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Peruvian Maca – What Is It? – by The Maca Experts

Peruvian Maca – What Is It? - by The Maca Experts

Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) has been used for centuries by the Incan people of Peru for its medicinal properties. Called the ‘food of the brain’, maca is an adaptogen that helps the brain and body respond and adapt to stress to return balance to the body’s natural endocrine function. Maca is ideal for those suffering from internal hormonal imbalances, particularly related to stress. It comes in a powdered form and can be added to meals or taken in capsules. It is best to consume maca daily for a minimum 6-12 weeks for optimum benefit. It is 100% natural and can be taken by anyone; women, men, children, young and old, with unique benefits for each.

What to know about maca before you take it?

The shamans of Peru claimed that maca was only medicinal once dry and needed to be cooked to ‘unlock the medicine’. Scientific studies have shown that traditional drying and cooking of maca is essential for its activity and safety. So when it comes to maca, raw is not best and it is better to use a heat-treated, activated or gelatinized maca as this can be safely consumed in smoothies or other uncooked foods. It is best therefore to avoid using raw maca powder as this is less versatile and requires cooking before eating.

What can maca be used to treat?

Clinical studies have shown that maca powder can improve energy[i], mood and mental health,[ii] hormone balance including reducing symptoms of menopause and PMS,[iii] fertility,[iv] metabolic function,[v] sexual dysfunction and libido[vi]  and in reducing levels of inflammation.[vii] Furthermore the different colours of Maca have also been shown to be unique in their modes of action. Red maca for example is most effective for improving bone density[viii], female fertility[ix] and male prostate function.[x] Red Maca is considered to be internally harmonising calming, nourishing and nurturing for the organs and bones. Black maca was shown to be the most effective for improving memory function, learning ability, brain clarity[xi] and athletic performance.[xii] For men, black maca showed the most pronounced increase in sperm production and function compared to the other colours and also in increasing libido.[xiii] Black maca is deemed externally harmonising, energising and uplifting. Yellow maca is the most common form of maca and is considered neutral. It is used for general balance, well-being, resilience to stress and improving thyroid function. Understanding the colours of maca can assist with choosing the right maca powder for the specific condition you are trying to treat.

Where can you buy quality Maca Powder?

Making therapeutic grade maca is a blend of tradition, art and science. There are so many variables that can influence the quality during production and in turn alter the taste, texture and therapeutic properties of the final powder. Couple this with the ethics and sustainability of how it is sourced and finding a quality powder that isn’t hurting a community or the environment can be like finding a needle in a haystack. How do we know whether or not the powder we buy is worth the cost we pay? What is the best maca to buy? And how do we know whether or not we are fuelling the exploitation of farmers and communities in Peru?

We source our maca from The Maca Experts – a small Australian based family business run by. They spend 3-4 months per year working directly with their farmers and produce farm to table artisanal maca following the ancient traditions of cultivation. They believe in superfood social responsibility and donate $2 per kg sold to a fund to help the children of their farming community. They run retreats to Peru to connect with both maca and cacao. Their maca research program in collaboration with the University of Victoria works to bring credible scientific evidence to support the ancient Incan traditions surrounding maca and helps create premium and therapeutic products for consumers. We are proud to be part of the journey to bring change to our superfoods industry and supply you with direct farm to table, artisanal and sustainably produced organic maca. Visit us in store or shop online to get quality maca from The Maca Experts.

[i](a) Shin, S., et al., Gelatinized and fermented powders of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improve physical stamina and epididymal sperm counts in male mice. J. Emb. Trans, 2008. 23: p. 283-289. Gelatinized and fermented powders of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improve physical stamina and epididymal sperm counts in male mice (b) Choi, E.H., et al., Supplementation of standardised lipid-soluble extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) increases swimming endurance capacity in rats. Journal of Functional Foods, 2012. 4(2): p. 568-573. Supplementation of standardized lipid-soluble extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) increases swimming endurance capacity in rats

[ii] Brooks, N. A., Wilcox, G., Walker, K. Z., Ashton, J. F., Cox, M. B., & Stojanovska, L. (2008). 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. Menopause15(6), 1157-1162. see details

[iii] Meissner, H. O., Mrozikiewicz, P., Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T., Mscisz, A., Kedzia, B., Lowicka, A., Reich-Bilinska H, Kapczynski W & Barchia, I. (2006). Hormone-balancing effect of pre-gelatinized organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon):(I) biochemical and pharmacodynamic study on Maca using clinical laboratory model on ovariectomized rats. International journal of biomedical science: IJBS2(3), 260. see details (b) Meissner, H. O., Kedzia, B., Mrozikiewicz, P. M., & Mscisz, A. (2006). Short and long-term physiological responses of male and female rats to two dietary levels of pre-gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon). International journal of biomedical science: IJBS2(1), 13. see details (c) Brooks, N. A., Wilcox, G., Walker, K. Z., Ashton, J. F., Cox, M. B., & Stojanovska, L. (2008). 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. Menopause15(6), 1157-1162. see details

[iv] Zinaman, M. J., Brown, C. C., Selevan, S. G., & Clegg, E. D. (2000). Semen quality and human fertility: a prospective study with healthy couples. Journal of Andrology, 21(1), 145- 153. see details. (b) Gonzales, G. F. (2015) Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496. see details

[v] Meissner, H. O., Reich-Bilinska, H., Mscisz, A., & Kedzia, B. (2006). Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) used as a non-hormonal alternative to HRT in perimenopausal women-Clinical Pilot Study. International journal of biomedical science: IJBS2(2), 143. see details

[vi] Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Vega, K., Chung, A., Villena, A., Góñez, C., & Castillo, S. (2002). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia, 34(6), 367-372. (b) Zenico, T., Cicero, A. F. G., Valmorri, L., Mercuriali, M., & Bercovich, E. (2009). Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well‐being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double‐blind clinical trial. Andrologia41(2), 95-99.see details

[vii] Zheng, W., et al., Lepidium meyenii Walp Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Activity against ConA-Induced Acute Hepatitis. Mediators Inflamm, 2018. 2018: p. 8982756. see details

[viii] Gonzales C, Cárdenas-Valencia I, Leiva-Revilla J, Anza-Ramirez C, Rubio J, Gonzales GF. Effects of different varieties of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized rats. Forsch Komplementmed. 2010;17(3):137-143. doi:10.1159/000315214. see details

[ix] Gonzales, G. F. (2015) Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a

Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496. see details

[x] Gonzales, C., et al., Effect of red maca (Lepidium meyenii) on prostate zinc levels in rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia. Andrologia, 2012. 44 Suppl 1: p. 362-9. see details

[xi] (a) Rubio J, Caldas M, Dávila S, Gasco M, Gonzales GF. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006;6(1):23-27. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-23. see details .(b) Rubio, J., et al., Aqueous Extract of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Memory Impairment Induced by Ovariectomy in Mice. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2011. 2011: p. 253958-253958. see details

[xii] Wan, W., Li, H., Xiang, J., Yi, F., Xu, L., Jiang, B., & Xiao, P. (2018). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca Prevents Metabolism Disorder via Regulating the Glycolysis/Gluconeogenesis-TCA Cycle and PPARα Signaling Activation in Golden Hamsters Fed a High-Fat, High-Fructose Diet. Frontiers in pharmacology9, 333. see details

[xiii] Gonzales, G. F., Nieto, J., Rubio, J., & Gasco, M. (2006). Effect of Black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on one spermatogenic cycle in rats. Andrologia38(5), 166-172.see details