Maca Root - For Sexual Health and Well-Being?Published on Thursday, May 18, 2023 by
Could this be the secret to unleashing your inner passion?
Maca is a root (scientific name Lepidium meyenii) that has been cultivated in the Andean region for millennia. Maca is known by several names, including Peruvian ginseng, maca-maca, ayak chichira, and ayak willhu. It has many reported uses in traditional medicine, including as an aphrodisiac, an adaptogen, an immune booster, a mood enhancer, and an anti-aging agent. Nutritionally, Maca is considered a superfood, containing high amounts of iron, iodine, amino acids, potassium calcium, and vitamin K.
Does it work?
Not a lot of research has been done on Maca root. Most available studies have focused on maca’s potential to enhance sexual function. This is important work, as sexual dysfunction afflicts up to 20-30% of men and 40-45% of women. Most available studies on maca root's effect on sexual function are small, with pilot studies examining only a few subjects over a short time period. Nonetheless, there are some promising results that maca has positive effects on sexual function both in men with erectile dysfunction and post-menopausal women.
Maca root has also shown favorable effects in improving mood and reducing side effects of menopause, including reducing blood pressure. As mentioned, the number of studies available is small, and a few meta-analyses (compilations of available research) on maca root have generally concluded that there are measurable positive effects of the root, but more research is needed to make conclusive recommendations. Maca root has also been found to improve nutrient uptake and digestion – at least in rats.
Is it safe? And if so, how much should I take?
With limited research, it is hard to make concrete recommendations regarding maca root. Maca is typically sold in capsule or powder form, and as a dietary supplement, it is loosely regulated in the United States. A 2016 study found maca consumption of 3g/day was well-tolerated over a 12-week period. Most manufacturers recommend a dosage of 1.5-3g per day, so I would not recommend taking more than 3g per day. As there is little research on the long-term effects of maca consumption, I would recommend consulting with your physician before trying this supplement.
- Brooks, N. A., Wilcox, G., Walker, K. Z., Ashton, J. F., Cox, M. B., & Stojanovska, L. (2008). Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 15(6), 1157–1162. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.0b013e3181732953
- Gonzales-Arimborgo, C., Yupanqui, I., Montero, E., Alarcón-Yaquetto, D. E., Zevallos-Concha, A., Caballero, L., Gasco, M., Zhao, J., Khan, I. A., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 9(3), 49. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030049
- Lee, H. W., Lee, M. S., Qu, F., Lee, J. W., & Kim, E. (2022). Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) on semen quality parameters: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in pharmacology, 13, 934740. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.934740
- Lee, M. S., Shin, B. C., Yang, E. J., Lim, H. J., & Ernst, E. (2011). Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Maturitas, 70(3), 227–233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.07.017
- Lewis, R. W., Fugl-Meyer, K. S., Corona, G., Hayes, R. D., Laumann, E. O., Moreira, E. D., Jr, Rellini, A. H., & Segraves, T. (2010). Definitions/epidemiology/risk factors for sexual dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(4 Pt 2), 1598–1607. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01778.x
- Nourish by WebMd. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-maca-root. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- Sahin, N., Orhan, C., Gencoglu, H., Er, B., Ozercan, I. H., Komorowski, J. R., & Sahin, K. (2021). Effects of maca (Lepidium meyenii) on nutrient digestibility and major nutrient transporters in rats fed a high-fat diet. Food science & nutrition, 9(10), 5765–5773. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.2545
Alexander KochPhD, CSCS