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Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a plant native to Peru and a member of the family Brassicaceae which also includes cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower (1, 2).
- Supports mood and healthy sexual attitude (ref)*
- Promotes subjective wellbeing (ref)*
- Supports sexual health in males (ref)*
- Promotes antioxidant activity (ref)*
Maca is emerging as a subject of interest in the medical community, but thus far, human studies, except for the those referenced above, are scarce.
The following are examples of dynamics associated with Maca through the animal model and may not be representative of the effects in the human body:
Maca Mode of Action
Maca belongs to the family Brassicaceae which is well known for being the cruciferous vegetable family most people associate with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, kale, and mustards. Within the family Brassicaceae, the genus Lepidium contains 234 species (2).
Maca is native to Peru and been used as a folk treatment there for 1300-200 years. Due to its newly- circulated promotion, China and Tibet have begun cultivating it since it was approved by the Chinese government. The largest area of cultivation is in Lijiang, China (1).
Maca root is the widely used part of the plant, and the root can be black, red, pink or yellow. Yellow maca is the most common color accounting for 47.8% of the maca available. Maca has 13 variants. Although not related to Ginseng, it is sometimes called the “Peruvian Ginseng” (3).
Maca consists of glucosinolates, macaenes, macamides, alkaloids, fatty acids, and sterols. The main bioactive constituents are glusoinolates, macaenes, macamides, and alkaloids. Another type of metabolite was discovered called thiohydantoins which are being researched. Macamides and macaenes are unique to Maca, and 18 macamides and 3 macaenes have been isolated thus far. Maca grown in Peru contains N-benzylhexadecanamide as its most abundant compound, while Maca grown in China’s Yunnan province has its most abundant compound in N-benzyl-9Z,12Z-octadecadienamide. Macamides such as N-benzyl-9Z,12Z-octadecadienamide also display selective binding for the cannabinoid CB1 receptor and demonstrates cannabimimetic action (1).
Maca’s effects on mood appear to be better with red maca which contains a large amount of GABA, although mood boosting effects have been noted with black maca (4).
Animal research into Maca’s antifatigue benefits have suggested that it may improve antioxidant activity in muscles by increasing muscle glycogen, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione GSH-Px (5).
Maca’s benefits relating to fertility and sexual health do not appear to alter hormone levels themselves, but promote sexual function independent of hormone modulation in both males and females (6, 7).
Maca Capsules & Dosage
Pure Nootropics’ Maca provides 500 mg of Lepidium meyenii Root per 1 capsule. Suggested use for adults is 1 capsule by mouth daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.
Maca Side Effects and Toxicity
Clinical studies of Maca with humans ingesting up to 3g of Maca has been shown to be well tolerated in most individuals. In rats, no lethal dose or adverse effects were achieved, even in doses up to 5g/kg bodyweight (3, 4).
For further information, please see our References Tab above.