts of amino acids. The protein and calories in Maca are stable even after years of storage. It is also rich in complex carbohydrates and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. and iron. It contains vitamins B-1, B-2, B-12, C, and E and is a source of glycosid steroids.
Weight lifters and body builders are turning to Maca as a natural and safe alternative to anabolic steroids. The rich and diverse nutrient content of Maca explains its many traditional uses and why it is sought after today.
Maca is an "adaptogen", meaning it helps to restore balance or homeostasis to the body. Rather than addressing a specific symptom, adaptogens are used to improve the overall adaptability of the whole system. Unlike caffeine, Maca is a healthy choice for increasing energy because it is not a stimulant. The steady enhancement of both physical and mental energy makes Maca an ideal supplement for students, professionals, writers, athletes, and anybody else who needs a lift.
The Indians who first used Maca believed it to be a significant fertility aid for both animals and humans; this explains why Maca is often described as an aphrodisiac. Maca offers a natural solution to symptoms to both PMS and menopause. Calcium and magnesium are well known for their beneficial effects on the female endocrine system. Maca is a good source for both of these important minerals and is a very rich source of iodine, which is also important for the endocrine system due to its effect on the thyroid.
The History of Maca Medicine
Maca is an extraordinary herb used at one time exclusively by Inca Royalty. After the Spanish conquest it was exported to Spain for the exclusive use of Spanish Royalty.
The Peruvians may have been the first to realize the beauty of Maca, but they thankfully did not keep it a secret from other cultures. The Spanish soon found the miracles of Maca after their conquest of the area. They were having trouble breeding their livestock until a native disclosed the secrets of the mysterious plant. Soon Maca became more valuable than gold. Along with being a great source of nourishment, Maca is also used for treating ailments, reducing stress, and contributes to natural, successful weight loss. One of the first ways natives used Maca for Medicinal purposes was to enhance fertility in humans and animals.
Maca is a hardy perennial plant cultivated in the Andean Mountains. The Inca Indians domesticated it about 2000 years ago, and primitive cultivars of Maca have been found in archaeological sites dating as far back as 1600 BC. Native Peruvians traditionally utilized Maca before the time of the Incas for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. It has always been an important staple in the food crop grown there.
It is rich in sugars, protein, starches, and essential minerals, especially iodine and iron. In Peruvian herbal medicine Maca is used as an immuno-stimulant for anaemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility and other reproductive and sexual disorders as well as enhancing memory. This energizing plant is sometimes also referred to as Peruvian ginseng, although Maca is not in the same family as ginseng.
Peruvian Maca by Elora Gabriel
We know that our bodies need hormones. These crucial substances affect every cell of the body in profoundly important ways. As we get older, levels of all hormones fall-oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone. DHEA. pregnenolone, thyroid, human growth hormone, etc. In a kind of vicious circle, the lack of hormones causes much of what we know as aging. So, what do we do? We supplement with the most natural forms of hormones that we can find. This works, but it can be a complex balancing act to take everything we need and in the correct amounts.
The reason that we have to use all of these products is that our glands have ceased to produce the necessary amounts of hormones. Hormones, of course, are produced by the endocrine glands, with the master or controller glands of the body being the pituitary and hypothalamus. What if there was a way to re-stimulate the entire endocrine system, starting with the master glands, so that we could produce our own hormones, from within? I am amazed and thrilled to discover that there IS a way to accomplish this seemingly impossible goal. By taking a herb called Maca, most of us can release our dependence upon taking hormones. In this way. Our health regime is simplified, and our glands become rejuvenated and healthier.
In an ideal world, our bodies would continue producing moderate amounts of hormones well into old age. In the real world, most of us need some additional help to get our glands working again.
Maca is a turnip-like root, which grows at a high elevation in the Andes mountains. Prized by the Incas and later by the Spaniards, Maca is now emerging from obscurity and near-extinction to take its place among the most valuable herbs known to mankind. It contains large amounts of calcium and potassium, as well us iron. Silica and many trace minerals. For this reason it is used in Peru and elsewhere to treat and to prevent osteoporosis.
Most striking, however, is the fact that the Maca root contains natural substances that stimulate the pituitary and hypothalamus. These master glands of the body in turn trigger the ovaries, adrenals, testes, thyroid, and pancreas to return to healthy functioning, thus producing normal amounts of hormones. This has been repeatedly demonstrated, at least with oestrogen and progesterone, through the use of saliva hormone assays. A number of people taking thyroid medication have also found that they can cut down or stop taking thyroid hormone. Maca is also described as having "powerful energizing and fertility effects." It should help couples who are trying to conceive a child, as it affects fertility in both sexes.
