Maca, (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable related to the potato and Mexican yam that is cultivated high in the mountains of the Peruvian Andes where, due to the extreme conditions there, very little else will grow. The tenacity of this amazing plant is perhaps what gives it its strength and the properties of enhanced endurance it gives to those who ingest it.
One of the chief attributes of Maca, according to the Peruvian Indians who grow it, is its ability to enhance fertility. When the Spanish conquistadors first began to raise sheep in the higher regions the sheep were reproducing poorly. When the Indians suggested Maca, the results were so amazing that the Spanish began to demand Maca as payment from the colonies. Maca’s fertility enhancement may be due to its rich content of iodine (essential for thyroid balance), zinc (important for prostate function), amino acids (precursors to hormone production) and vitamin C. Maca is also high in essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B12 and E and is a source of glycoside steroids, making Maca a natural and safe alternative to anabolic steroids for weight lifters.
Maca is an adaptogen, meaning it helps to restore balance or homeostasis to the body. Other adaptogen herbs are ginseng and astragalus. Maca has traditionally been used to increase energy and to promote improvement in stamina and endurance in athletes. Unlike caffeine, Maca is a healthy choice for increasing physical and mental energy because it is not a stimulant, making it ideal for students, professionals, writers, sports enthusiasts and anyone who needs a lift. It has been especially helpful for those with chronic fatigue.
While Maca has a reputation for increasing libido in both men and women, it has enjoyed immense popularity with women who suffer from both PMS and menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, depression and vaginal dryness. Since thyroid imbalance can result in both infertility and the premature onset of menopause, Maca has been found to be beneficial in enhancing fertility and prolonging the onset of menopause. This may be due to its high iodine content which is essential to proper functioning of the thyroid. Maca has also been effective in restoring hormonal balance to women who have had hysterectomies. Because Maca acts through the hypothalamus and pituitary, it also has a nourishing effect on the adrenal glands.
Garry P. Gordon, MD, former president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine, now Founder and President of the International College of advanced Longevity Medicine, notes Maca’s effect on hormones and sexual response. At a recent conference in Payson, Arizona he said, “We all hear rumors about various products like Maca. But using this Peruvian root myself, I personally experienced a significant improvement in erectile tissue response. I call it ‘nature’s answer to Viagra. What I see in Maca is a means of normalizing our steroid hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Therefore it has facility to forestall the hormonal changes of aging. It 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. Of course, as someone interested in longevity, I’m aware that mortality comes on much sooner for those individuals whose sexual activity is diminished or nonexistent. In other words, I believe that people who engage in sex twice a week or more live longer. I’ve found sexual activity to be a reliable marker for overall aging.”
We are very excited to be able to offer this ancient but newly appreciated herbal gift from the Andes.