Maca's Powerful Effects
Maca is mysterious - there's no doubt about that. Researchers are
just now beginning to understand Maca and the remarkable effects that it has on
both body and mind. The Peruvians for centuries have revered it for its "Fountain of
Youth" effect and already its abilites to increase libido, sperm counts and semen volume have been
well-documented in both animal and human studies (which I describe in my link on
Maca, Testosterone and Libido).
However, Maca's superpowers go well beyond simple reproductive effects.
Maca seems to it definitely helps with some of the things that plague us in our
modern lifestyles and middle age, including energy, libido, vitality, stress
management and so on. And for guys that take care of themselves with diet
and exercise as well, it can give you that old I-want-to-rip-her-clothes-off
So how does Maca work its powerful effects? One would immediately expect it to be a
testosterone or leutinizing hormone increaser, but studies have not shown that
to be the case.
The answer probably lies in its effect on our central nervous system.
For example, a 2010 study in vitro, i.e. "test tubes", and on rats found that maca
was neuroprotective. 
Furthermore, it has (at least in women) been found to overcome SSRI-induced
sexual dysfunction. 
SSRI's, the largest and most popular class of anti-depressant drugs currently on
the market, are famed for their "relaxing and calming" effect, which,
unfortunately, can translate to an overly tranquilizing effect on sexual desire.
Maca, again at least in women, helps overcome this neurotransmitter soup and
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In fact, that is a good word for what Maca does: it reignites passion and
desire. Of course, testosterone can do the same thing for us guys, but
Maca clearly deserves to be in the same category for its sometimes similar
effects. A clue to its testosterone-like
potency may lie in a recent study of rats fed a high-sucrose diet where Maca was
found to increase the all-important natural super-antioxidants SOD and
Increasing these incredibly powerful antioxidants are considered one of the "Holy
Grails" of anti-aging research and Maca appears to boost levels of both.
In addition, Maca also increased glucose tolerance in these rats and definitely
lowered glucose levels in their blood. This means Maca may help with
Metabolic Syndrome, which is one of the biggest enemies of our
sexual lives and a common source of erectile dysfunction. Maca may also partially do its work by improving some of the basic risk factors
that plague modern, industrialized lifestyles. For example, the same study
on rats fed high-sucrose diets found that Maca lowered bad cholesterol, total
cholesterol and triglycerides. 
I also noticed something very interesting once I started taking Maca: I
instantly started gaining muscle like I had not in years. It is unlikely
that Maca did this through increasing testosterone levels, but there is another
possible mechanism: Maca has been reported to very significantly lower
cortisol levels, at least in animals, 
and cortisol is a known mucscle-destroyer.
Of course, all of these impressive qualities need to be better verified in human studies, but the results so
far are remarkable by all counts. Maca may be on track to be the next
Pycnogenol, which is well-known for lowering multiple heart disease risk
factors all the while improving inflammation, blood pressure and erectile strength.
Almost all Maca has the advantage of being organic, so you do not have to worry
about some of the issues that plague other plants. It is grown at such a
high altitude in the Andean mountains that it has no real competitors and
spraying is simply not necessary. I take it in its most natural form from
Navitas: Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Maca Powder
I always cook it as that is how the Peruvians have almost always eaten it as
well. (For cautions regarding Maca, see the bottom of this page on
The Power of Maca.)
Also, some may question why I take Maca, when I normally do not recommend herbs.
In my opinion, Maca is in a different category, precisely because it is NOT a
herb. It has been eaten for centuries as a food and one authority site
comments that the "native populations subsisting on the local diet of the
Peruvian highlands typically consume several maca roots a day. The continuous
use of this root vegetable as a staple of the Peruvian highland diet for
thousands of years suggests a low potential for toxicity". Again, this needs to
be proven with a mortality study or two, but considering its widespread use as a
food and its long term use as supplement without incident is certainly a
Of course, do not make any changes without talking to your doc, hopefully a good
and knowledgeable one.
1) Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Published online Apr 29 2010, "Neuroprotective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca)"
2) CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, Aug 13 2008, 14(3):182-191, "A Double-Blind,
Randomized, Pilot Dose-Finding Study of Maca Root (L. Meyenii) for the
Management of SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction"
3) Journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum), Jun
2007, 62(2), "The Influence of Maca ( Lepidium meyenii ) on Antioxidant Status,
Lipid and Glucose Metabolism in Rat"
4) International Journal of Biomedical Science, Feb 15, 2006, 2(1):15-29, "Short
and Long-Term Physiological Responses of Male and Female Rats to Two Dietary
levels of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon)"