Maca is used and endorsed by prominent doctors such as Gabriel Cousens and Burton Goldberg. It is being prescribed by a number of doctors to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, adrenal exhaustion, and to restore energy and vigour to the elderly. Maca is sometimes described as an aphrodisiac for both men and women. Undoubtedly because of its effect on testosterone levels. Several prominent medical doctors, in fact have publicly stated that it greatly improved their sexual functioning. Also, the LA Dodgers use Maca to increase their endurance and muscle mass.
Dosage varies depending on your age and condition. For example, a peri-menopausal woman would usually only need 1/4 tsp. of Maca powder, or 2 capsules per day. A menopausal woman having hot flushes would start with 1 teaspoonful of the powder twice daily, and reduce her dosage as symptoms disappeared, until she was taking a maintenance dose, which would probably be around 1/2 tsp. daily. Men could take 1/2 to 1 tsp. daily.
In most cases, Maca works extremely well. Nurse practitioner Stephanie Smith says that 95% of the women in her practice have been successful with this product under her guidance, of course. Viana Muller, president of New World Botanicals and an anthropologist who has studied the use of Maca extensively, says that she would put the figure at "at least 90%, probably more".
Stephanie has used Maca in her practice for several years. Here are some highlights of the information I've gathered. I've put them into a question and answer format.
Q. Please explain in more detail how Maca works.
A. The active ingredients in Maca are not phytoestrogens, nor are they hormone-like substances such as are found in wild yam. Instead, they are naturally occurring alkaloids. Here is a good quote from Dr. Gloria Chacon. a biologist from Peru. She states that the alkaloids in Maca act "on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, which explains why ... the effects in humans are not limited to [the] ovaries and testes. but also acts on the adrenals giving a feeling of greater energy and vitality, and on the pancreas and thyroid as well."
Q. How can 1 know whether I'll be able to successfully replace hormones with Maca?
A. You'll probably just have to try it. As noted above, it does work very well for most women. It's going to be somewhat more difficult if you have had a complete hysterectomy; if you have been on hormone replacement therapy for many years; or if you are extremely thin. Maca still works for the majority of women in these situations, but you may need to use more, and have some patience during the transition. Some women need to make dietary changes as well, i.e. cutting out white flour and sugar.
Q. If I've had a complete hysterectomy, I no longer have ovaries. How can Maca help me?
A. In this case, hormones will be produced by the adrenals. Hugo Malaspina, MD, a respected doctor from Lima describes the case of a patient who had had her ovaries removed. The woman was taking HRT but still did not feel well. When examined, she had a very low oestrogen level despite the hormone replacement therapy. Two months after she began taking Maca, the patient was re-tested and showed adequate oestrogen levels. "Maca enabled the adrenals to make sufficient hormones to avoid symptoms," commented Dr. Malaspina.
Q. If I have been using oestrogen and progesterone-natural or otherwise do I need to make a gradual Transition into taking Maca instead?
A. Yes. In some cases the transition only requires 7 to 10 days; in others, it could take a couple of months.
Q. How about other hormones, like pregnenolone and DHEA?
A. I haven't been able to find much information in the way of testing which would confirm increases in these hormones. Dr. Muller believes that Maca does raise levels of these hormones, however, and states that in her experience, people found that they no longer needed to use pregnenolone or DHEA, if they were taking Maca regularly.
Q. Does Maca really help men to return to a robust state of sexual functioning?
A. It certainly sounds like it. We know that libido and sexual performance in both men and women is connected directly to testosterone levels, and Maca apparently raises levels of all sex hormones. Gary F. Gordon. MD. Founder and president of the International College of Advanced Longevity and Medicine, says, 'we all hear rumours about various products like Maca. But using this Peruvian root myself, 1 personally experienced a significant improvement in erectile tissue response." Dr. Gordon goes on to say. "[Maca] acts on men to restore them to a healthy functional status in which they experience a more active libido. Lots of men and women who previously believed their sexual problems were psychological are now clearly going to look for something physiological to improve quality of life in the area of sexuality." Dr. Burton Goldberg, president of Future Medicine Publishing, states, "I'm a 72 year old man and this Maca has taken 25 years off my aging sex life." Maca is also effective for increasing libido in women.
