What is the Maca plant?

MACA powder comes from the Maca plant, which is native and only grows in the Andes Mountains in Peru.  It is a vegetable (cruciferous) which is closely related to cabbage, kale, and broccoli. The Maca plant prefers to grow in very, very cold temperatures, an abundance of sunlight, and a lot of wind.  Those three factors are needed for the Maca plant to grow and thrive. People harvest the plant by pulling it out of the ground and going for the root. In reality, the root looks very much like an everyday radish you may find at a grocery store.  While there are different preparation techniques, as with most things, the most common way which it is prepared for many of its intended uses is that the root is dried and then it is ground into a very fine powder. Alternatively, some people wish for it in its pure liquid from which the harvester may boil the root and then it may be consumed as a drink.

As you may guess, it has a host of health benefits being so closely related to the three aforementioned vegetables which are well-known throughout the world.  The Maca plant has become extremely popular in recent years with its range of different benefits which will be covered in this article. When trying to explain the taste of Maca, most people have indicated that it has a sweet, earthy, and nutty flavor.  Others have even compared to the taste of Maca to that of butterscotch.

The health benefits of the Maca plant actually come when it is condensed to its powder form.  The root is where all of the nutrients and health benefits may be found in the plant. The root of the plant is also where all related Maca supplements and powders are made from; nothing else of the Maca plant contains the health benefits as the root.

If you have a personal trainer, a dietician, or casually follow bloggers or other writers looking for new and natural health supplements then you more than likely heard about Maca powder.  A lot of health professionals who use or recommend the use of Maca powder promote that it should be added to smoothies or other snacks to provide a workout or energy boost whenever you may need it.  Before diving too deep into the article, it should be disclosed that Maca powder is simply a supplement, not a magical “cure-all” or way of life. A supplement is just as its name suggests, a supplement.  When a supplement is used correctly then a person will reap the intended benefits. Unfortunately, some people believe a supplement will do all the work for them, which it does not. Any supplement is best used when combined with both a healthy diet and adequate exercise.

Benefit #1: Provides an energy boost

maca powder benefitsMaca powder is able to provide both athletes and the normal person an energy boost which is significantly healthier than sugary energy drinks or other unnatural products.  A lot of people have officially made the switch before they hit the gym in the morning before work or to get in a quick session right after work. Regardless of the time of day a person wishes to work out, a lot of people need something extra to both get ready and excited for the workout.  

People can mix their drink with the Maca powder to get that extra boost of energy.  The good thing is that it’s 100% natural and you actually know what you’re putting into your drink.  While energy mixes are available at various retailers which have been “specifically engineered” for energy boosts, the chances are that you not only don’t know the ingredients in them but can’t pronounce them as well.  If you’re looking for a quick and natural energy boost, then consider giving Maca powder a chance.

Related Article: Green Smoothie Recipe

Benefit #2: Helps regulate hormones

maca powder benefitsHormones.  What immediately comes to your mind when you hear or read that word?  The odds are that you think of them as those “chemicals” which regulate sexual reproduction.  This is absolutely true. However, hormones are so much more. Technically, hormones act as “chemical messengers” which tell all of your body’s organs and tissues of how and when to work.

They are put out in your blood and travel throughout the body.  They assist with numerous processes such as development, growth, sexual, reproductivity, mood, brain capacity, temperature, and much more.  When your body is experiencing a hormonal imbalance or other issues with hormones, it will negatively impact your body in a myriad of ways. A person suffering from a hormonal balance may suffer from one or more of the following symptoms: exhaustion, low energy, difficulty thinking or concentrating, decreased sexual drive, hot flashes (women), and/or an increased thirst sensation.

These types of hormonal changes can occur at any age.  Reasons which could cause a hormonal change or imbalance are age and natural genetics.  However, a person’s diet is one of the most common reasons of either maintaining a healthy hormonal balance or having them “go wild.”  A person who does not follow a healthy diet the majority of the time is likely to experience one or more of the symptoms listed in the previous paragraph as you’re not supplying your body with the proper nutrients it needs.

