Maca

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Information about Maca

Maca is a vegetable and food as well as a traditional herbal medicine derived from the roots of a perennial plant (Lepidium meyenii) that grows in high altitudes of Peru and is used to promote health and improve wellness, sexual function and fertility. 

Liver safety of Maca

Maca has not been implicated in causing liver injury either in the form of transient serum enzyme elevations or clinically apparent liver injury.  

Mechanism of action of Maca

Maca (ma' ka) is a food and traditional herbal medicine derived from the roots of a perennial plant (Lepidium meyenii) cultivated at high altitudes in the Andes mountains.  Also known as “Peruvian ginseng” is belongs to the genus Lepidium and family Brassica (mustard).  Maca is unique in being one of the few edible plants that can survive the intense cold, sunlight and strong winds found above 4000 m in the Peruvian Andes.  In Peru, maca has been used for centuries as a food supplement to improve health and for its medicinal properties to enhance energy and fertility.  The principal and edible part of the maca plant is the underground tuber, which is similar to a radish or turnip and varies in size and color (white, black, red).  The principal components of maca are carbohydrates and protein and it is an excellent source of essential amino acids, iron and calcium. Secondary components include macaridine, macaenes, macamides and maca alkaloids that are unique to this plant.  It also has multiple sterols and glucosinolates.  In experimental animals, maca extracts increase sexual function and improve fertility.  Other activities include improvement in memory and learning, decrease in prostate size and improvement in bone mineralization.  Studies in humans have had conflicting results, but it has been promoted as improving sexual desire and improving sperm counts, improving mood, memory and learning, as well as energy and physical stamina.  None of these effects have been proven in prospective, rigorously controlled trials in humans. 

RDA intake of Maca

The recommended daily dose varies widely (500 to 3000 mg daily), depending on the preparation used (capsules, tablets, liquid, root extract) and indications. 

Side effects of Maca

Side effects of maca are uncommon and mild, and mostly include gastrointestinal symptoms and headaches.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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