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Before we get into the benefits of Maca root, first let's learn some basic things about what it is and how it works. An extract of Lepidium peruvianum, a high-altitude root plant popularly known as maca, (and nicknamed the "Andes Aphrodisiac"), has been shown to regulate several key physiological pathways of sexual dysfunction. It has been used in South America for centuries to enhance fertility in humans and even animals. It's known as a powerful strength and stamina enhancer as well as a libido enhancer in men and women both. Maca is believed to work primarily by providing the optimum balance of nutrients utilized by the body's neuroendocrine system.
Scientists discovered the significant complementary effects of maca extract, which has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. Maca is believed to influence three different mechanisms to:
Modulate the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Regulate adrenal gland function. Optimize levels of brain neurotransmitters, in turn reducing the risk of decreased libido, depression, and sexual dysfunction.
Unlike soy products and flaxseeds, maca is free of plant hormones (such as phytoestrogens and isoflavones), yet it still regulates hormone production and supports a healthy endocrine system.
The benefits of maca were assessed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Fourteen postmenopausal women were given each day either placebo or powdered maca that translates to 583 mg to 875 mg a day of product, because it is formulated as a 4-6:1 extract. Sexual problems were measured using subscales of the Greene Climacteric Scale, which provides a measure of menopausal symptoms. The participants who took maca were found to score more than 34% lower (which by this measure means better) than the placebo subjects on a standard sexual dysfunction scale. This significant improvement was observed in just six weeks! Also, the maca subjects tested 30% lower on the psychological subscale of anxiety and depression symptoms, a substantial improvement for a period of just six weeks!
Also, to determine maca's effect on sexual dysfunction in cases that had been specifically diagnosed to be caused by taking antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), scientists carried out a double-blind, randomized, pilot study on 20 subjects. Sexual dysfunction was found to be reduced in the group that received macawith mean scores decreased by 25.8%, and 29.4%, on two standard sexual dysfunction scales (the ASEX and the MGH-SFQ questionnaires, respectively). Libido also improved and no adverse side effects were found.
20. Piacente S, Carbone V, Plaza A, Zampelli A, Pizza C. Investigation of the tuber constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.). J Agricul Food Chem. 2002;50(20):5621-21. Gonzales GF, C órdova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, G óñez C. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men. J Endocrinol. 2003 Jan;176(1):163-8.
22. Bogani P, Simonini F, Iriti M, et al. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) does not exert direct androgenic activities. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Apr 6;104(3):415-7.
23. Brooks NA, Wilcox G, Walker KZ, Ashton JF, Cox MB, Stojanovska L. 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. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62.
24. Gonzales GF. Ethnobiology and ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496. Epub 2011 Oct 2.
25. Dording CM, Fisher L, Papakostas G, et al. A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.