URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/555.html

Maca

What is it?

Maca, also called Ginseng Andin, Peruvian Ginseng, Lepidium meyenii, or Lepidium peruvianum, is a relative of radish and smells similar to butterscotch.

Maca is a plant that grows on the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains. It's been cultivated as a root vegetable for at least 3000 years. The root is also used to make medicine, but there isn't enough reliable information available to know how maca might work.

People take maca by mouth for male infertility, health problems after menopause, increasing sexual desire in healthy people, and other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support any of these uses.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for MACA are as follows:

How does it work?

Are there safety concerns?

When taken by mouth: Maca is likely safe for most people when eaten in foods. Maca is possibly safe when taken in larger amounts as medicine, short-term. Doses up to 3 grams daily seem to be safe when taken for up to 4 months.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if maca is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Extracts from maca might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by estrogen, do not use these extracts.

Are there interactions with medications?

It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

Maca has most often been used by adults in doses of 1.5-3.5 grams by mouth daily for 6-16 weeks. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

Other names

Ayak Chichira, Ayuk Willku, Ginseng Andin, Ginseng Péruvien, Lepidium meyenii, Lepidium peruvianum, Maca Maca, Maca Péruvien, Maino, Maka, Peruvian Ginseng, Peruvian Maca.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Alcalde AM, Rabasa J. Does Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improve seminal quality? Andrologia 2020; Jul 12:e13755. doi: 10.1111/and.13755. View abstract.
  2. Brooks NA, Wilcox G , Walker KZ , Ashton JF , Cox MB , Stojanovska L. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause. 2008;15:1157-62. View abstract.
  3. Stojanovska L, Law C, Lai B, Chung T, Nelson K, Day S, Apostolopoulos V, Haines C. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric 2015;18:69-78. View abstract.
  4. Dording CM, Schettler PJ, Dalton ED, Parkin SR, Walker RS, Fehling KB, Fava M,Mischoulon D. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015;2015:949036. View abstract.
  5. Lee, K. J., Dabrowski, K., Rinchard, J., and et al. Supplementation of maca (
  6. Zheng BL, He K, Hwang ZY, Lu Y, Yan SJ, Kim CH, and Zheng QY. Effect of aqueous extract from
  7. López-Fando, A., Gómez-Serranillos, M. P., Iglesias, I., Lock, O., Upamayta, U. P., and Carretero, M. E.
  8. Rubio, J., Caldas, M., Davila, S., Gasco, M., and Gonzales, G. F. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC.Complement Altern Med 6-23-2006;6:23. View abstract.
  9. Rubio, J., Riqueros, M. I., Gasco, M., Yucra, S., Miranda, S., and Gonzales, G. F. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) reversed the lead acetate induced-Damage on reproductive function in male rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2006;44:1114-1122. View abstract.
  10. Zhang, Y., Yu, L., Ao, M., and Jin, W. Effect of ethanol extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp. on osteoporosis in ovariectomized rat. J Ethnopharmacol 4-21-2006;105(1-2):274-279. View abstract.
  11. Gonzales, C., Rubio, J., Gasco, M., Nieto, J., Yucra, S., and Gonzales, G. F. Effect of short-term and long-term treatments with three ecotypes of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on spermatogenesis in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2-20-2006;103:448-454. View abstract.
  12. Ruiz-Luna, A. C., Salazar, S., Aspajo, N. J., Rubio, J., Gasco, M., and Gonzales, G. F. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) increases litter size in normal adult female mice. Reprod.Biol Endocrinol 5-3-2005;3:16. View abstract.
  13. Bustos-Obregon, E., Yucra, S., and Gonzales, G. F. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) reduces spermatogenic damage induced by a single dose of malathion in mice. Asian J Androl 2005;7:71-76. View abstract.