Q. I'm concerned about osteoporosis, if l take Maca, should I stop using progesterone creams?
A. Viana Muller has told me that she is in the process of obtaining and collating saliva hormone assays by different doctors who have tested clients using Maca. This will give us more data as to whether Maca consistently raises progesterone levels to the degree necessary to protect bone health. Until we have this information, if you already have osteoporosis, it would be a good idea to do one of two things;
If you start using Maca and stop your progesterone, then you should get saliva hormone assays periodically until you're satisfied that your levels are stable with the dosage you are using.
If you've already suffered substantial bone loss, it may be a good idea to continue using a small amount of a natural progesterone cream.
In Peru, Maca is prescribed by several prominent doctors for osteoporosis and the healing of bone fractures. Stephanie Smith, RN, says "One patient who has been taking Maca for over a year had a series of hone density studies done that showed increased density in the spine."
Q. Since Maca stimulates the pituitary; does it increase growth hormone levels?
A. It probably does, according to Viana Muller, since it increases levels of the other hormones, which are mediated by this gland. Unfortunately, we have no clinical studies here. One man who was taking a precursor product (like KI13 or Pro-HGH) said that Maca worked better. If you're taking a growth hormone product, you'll probably get faster and stronger results if you use Maca as well, due to the increased stimulation of the pituitary.
Q. Does Maca help with chronic fatigue syndrome and general fatigue brought on by aging?
A. Yes, Maca is being prescribed for people with CFS and in many cases it does help. because it raises DHEA and cortisol levels. Most people with CFS have adrenal fatigue. Maca is also prescribed by doctors to increase vigour in the elderly.
Q. Since Maca affects the pancreas, does it help with low blood sugar or diabetes?
A. Most of the research on Maca has focused on the sex hormones. However, there are reports of people whose blood sugar-high or low balanced out after using Maca. And some women said that they no longer had sugar cravings.
Q. How about thyroid?
A. Stephanie Smith recommends that people who are hypothyroid
and taking medication should get their thyroid levels re-tested in a month after beginning Maca. At least, you should be careful to notice any hyperthyroid
symptoms, which might develop; and reduce dosage if these occur. These would include rapid heartbeat and a general sensation of feeling hyper or jittery. Stephanie told me she has been able to reduce her thyroid intake to 1/4 of her previous dose. (Using seaweed such as Seagreens
along side maca would be a more holistic support for the thyroid)
Q. What about the effect on the adrenals?
A. Here is another story from a doctor. Henry Campanile, MD, relates the story of how he was born with only one adrenal gland. He was forced to take cortisone, starting in his 20-s, to combat the fatigue that he was feeling. He used pregnenolone for some time and found it -fairly satisfactory. But one of my patients advised maca. I tried it now I've got so much energy I've started an exercise program."
Q. I'm peri-menopausal. Should I take Maca?
A. Yes, Maca is recommended for the peri-menopausal woman, for two reasons. First, it will usually relieve the symptoms of pen-menopause because it has a balancing effect on the hormones will help to keep your endocrine system toned and healthy, making it likely that you'll sail through menopause.
Q. Please explain further about the use of Maca for enhancing fertility. A. Dr. Gloria Chacon, who was mentioned above, did animal studies where rats were given Maca Compared to the control group, the rats receiving Maca "showed multiple egg follicle maturation in females and. in male. Significantly higher sperm production and motility rates."
A.young woman who went into early menopause at age 31 experienced regular periods again after taking Maca Dr. Gary Gordon (also mentioned above) says, "Society faces a huge problem of dropping sperm counted sex hormone difficulties. But Maca furnishes a non-toxic solution with no downside effects
Q. Is Maca for everyone?
A. No, there are always a few people who are allergic to any given herb
Q. If 1 start taking Maca, will 1 have to keep using it forever?
A. Not in the sense that your body would become dependent on it. It is best for the overall health for our bodies to maintain levels of essential hormones, so if Maca works well for you, you'll be better of if you do continue to use it. Dr. Muller told me that she has used Maca for about three years now. Each year she has noticed improvements in her overall health and well being, until now she feels better than she ever has. So, once Maca takes care of your initial hormonal symptoms, it will keep working to improve your total health. Maca is known as an adaptogen which means that it works in harmony with the body, regardless of your age or sex.
One more thing I like about maca. It avoids the chemicals which are found in some hormonal products, especially in many of the creams.