The Maca – An Overview Of Its Side Effects

The people of Peru have long considered the maca plant as a staple food source as well as a medicinal plant. Many claim that the plant helps increase energy level as well as sexual desire thus inciting many individuals to purchase and try the product. Although it has many benefits, like any other products out there, it is necessary to know the potential side effects in taking the product. As everyone’s health is different, it is important to talk with your family physician about adding the maca to your daily diet.

What is the Maca Plant?

The maca root is considered as an herbal supplement, the extracts of which are sourced from the Peruvian maca plant. In the ancient times, the Incans considered the plant as a superfood due to its ability to improve a person’s vitality as well as overall health.

The maca plant is said to be an adaptogen, which can help the body to adapt to stressful situations, stress, trauma and fatigue. The plant, which is cultivated in North America, is said to help increase the energy as well as immune system of the person taking it. As the plant is rich in nutrients and vitamins, it helps nourish the body with the needed essential elements to help it cope with the current situation the person is in.

Aside from these, the plant is believed to help prevent migraine, balance hormone levels and promote healthy skin conditions.

Side Effects

As with other plants, there are some side effects that one should take note of especially when one has never taken maca and wants to add it to their daily diet.

Rich in Iodine. The maca plant is rich in iodine, which can be beneficial for people who have low iodine but this can be detrimental for those with thyroid problems. The maca root contains a chemical compound called glucosinolate, which can lead to increase of growth of the goiter. People with thyroid condition should proceed with caution or talk with their health care provider before taking maca.

Allergies. People who are sensitive or have been diagnosed with sensitivity to plants and have plant based allergies should also take precautions. As the maca is sourced from the maca plant, it is recommended to have a talk with your health care provider before consuming the maca root or other health supplements with maca as added ingredient.

Testosterone level. The maca can also increase hormone levels including testosterone, which can lead to unwanted hormonal changes, especially for women. Examples of changes include growth of facial hair, baldness, deepening of voice, resistance to insulin and breast or uterine cancer.

Increased testosterone levels can also lead to mood swings, as well as excessive anger for both sexes. It is interesting to note though that in a report conducted by the New York University Langone Medical Center, there were no reported increase in testosterone levels for individuals who were taking maca product; however to be safe, it is recommended to talk with your doctor.

Skin problems. Due to the plant’s ability to increase hormone production, one might experience adolescent type breakouts such as acnes. The change in the hormone levels can also cause weight gain, menstrual problems as well as decrease sex drive.

Other side effects:

  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Increase heart rate
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness

Should You Take Maca?

Currently, there are no known drug interactions except for the incidence of goiter due to the plant’s being rich in iodine. There are also no known side effects scientifically reported. That said, as each person’s health and lifestyle is different, it is important to take caution when starting supplements and contact your family doctor should there be any side effects or unwanted symptoms.

For those who would like to try maca, it is important to follow the recommended dosage or to lower the dosage if you experience any effects. This is to help the body to build up resistance and get used to the supplement. To prevent or reduce side effects, one can do a cycle or a meal plan to work the maca slowly into one’s diet.

Reviews by FDA

As with other supplements, reviews and claims about the maca root have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. As such, it is important that one take precaution when taking the supplement especially if one is pregnant or breastfeeding. Side effects may be gradual and take a few weeks to appear; if you do not feel good or show symptoms, it is best to talk with your health provider. Although maca has many benefits, it also has side effects. It could be beneficial for one and not so much for another person. Always take precaution when you are contemplating taking herbal supplements.

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