Using Maca powder may be able to help restore hormones to their natural levels or assist the person in keeping their hormones stabilized.  The Maca powder when entered into the body will act as an adaptogen, which will help give the body the chemicals it needs to properly produce hormones.  This will in turn stimulate the body to regulate the pituitary gland, which is responsible for releasing chemicals such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone into a person’s bloodstream.  Out of those body chemicals mentioned, progesterone is extremely important as it helps the body do the following: 1) keep blood sugar levels normal, 2) increases thyroid activity, 3) makes the body utilize fat for energy, 4) provides anti-inflammatory support, and 5) reduces any swelling or inflammation within the body.

Finally, in regard to hormones and chemicals within the body, more women are nowadays seeking Maca powder when they start to experience menopause.  Throughout history, a lot of women have turned to hormone replacement when going through menopause. Unfortunately, there have been recent questions in the medical community pertaining to the safety and usefulness of hormone replacement.  Instead, Maca powder is 100% safe because it is not a hormone, yet it can be used to actually regulate the hormones. All the rewards with none of the risk of traditional menopause treatments.

Benefit #3: Increased testosterone level

maca powder benefitsMaca powder increases a man’s testosterone level which not only increases their desire for and ability to have sex but provides another host of benefits as well.  Historians have noted that warriors during specific time periods would eat the Maca roots which would improve their energy level (see benefit #1) and increase muscle mass capacity to fight other tribes, their enemies.  The increase in testosterone will help a man during his workouts to lift heavier weights for longer periods; both leading to increasing muscle mass.

In regard to increased fertility and sexual drive, it is no secret that as a man becomes older his testosterone level decreases.  There is nothing that causes the decrease in testosterone levels other than the aging process. A decrease in testosterone leads to a decreased desire to both have sex as well as ability to ejaculate as quickly.  The Maca powder will help a man increase their testosterone level allowing them to improve the quality of their sex life; leading to an overall increase in happiness.

Benefit #4: Decreases stress and anxiety

maca powder benefitsA number of people have indicated that they have experienced lower levels and less frequent stress and anxiety since incorporating Maca powder into their supplement rotation.  Both stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on a person’s life. People seeking medical attention for these mental health issues is becoming more socially acceptable and less taboo.  More and more people are willing to admit they are experiencing mental illness and that they need help, either through a therapist and/or medication, and won’t be outcast as they may have been even just a decade ago.

Instead of taking medication to manage anxiety, some people have decided to seek natural alternatives.  While some people are able to manage their stress and anxiety through diet, exercise, and/or meditation, others still need to utilize supplements.  Maca powder is an excellent supplement for a person to attempt to manage their stress and anxiety. If you feel like you may suffer from anxiety or stress you should seek advice from a medical professional.  Only a medical professional can examine and provide an official diagnosis of either a physical or mental condition. If you are diagnosed with anxiety or stress you should at this point bring up your desire for natural management or healing remedies, such as Maca powder.  You should always adhere to the advice provided to you by your doctor.

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Benefit #5: Increases memory capacity

maca powder benefitsMaca powder has been found to improve a person’s memory.  Without being technical, Maca powder acts as both an antioxidant and AcHE inhibitor which protects and improves brain health.  These two benefits keep the brain’s neurotransmitters from wearing down. A person’s brains desperately needs those transmitters to learn, remember, and to even move the physical body.  Finally, as Maca powder acts as an AcHE inhibitor it can assist in the management of various serious diseases such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. While neither Maca powder or any other known drug has yet been found to cure one of the aforementioned diseases, the Maca powder may help manage or prevent further deterioration from disease.

Benefit #6: Improves body’s immunity

maca powder benefitsThe ability for Maca powder to improve a person’s immune system is one of the most cited reasons why people add it as a supplement to their daily routine, especially in winter months when people are more susceptible to becoming sick.  Maca powder works better the longer a person has been taking it so it’s highly recommended that either you take it on a consistent basis or start a month or so in advance of flu season or cold weather so your immune system already has a base from the Maca powder.

Related Article: 3 Whole Food Vitamins to Try

Benefit #7: Protection from the sun

maca powder benefitsIt’s common knowledge that the sun’s rays can be harmful if a person does not take the proper measures to protect themselves.  Over a period of time exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to wrinkles or even skin cancer.

