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Maca Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on January 10, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii)


The Maca is an herbaceous plant that is native to Peru and Bolivia. It is also known as maca-maca, maino, ayak willku, ayak chichira. It is also called Peruvian ginseng and Pepperweed.

The Maca root is the most commonly used part of the plant for herbal medication. This taproot may look like an inverted pear and may also be available in varied shapes. The Maca root grows and is cultivated much like a radish and a turnip. The roots are cream colored and are rather sweet tasting. However, there are other varieties of the Maca root which are colored blue or black.

History and Origin

The name Maca is native to the languages of the people of Peru. The plant has been used as a root crop throughout the Central and South American regions. It was described and studied by Gerhard Walpers in 1843; different specimens of the many types or varieties of the Maca root were studied as well.

Ancient Uses

The use of the Maca root in ancient times was noted in the Peruvian tribes of the Andean mountains dating back to 1600 B.C. The Maca root was used as a root crop by the ancient tribes.
It was also noted that the Maca root was used as a powerful aphrodisiac and would give Inca warriors strength and vitality in battle. It was also used to enhance the male fertility and sexual potency.

Modern Uses

The Maca root is still used as a vegetable in today’s modern times and is often seen in Peruvian cooking. The Maca root is made into Maca flour, drinks and other processed foods. It is considered one of the staple foods of people in this region.

The use of this herb is still primarily for the treatment of infertility. It has been known to contain powerful chemicals that make the Maca root an effective aphrodisiac. Glucosinolates are found in the Maca root making it an ideal herbal remedy for infertility in both men and women.

There are food supplements which contains Maca root and are sold or branded as a herbal tonic to increase stamina and sexual potency, especially in men. There has been laboratory studies regarding the effect of Maca root in laboratory rats; and it has been found that the Maca root reduces enlarged prostrates in rats.

Side Effects

Since the Maca root is found to contain a high amount of glucosinolates, it could possibly worsen goiters or may cause a goiter to occur if taken in high does. So it is best to always follow proper dosage information or to consult a doctor or herbalsit regarding the use of Maca root supplements for your illness, to treat infertility or as an aphrodisiac.

The Maca root is not recommended for breast feeding and lactating mothers. It is not recommended for children. If you are currently taking any medication for an illness, consult your doctor regarding the use of Maca root supplements since it may have an adverse effect on your medications. Never self medicate and always follow recommended dosage of any herbal preparation.

Suggested Products

Organic Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii)

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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