What is it?
People take maca by mouth for "tired blood" (anemia); chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); and enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, and memory. People also take maca by mouth for female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, symptoms of menopause, improving fertility, and sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants, weak bones (osteoporosis), depression, stomach cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction (ED), to arouse sexual desire, and to boost the immune system.
In foods, maca is eaten baked or roasted, prepared as a soup, and used for making a fermented drink called maca chicha.
In agriculture, it is used to increase fertility in livestock.
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:
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressant drugs. Early research suggests that taking maca twice daily for 12 weeks slightly improves sexual dysfunction in women taking antidepressants.
- Male infertility. Early research shows that taking a specific maca product (Maca Gelatinizada La Molina, Laboratories Hersil, Lima, Peru) daily for 4 months increases semen and sperm count in healthy men. But it's not clear if this results in improved fertility.
- Postmenopausal conditions. Research suggests that taking maca (Maca Powder Healthychoices, Murwillumbah, NSW, Australia) daily for 6 weeks slightly improves blood pressure and some aspects of mood, including depression and anxiety, in postmenopausal women. But benefits are very small.
- Sexual desire. Early research shows that taking a specific maca product (Maca Gelatinizada La Molina, Laboratories Hersil, Lima, Peru) daily for 12 weeks can increase sexual desire in healthy men.
- "Tired blood" (anemia).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Improving energy and athletic performance.
- Improving memory.
- Female hormone imbalance.
- Menstrual problems.
- Symptoms of menopause.
- Stomach cancer.
- Boosting the immune system.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking maca if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
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 exposure to 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?
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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- 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.
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