Most people buy sunscreen from drugstores and apply before going out into the sun.  There is slight evidence that applying Maca powder extract to the skin may prevent some of the ultraviolet rays of damaging the skin.  Again, for it to even be considered effective the Maca powder extract must be applied onto the skin, not eaten as in the other methods previously mentioned.  However, there is not enough conclusive evidence that the Maca powder is effective enough for a person to completely discard their traditional sunscreen and solely use Maca powder.  To reiterate, for the time being until further studies have been performed, a person should still apply traditional sunscreen before going into the sun. This part is only to suggest that Maca powder has demonstrated the potential at some point to become completely effective as a sunscreen alternative.

Potential side effects of Maca powder

maca powder benefitsThe majority of studies have found that Maca has little to no risk associated with its use as long as it is taken in the recommended manner instructed.  It is imperative that a person carefully follow the instructions of how to take Maca. Peruvian natives have always advised against someone actually consuming the raw root of the Maca plant.  In other words, if you are shopping for the pure form of Maca and you come across a plant with the root still attached, do not under any circumstance eat the root in its raw form. To safely consume Maca the root should have either been dehydrated or boiled.  A person who consumes the raw Maca plant root is subject to becoming ill and other health issues.

During recent clinical studies, Maca can be tolerated in humans up to a maximum of 3 grams per day.  While each person’s threshold to tolerate Maca and even other types of medicine and supplements will vary because of genetic and other external variants, a person should be cautious if they are wishing to consume more than 3 grams of Maca a day.

One study examined nearly 100 persons who consumed Maca for 90 days.  Evidence of the study suggested that some participants suffered from increased levels of aspartate aminotransferase (liver damage) and diastolic blood pressure with metabolic syndrome.  Again, medication and supplements can affect persons differently based upon genetics and other external variants. Before starting any supplement, it is highly recommended to have a discussion with your primary physician or another medical professional.  The medical professional can examine your health history and any current conditions and could recommend or at minimum discuss the potential side effects of using any supplement.

It also should be noted that Maca contains a certain compound, MTCA, which can mutate DNA.  Because of Maca containing this compound a number of health professionals and other safety agencies have strongly recommended against its use.  Other agencies and medical professionals have acknowledged that even though the dangerous compound does exist in the Maca plant root it is completely inactive once it is properly prepared.  Again, this goes back to earlier in this section about the risk of people consuming the Maca plant’s raw root.

Finally, some women have reported that using Maca has had an impact on their menstrual cycle.  The impacts on a woman’s menstrual cycle may include altered timing/days, excessive stomach cramps, increased moodiness, and insomnia.  A woman considering incorporating Maca into their supplement regime should have a discussion with either their primary care physician or their gynecologist.

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Where to buy Maca powder

maca powder benefitsThanks to the rise in popularity of Maca powder over the last few years, there are numerous options available to where a person may purchase their Maca powder.  See the list below which provides some general information about where it may be purchased.

  • Online retailers: more specifically, Amazon.  This allows a person to shop around online to read about the specific product containing Maca powder while also being able to read reviews which previous customers have posted.  The only drawback to shopping through an online retailer is that there is a delay of getting and starting to use the product. However, and this depends on how patient of a person you are, a lot of people are Amazon Prime members which allows for certain products to be shipped in a two-day period from the date of purchase.  Also, other online retailers allow the consumer to pay more for expedited shipping which will also allow the product to be shipped to your doorstep earlier than standard shipping.




