Also called as the “Peruvian ginseng” the superfood “Maca” is the talk of the health industry due to its many medicinal benefits. The ancient superfood is touted as an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and used in the ancient time to cure various ailments. Cultivated in the Andes region in Peru, the ancient people use the plant to alleviate menstrual and menopausal problems, improve mental clarity as well as anemia and TB. Other ailments that the ancient superfood help treat include sexual conditions such as erectile dysfunction, hormone balancing; it also helps reduce stress and anxiety and as a form of laxative.
Due to it gaining popularity, many researches and studies are currently being conducted to support its health claims. In a toxicity study report, it revealed that the plant has no adverse pharmacologic effects or toxicity that can be harmful to those who take the plant. Scientist have also investigated the alleged benefits as well as the effects of the plant and found evidence supporting the historical uses recorded. In one study, maca extracts were introduced to test subjects. The rats that were fed the extracts showed an increase in not only the energy level, scientist have also noted an increase in the subject’s sexual activities compared to test subjects that were not exposed to the maca extracts. Test subjects with low testosterone level and normal ones reacted to the plant in a positive manner indicating that men that have low testosterone level or erectile dysfunction might benefit from the plant.
Science and the Maca Plant
As the world’s population grows, so do the health problems it seems resulting to a variety of pharmaceutical drugs bombarding the market. That said, it does not affect nor solve the health problems that the world is facing and in fact many diseases are now being diagnosed and new ones are cropping up every day. Scientist have observed that there is a direct correlation between the increase of vaccine use to the diseases being diagnosed and as bacteria strains become more resistant, old and reliable drugs no longer become reliable and trusted.
Scientists believe that the answer to the epidemic health problem can be solved by going back to the root. Indigenous groups have long existed using nature or plants in their local region to help maintain their health. It is to be observed that these groups have one thing in common and that is incorporating superfoods to their diets. In the case of the ancient Incans, the maca plant is credited for the success of the Incan empire. The maca plant has long been used as a cure-all plant by the Incans, which made scientists and researchers take a second look and discover the properties of the plant that make it a cure-all for the Incans.
A wide range of researche and studies are currently up in the scientific world where the maca plant is being studied for its anti-aging properties. The most popular study however is about the plant’s ability in affecting the endocrine system of the body. Some of the studies conducted zeroed in on adrenal balancing, hormonal replacement therapy, sexual performance/libido, menstrual and menopausal symptoms, mental health and even on its effects on the central nervous system. Other research also conducted on its toxicological aspects.
Although there are plenty of studies conducted with the maca plant, few studies directly involving humans as test subjects exist. One is a four-month study where healthy adult males were given maca tablets. The test subjects range from their early 20s to their 40s. Results indicate a significant increase of the semen volume, improved sperm motility and sperm count per ejaculation. Interestingly, although there was an increase in the semen production, hormone levels remain stable. Women given maca were observed to have an increase in their dominant follicles in two weeks’ time.
Other Notable Research
Current studies are still in progress where one research, which is conducted to study the plant’s aphrodisiac and anabolic effects, led to the discovery of new phytochemical constituents unique to the plant itself.
Studies that focus on the maca’s ability to reduce menopausal symptoms including mood change, anxiety, bone loss, hot flashes, fatigue, decrease energy levels and sexual functions are also currently being undertaken.
The variety and colors of the different maca plants were also currently a subject of studies in relation to the phytonutrient elements that may affect the plant’s ability to treat health conditions. Black maca variety for example has been found to have a significant effect when it comes on sperm production followed by the yellow variety. Red maca variety shows the best results when it comes to reducing the prostate size of the test subjects. Further clinical trials of the maca plant have resulted to positive effects when it comes to treatment of sperm production, motility, volume as well as moods, energy level and sexual desire.
The benefits of the maca plant also affect livestock as several studies support the positive effects of the plant in increasing livestock’s sperm quantity as well as quality without any harmful side effects or changes in the animal mating behavior.
Experiments are also currently under way when it comes to the possibility of using the plant in skin treatments and protection against UV radiation.
Below are other researches currently underway:
- Black maca’s effects on testicular function
- Spermatogenic cycles
- Male infertility caused by exposure to lead.
- Erectile dysfunction
- Women fertility, effects on women’s sexual health including menstruation, PMS and sexual dysfunction
Several clinical trials have consistently shown that the maca plant is an adaptogen and has the potential to be able to treat certain conditions as well as be used as a preventative for many health diseases and hormone related cancer. In the last few years, the maca plant has been included in the top export items of Peru.
Maca as a Superfood
This ancient superfood has long been in existence and has been a secret that the Incans have harbored for a long time. The maca plant is known for its health benefits including improving digestion, balancing hormones as well as enhancing physical and mental performances. The plant is also an excellent source of nutrients that helps support sexual functions and fertility. Scientists today are learning what the people of the old had already known -- that the maca is a superfood certainly worth its status.