  14. Gonzales, G. F., Miranda, S., Nieto, J., Fernandez, G., Yucra, S., Rubio, J., Yi, P., and Gasco, M. Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats. Reprod.Biol Endocrinol 1-20-2005;3:5. View abstract.
  15. Gonzales, G. F., Gasco, M., Cordova, A., Chung, A., Rubio, J., and Villegas, L. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on spermatogenesis in male rats acutely exposed to high altitude (4340 m). J Endocrinol 2004;180:87-95. View abstract.
  16. Gonzales, G. F., Rubio, J., Chung, A., Gasco, M., and Villegas, L. Effect of alcoholic extract of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on testicular function in male rats. Asian J Androl 2003;5:349-352. View abstract.
  17. Oshima, M., Gu, Y., and Tsukada, S. Effects of Lepidium meyenii Walp and Jatropha macrantha on blood levels of estradiol-17 beta, progesterone, testosterone and the rate of embryo implantation in mice. J Vet.Med Sci 2003;65:1145-1146. View abstract.
  18. Cui, B., Zheng, B. L., He, K., and Zheng, Q. Y. Imidazole alkaloids from Lepidium meyenii. J Nat Prod 2003;66:1101-1103. View abstract.
  19. Tellez, M. R., Khan, I. A., Kobaisy, M., Schrader, K. K., Dayan, F. E., and Osbrink, W. Composition of the essential oil of Lepidium meyenii (Walp). Phytochemistry 2002;61:149-155. View abstract.
  20. Cicero, A. F., Piacente, S., Plaza, A., Sala, E., Arletti, R., and Pizza, C. Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia 2002;34:177-179. View abstract.
  21. Balick, M. J. and Lee, R. Maca: from traditional food crop to energy and libido stimulant. Altern.Ther.Health Med. 2002;8:96-98. View abstract.
  22. Muhammad, I., Zhao, J., Dunbar, D. C., and Khan, I. A. Constituents of Lepidium meyenii 'maca'. Phytochemistry 2002;59:105-110. View abstract.
  23. Gonzales, G. F., Ruiz, A., Gonzales, C., Villegas, L., and Cordova, A. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) roots on spermatogenesis of male rats. Asian J Androl 2001;3:231-233. View abstract.
  24. Cicero, A. F., Bandieri, E., and Arletti, R. Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;75(2-3):225-229. View abstract.
  25. Zheng, B. L., He, K., Kim, C. H., Rogers, L., Shao, Y., Huang, Z. Y., Lu, Y., Yan, S. J., Qien, L. C., and Zheng, Q. Y. Effect of a lipidic extract from lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology 2000;55:598-602. View abstract.
  26. Valerio, L. G., Jr. and Gonzales, G. F. Toxicological aspects of the South American herbs cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa) and Maca (Lepidium meyenii) : a critical synopsis. Toxicol.Rev 2005;24:11-35. View abstract.
  27. Valentova K, Buckiova D, Kren V, et al. The in vitro biological activity of Lepidium meyenii extracts. Cell Biol Toxicol 2006;22:91-9. View abstract.
  28. Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Gonzales C, et al. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian J Androl 2001;3:301-3. View abstract.
  29. Zheng BL, He K, Kim CH, et al. Effect of a lipidic extract from lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology 2000;55:598-602.
  30. Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men. J Endocrinol 2003;176:163-168.. View abstract.
  31. Li G, Ammermann U, Quiros CF. Gluconsinolate contents in Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) seeds, sprouts, mature plants, and several derived commercial products. Economic Botany 2001;55:255-62.
  32. Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia 2002;34:367-72.. View abstract.
  33. Piacente S, Carbone V, Plaza A, et al. Investigation of the tuber constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.). J Agric Food Chem 2002;50:5621-25.. View abstract.
  34. Ganzera M, Zhao J, Muhammad I, Khan IA. Chemical profiling and standardization of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2002;50:988-99.. View abstract.
  35. National Academy of Science. Lost Crops of the Incas Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation . Available at: http://books.nap.edu/books/030904264X/html/57.html
Last reviewed - 08/12/2021