The maca plant has long been a part of the Peruvian history, having been cultivated in the mountainous regions of the Andes in Peru for thousands of years. Recently, the plant has been gaining attention due to its health benefits, aptly called as the “Peruvian ginseng” by the modern world. The maca plant is a hardy root plant that is cultivated in the high mountains where only few plants can survive. The plant flourishes at an altitude of 9000 to 14000 feet where they are exposed to the extreme climate that is observed in the area, with extreme cold winds and strong sunlight.
The maca, also known as “Lepidium meyenii” in the scientific world, is a member of the cruciferous family, the same as cabbage and broccoli. The plant has many uses but many health benefits come from its tuberous roots. The maca is an annual plant or an adaptogen and has been used not only as a food source but also as a medicinal plant. Adaptogen plants are said to have medicinal properties, one of which is helping increase the person’s immune system to cope with stressful and demanding situations. It helps the body to improve its resistance to diseases while remaining nontoxic to the recipient.
The roots of the plant is dried and made into powder and has a shelf life of seven years. The powdered maca roots contain seven essential amino acids and twenty amino acids. At almost 60% carbohydrate, a single tablespoon contains 8.5% fiber. This is five times more protein and four times more fiber than a person can get when compared to consuming a serving of potatoes.
Many consider the Maca as one of the superfoods as it contains an abundance of vitamins, nutrients, amino acids, fatty acids, minerals as well as phytonutrients. It also professedly has the ability to help improve energy and stamina levels, increase oxygenation of the blood, support neurotransmitter production as well as improve and enhance libido or sexual desire.
Health practitioners, as well as scientists, have acknowledged the benefits of the plant and consider it as one of the natural ways for humans to improve their endocrine health; with the plants adaptogenic qualities, it can help regulate hormone production.
Although the plant does not contain hormones in itself, the plant has properties that are said to help the endocrine system in the body. It also helps support the adrenal and thyroid glands that are responsible for hormone production, and enables these to produce what the body needs. The nutrients or properties that affect these glands can also help regulate metabolism, improve one’s energy levels as well as sexual development and well-being.
As the plant also works with other parts of the body such as the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, it also affects the mindset or moods of the individual. The nutrients also help nourish the adrenal gland thus helping it be able to handle stressful situations.
In terms of sexual health, the plant’s properties help provide and alleviate menopausal symptoms, slows down aging, improves hormone functions and supports growth hormone. Each hypocotyl root of the plant contains 55 phytochemicals that help improve the person’s mood and energy levels, depending on the consumption amount.
The maca powder has a slight malt or graham taste to it and can be added to just about every type of food that a person consumes. As it has an excellent emulsifying property, the powder can easily blend with any food or drink.
The maca powder is currently sold in major health food stores and online. Organic brands are ideal and as with any superfood or supplement sold, follow the instructions on the label. It is important to adjust your intake until the body gets used to it. The maca can be consumed for prolonged periods with no side effects; however, a break may help enhance the effectiveness of the product. It is recommended to take a week’s break every month if consumed daily.