  • Major retailers: these include your major drug and grocery stores which carry medicine and other supplements such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and Rite-Aid.  They usually carry a large selection of a variety of natural products which allows a person to “shop around” while in the store reading the label. Similar to purchasing products online, because consumers have their internet-connected phones on them at all times it now allows for the prospective consumer to read reviews about the product before ultimately deciding on which product they are going to purchase.  With any review, your common consumer will likely only take the time out of their day or night to provide a written review of a product for one of two reasons. The first reason is that they were extremely dissatisfied with the product. This means they want others to not buy the product as well as are likely hoping to harm the company’s bottom line by turning prospective customers away. The second reason is that they are extremely pleased with the product and want to strongly encourage others to take the leap of faith on the product like they did.
  • Natural/Holistic stores: these types of stores are not associated with the major retailers mentioned in the previous bullet.  Rather, these are the small businesses which are typically locally and family-owned. The odds are they have a limited selection of products in their stores and focus on a lot of natural healing medicine, roots, herbs, etc.  Be prepared to pay a premium for these products are they are likely not manufactured by large companies and these types of stores do generally charge more for their products. However, the good thing about shopping for Maca powder at a place like this is the individual attention you are likely to receive from either the owner or an employee.  For a person to either own or work at a store as such they are likely to have a deep passion and knowledge about the products which they are selling. This is especially beneficial to a person who has a lot of questions or it is their first time searching for such products. They will provide you with the time and information which you will not receive via shopping at either of the two previous types of stores.

General comments from people who have previously used Maca powder

maca powder benefitsThere are many different Maca powder products available and a lot of people have taken to discussion boards and other reviews to provide feedback regarding their experience with Maca powder.  The bullets below are not reviews verbatim; however, the author has reviewed numerous comments and feedback and has generalized the comments into specific bullets.

  • Maca powder is very easy to take.  If a person has the ability to mix in sugar with their coffee or tea there is no reason why someone shouldn’t be able to mix in Maca powder.  A lot of people state that they mix in their Maca powder with their morning coffee which provides for them a “double energy boost” to get the morning started.
  • The Maca powder has provided a sense of calmness via relieving anxiety and/or stress.  Similar to how some people take Maca powder in the morning to give them an energy boost, others take Maca powder in the evenings to take their mind off the day’s stresses which allows for them to both fall asleep faster and stay asleep.  You might be a little curious to wonder how a product is able to provide an energy boost to some people yet calms others. This goes back to a recurring discussion throughout the entire article in that any supplement or medicine can impact two people in different ways based upon genetic factors and other external variables.  For instance, your wife may mix in Maca powder with her 2:00 PM after lunch coffee to prevent the tired feeling many experience in the workday around that time while you take your Maca powder with water after dinner to relieve stress and fall asleep. There really is no way to tell how the Maca powder will impact you until you actually take the product for yourself.
  • Some reviewers have stated they have tried multiple Maca powders to mix in with a variety of drinks but have not been able to find any which they like.  However, Maca powder also comes in capsules which provide the same health and nutritional benefits but are almost tasteless if taken correct. Again, each person’s taste preference differs as well as there are many different Maca powders on the market which varying flavors.  Most people would recommend that after trying about three different varieties of Maca powder if you still can’t find one which pleases your taste buds then it’s time to move on to capsules. On the other spectrum, some users said they have no desire to taste or even mix in Maca powder with any drink as they are only interested in taking the substance for the health benefits.  In this case, it is recommended that you entirely skip the Maca powder and move straight to purchasing the capsules.
  • A number of female reviews have noted that Maca powder has significantly improved female-specific problems such as menopause and periods.  Some indicate that since taking the Maca powder they have noticed either their hot flashes have completely stopped or that they are not as intense as they once were.  Other female reviewers note that the Maca powder has led to their menstrual cramps not being as severe and even seems that it helps their significant hormonal imbalance to stay somewhat intact.
  • Going along the same line as an energy booster, a lot of reviews noticed that since taking Maca powder that they have also experienced an overall better mood and outlook on life.  Some note that it may simply be a byproduct of an increase of energy but both them and others around them have noticed them being significantly happier.
  • A fair number of reviewers strongly recommend that people search online for recipes which are recommended to add Maca powder.  Whether you are looking for a shake or food there are many recipes available online which show how to incorporate Maca powder as one of the ingredients.  Some recipes even have videos exhibiting to people how to exactly make the final product from beginning to end.
  • A popular and common reason people take Maca powder as it is known to increase a person’s libido, also known as their sexual drive.  The reviews online were fairly mixed as some people reported not experiencing any increased sex drive whereas others noted it significantly increased their sex drive, both to the pleasure of both them and their partner.

