Maca has grown in popularity as a natural wellness remedy in recent decades. It is not a newly discovered phenomenon; maca has been popular as an ingredient in Peruvian cooking for thousands of years. However, with growing research into the wellbeing benefits of maca, more of us are using the grounded powder of the maca root plant – which can be added to smoothies and meals – to help alleviate certain health issues and promote a general sense of wellness.
In this article, we take a look at what maca root is, the potential health benefits of the increasingly popular superherb, the safety and risks of adding it to your diet and how its effects may be enhanced by combining it with cannabidiol oil.
What is Maca Root?
Maca root is a superfood that has been used for centuries in Peru. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and is related to kale, cabbage, and broccoli. The root is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is most often consumed as a ground powder.
The root of maca is used in traditional medicine as well as a food supplement, thanks to its variety of wellness benefits including enhanced energy, improved mood and greater skin health. Lately, the superfood has increased in popularity as a wellness supplement and can be found donning the shelves of most health stores.
Maca is classified as an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body to adapt to stress or better resist external environmental pressures. This makes it an excellent choice for those who are looking for a natural way to improve energy levels and lift the mood. However, it’s important to note that research into the health benefits of maca is limited at present and more in-depth studies are required to confirm its effectiveness.
What Does Maca Do To The Body?
Maca contains unique metabolites called macamides and macaenes which are largely responsible for its adaptogenic properties. While researchers don’t fully understand how maca works in the body yet, it is believed that it interacts with the endocannabinoid system; a complex system in the brain and body that regulates our stress levels, mood, appetite, metabolism, sleep and more. Macamides inhibit the breakdown of anandamides (these are molecules linked to mental balance and happiness), meaning the presence of maca can result in higher levels of anandamide in the brain.
The Top Benefits of Maca
Maca is a nutritional powerhouse that could have many benefits for your health, although further studies are required to understand maca’s full effects on the body. Here are some of the top potential benefits of maca root:
1. Boosts Energy
Scientific evidence shows that maca root can provide a boost of energy, and some athletes choose to take it before a workout to maximise performance. Maca may be especially beneficial for endurance athletes.
2. Revs Up Sex Drive
Some research to date shows that maca as a supplement can significantly improve libido in both men and women. One study showed that the superfood can alleviate antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women, and further studies have shown that sexual desire can be improved after 6 weeks of taking maca root daily.
3. Reduces Erectile Dysfunction
Sexual wellbeing may also be enhanced by maca root for people experiencing erectile dysfunction. One study of males with erectile dysfunction showed a significant improvement after 12 weeks of adding maca to their diet.
4. Improves Fertility
There is a link between the use of maca root and increased fertility, mostly in men. More research is required, but early studies indicate that maca root can improve the semen quality of both fertile and infertile males.
5. Benefits Skin Health
Maca has been shown, in animals, to protect the skin against UV damage when topically applied. Furthermore, maca may speed up the healing process of wounds to the skin.
6. Improves Mood
The flavonoids present in maca are believed to lift the mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
7. Fights Free Radicals
Antioxidants are effective in fighting free radicals which cause cell damage within the body. It is believed that maca boosts the presence of natural antioxidants in the body and therefore helps to further combat cell damage from free radicals.
8. Helps Relieve Symptoms of Menopause
During perimenopause and menopause, hormones fluctuate and oestrogen levels gradually decrease, which can result in many unpleasant symptoms. Some studies suggest that maca may be beneficial for some menopause-related symptoms such as poor sleep and hot flushes. Some advocates of maca believe it may help to steady fluctuating hormone levels and maintain balance.
9. Lowers Blood Pressure
Some research suggests that maca may help to reduce high blood pressure, but further research is required to confirm these claims.
10. Improves Memory
Some animal studies show that maca root can improve memory and brain function.
11. Enhances Bone Health
By balancing oestrogen levels in the body, maca may help to treat osteoporosis. Furthermore, maca is a source of calcium.
What Does Maca Do To Hormones?
Scientists do not fully understand how maca affects hormonal activity, however, it is understood that it interacts with and supports the endocrine system to help regulate hormones and maintain balance. Scientists believe that maca supports the pituitary and hypothalamus areas of the brain, which signals other glands of the endocrine system to produce optimal levels of hormones.
Can Maca Increase Oestrogen?
Maca does not act as an oestrogen mimic when present in the body. However, due to its influence on the endocrine system and potential to stimulate several glands to balance hormone levels, maca has the potential to indirectly increase oestrogen if levels are too low. More in-depth research in this area is necessary.
Maca for Weight Gain
There is no evidence to date to show that maca root has powerful effects on weight gain. Regular intake of maca may boost energy and therefore result in weight loss, or muscle gain if weight training.
Is It OK to Have Maca Every Day?
Generally, maca is considered a safe food supplement, but more tests are required to determine which doses (if any) could cause harm in children, pregnant women, or those with kidney or liver disease. Currently, it is recommended that you take no more than 3g each day for up to 4 months. If you have any concerns or are on prescription medication, consult your GP before taking maca.
How Long Does it Take for Maca to Start Working?
Although maca absorbs into the body’s tissues quite rapidly, many studies indicate that it could take several weeks of regular intake before results are seen. We would recommend beginning with a low dose of maca and gradually building up over 2-3 months to observe how your body tolerates maca and if you are experiencing any benefits or side effects.
Can You Take Maca at Night?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the best time to take maca. However, since the superherb may provide an energy boost, we would recommend taking it in the morning or whenever you require an uplift throughout the day.
Does Maca Help Sleep?
Maca is not typically used to induce sleep. However, by providing natural bursts of energy throughout the day, maca may indirectly help you achieve better sleep at night and over time, regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
Can You Take Maca on an Empty Stomach?
Yes. Taking maca on an empty stomach may help it to absorb more quickly. If you have any concerns or sensitivities, we recommend taking maca with food.
Does Maca Work Better with CBD Oil?
Some believe that many adaptogens work more effectively in the presence of CBD (cannabidiol). CBD, like maca, helps us adapt to external stressors, lessening symptoms of anxiety and providing a calming effect. CBD can also help us to focus and feel energised. Together, CBD and maca may work synergistically with enhanced effects on wellness, but further research is required to support this theory. If you wish to try maca with CBD, some brands offer infusions of the two, such as Mission C’s Pre-Workout + CBD oil; an intensely energising combination of broad-spectrum CBD, maca and ashwagandha that is ideal for a pre-workout shot of energy.
Safety and Risks
Maca is generally regarded as a safe food supplement and is not associated with any health risks or side effects in most people, at present. Consult your doctor if you wish to take maca while pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have a thyroid disease or are undergoing treatment for cancer.
Offering many potential wellbeing benefits, maca is rapidly growing in popularity as a health supplement. From increased energy and uplifted mood to boosted libido and better skin health, maca may significantly improve overall sense of wellbeing when taken regularly over several months. However, studies on the effects of maca remain in the preclinical stages and further human studies are required to fully understand the influence of maca on the human body.