Maca is the common name of the plant Lepidium meyenii , which is classified in the genus lepidium and in the brassicaceae family , to which kohlrabi, turnips, cabbages and mustard belong. Maca is a plant native to Peru, where it grows naturally in the Andes mountain range , at an altitude of more than 3,500 meters above sea level.It is grown mainly for its root, which is similar to radishes in size , but yellow, dark brown, and light red in color. Maca is physically similar to jicamas, as it is wider than elongated. This plant does well in the extreme climate of the Andes Mountains, and has been successfully cultivated in other areas.

Maca is cultivated mainly for its medicinal properties , which have been used since ancient times by Inca civilizations to treat a variety of conditions. To a lesser extent, it has also been used as an edible plant, since flour can be made from the root or its juice can be extracted.

What is maca for?

The main uses of maca are as food , both forage and human, and as a medicinal plant . It can be used fresh and dehydrated. Among its medicinal applications, it is used as an aphrodisiac plant and as a hormonal regulator . Currently, the dried root is exported in the form of flour, or in tablets and prepared with the extract of this plant.

It serves to:

  • Preparations and remedies
  • Make food
  • Take nutrients for the body
  • Aphrodisiac effects
  • Fertility treatments
  • Treat menstrual disorders
  • Treat erectile dysfunction
  • Treat chronic exhaustion and fatigue

Preparations and remedies

Maca in all its presentations, both dry and fresh and prepared, has applications for a multitude of purposes, such as:

  • Prepare maca flour
  • Prepare maca porridge
  • Prepare broths with maca
  • Making maca juices
  • Aphrodisiac effects
  • Improve sperm motility
  • Regulate menstrual cycles
  • Fight erectile dysfunction
  • Increase sperm production
  • Improve female fertility
  • Reduce menopausal discomfort
  • Prevent hyperplasia of the prostate
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Fight chronic fatigue
  • Prevent malnutrition
  • Prevent depression
  • Improve memory
  • Obtaining energy by consuming it
  • Make food supplements
  • Eat raw
  • Eat cooked

The root of maca is similar to jicama.

Make food

Maca has been used for hundreds of years as food, both human and animal. In many regions of the Andes Mountains, where the climate is extreme and arid, only maca plants grow.

Therefore, the inhabitants of these regions have used them for their food and for the nutrition of their animals . Currently, maca is marketed and exported to other countries to serve as a food and supplement, due to its enriching chemical composition.

For these purposes, the roots are usually removed and turned into flour, tablets, capsules, concentrates, nectar, jam and syrups, some of them combined with other plants or fruits.

Take nutrients for the body

Maca roots are very nutritious, since they are rich in minerals and contain alkaloids that improve and regulate hormonal functions. Substances such as:

  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Football
  • Manganese
  • Sodium
  • Potassium (it is especially rich in this element)
  • Vitamina A (Retinol)
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
  • Vitamina D (Calciferol)
  • Vitamin P
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein

It is for all these benefits that maca is prepared in the form of food porridge or flour, and is added to food.

Aphrodisiac effects

Maca contains alkaloids called macarrides and macaenes , substances that are polyunsaturated fatty acids with nutritional properties and that increase sexual performance .

The vitamins that this plant contains, especially those of the B complex , are necessary for the body to have enough energy and for the brain to function properly . Therefore, sexual performance is improved after ingesting the roots of maca.

Fertility treatments

Since ancient times, the roots of maca have been used by the Inca population, as a treatment for the prevention and cure of male and female infertility. Its effects have been proven over the years by numerous studies, although its quality is debated today.

Maca contains manganese , which is a mineral necessary for the formation of sex hormones and the health of the reproductive system in men and women. Other minerals such as copper , iron , iodine and zinc are also necessary for good reproductive health, therefore, as this plant is rich in these minerals, it is very beneficial for reproduction.

Maca roots have been used for generations to help increase the fertility of animals and humans. There is historical data that indicates that the Spanish colonizers noticed an increase in the fertility of the animals that consumed these roots, compared to those that did not ingest them.

Treat menstrual disorders

Maca is one of the Andean remedies to treat gynecological situations . This plant has the ability to regulate hormones , in addition to helping to improve blood circulation .

Therefore, women who suffer from menstrual disorders, premenstrual syndrome, menopause and other hormonal disorders find it beneficial to take supplements and supplements with the extract of this plant.

Treat erectile dysfunction

In the case of males, maca roots promote sperm motility , while increasing healthy sperm production and improving blood circulation in the genital area. This results in an increase in male fertility and the consistency of erections during sexual intercourse.

The properties of maca powder can be better exploited.

Treat chronic exhaustion and fatigue

Maca roots are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins, so their high nutritional level makes them ideal for treating anemia and malnutrition problems . It has been used for years by the Peruvian population to treat malnutrition in children and people suffering from exhaustion or fatigue.

In the past, these roots had to go through a special drying process, which was believed to improve their nutritional properties, but today most roots are no longer made to go through this process, but are subjected to solar radiation.

Currently, powdered maca roots are used in food supplements, tablets, shakes, concentrates and jams to combat malnutrition and improve physical performance, including specialized products for athletes.

Maca contraindications

Maca consumption should be under medical supervision or completely avoided in people such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Lactating women
  • Women taking contraceptives

Side effects of maca

Most people do not have symptoms after consuming maca, especially when it is ingested in the recommended doses. Among the possible side effects that may occur is an imbalance in the production of hormones .

This article is informational in nature and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.


Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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