Does Maca lead to weight gain or weight loss?

maca powder benefitsThe answer to this question is, “both.”  The reason Maca can be attributed to both weight gain and loss is how it is used by the consumer.  This is why you will have some people claim it caused weight loss while others claim it caused them to gain weight.  Here are some facts to explore.

Maca and weight loss:

  • Maca only has approximately 12 calories in a teaspoon, which is about the amount which a person would be adding to their shake.  Common knowledge indicates that 12 additional calories in a normal drink will not cause any form of significant weight gain.
  • Maca contains a variety of nutrients which promotes a higher rate of metabolism.  Most people know that the higher a person’s metabolism the higher rate which their body will burn fat.  The loss of fat will in turn cause a person to have a lower weight.
  • The other effects of Maca on a person, such as an increased in energy and overall mood, will also increase the likelihood of them being engaged in exercise and other outdoor activities.  The more active and outgoing a person is the more calories they expend leading in turn to weight loss.
  • Going along the theme of the previous bullet, Maca has also been known to alleviate depression and other mental health disorders.  Often when people have depression or another form of mental health disorder, they are very lethargic and are more prone to overeat.  The Maca powder can assist a person to alleviate these conditions which may get them more involved in an active lifestyle and prevent overeating habits due to the mental health disorders.

Maca and weight gain:

  • As previously mentioned, Maca powder is extremely low calorie so there is no evidence that the caloric content can contribute to weight gain.
  • Maca powder is an anabolic which can increase the rate which a person is able to gain muscle.  The more muscle mass a person has the more they weigh. Muscle is denser than fat which is what results in a person weight more when in theory their belt and shirt size may have not changed.
  • Even though Maca powder causes a person to increase their energy level which may lead to additional exercise and activities, it is also known to induce hunger leading to a person consuming more calories.  Exercising more but increasing caloric intake is likely to cancel out any weight loss potential; however, the increase in exercise may lead to muscle gain then resulting in weight gain.

Maca and sperm count

If a man is seeking to become a father, then it is recommended that he should incorporate Maca powder into his supplement regime.  It has been found that daily doses of Maca powder have been found to both increase the sperm count and the sperm motility. Most people are aware of what sperm count is.  Sperm motility is the sperm’s ability to move through a woman’s reproductive system in order to actually fertilize an egg. Both of these variables are extremely important in actually conceiving a child.  In fact, if a couple is trying to conceive it would be beneficial to both partners to start a daily regime of Maca powder. It will enhance the sexual drive and performance of both partners while also increasing the potency of the man’s sperm.

Can a person overdose by taking too much Maca powder?

maca powder benefitsAs of the date of this article there have not been any confirmed deaths related to a person consuming too much Maca powder.  It is hypothesized that a person cannot die from taking too much Maca powder. However, some people may experience negative side effects from taking too much.  People have reported that they have experienced jitters, insomnia, paranoia, and other digestive problems from taking too much Maca powder. As with any supplement, it is recommended that for the first time a person carefully follow the dosage on the packaging, maybe even taking a little less at first just to see how your body may react to the new substance.

Should you try Maca?

Based upon the information available and the findings in this article it is hard to formulate an argument against someone at least attempting to incorporate Maca powder into their daily supplement routine.  If you were to search for Maca products and read the reviews via online retailer’s websites, you’ll notice that most of the comments are fairly positive. Additionally, you’ll find government-issued articles supporting evidence for the benefits of Maca for certain aspects.  However, as a final word, before starting any new diet, medicine, exercise routine, or supplement regime it is strongly recommended to seek the advice of your primary physician or another medical professional. Make sure in your consultation to provide your complete medical history along with a list of any and all drugs, medicine, or supplements you are currently taking just to make sure there won’t be any counterproductive results from mixing any substances.  If your doctor gives you the green light to proceed to try Maca then go about your search using the methods listed earlier in this article. Make sure to buy from a reputable retailer while also taking into consideration reviews from previous consumers. It would be bad to not experience the full positive impacts which Maca may offer because you purchased a bad quality product.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]













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Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

May 3, 2019