The two main things Maca is known for in the West is for its ability to promote healthy performance in the bedroom and as a nutritional powerhouse.
What is Maca?
Maca has been used for thousands of years by the peoples of the Andes as a staple food. Its ability to grow at elevations between 4,000 m (13,123 ft) and 4,500 m (14,764 ft) are what makes this plant so special. It thrives there because the extreme environment (freezing temperatures, hard sunlight, constant high winds) favors those plants that reside mostly underground, hence Maca and papas (commonly known as potatoes).
It was ‘found’ by the Spaniards probably sometime before 1553 when the first account of it was recorded. A hundred years later, a priest referred to, “the use of the root for fertility and as a stimulant.”*
The Maca found in supplements is the root of the plant. It looks similar to a potato and comes in just as many colors. There is generally considered three colors that have slightly different effects in people. These are:
White Maca (sometimes Yellow in color)
Red Maca (sometimes more Pink in color)
Black Maca (sometimes Purple in color)
Maca is actually part of the mustard family. This is where it probably gets the name of Pepper Grass and Pepper Weed. It is not related to the potato as many would assume but more closely related to things like turnips (obvious) and cabbage (not so obvious).
Maca has been researched quite extensively and much of the effects it is claimed to possess have been validated. Much is, however, still a mystery.
The two main things Maca is known for in the West is for its ability to promote healthy performance in the bedroom and as a nutritional powerhouse.* We shall review both of these in turn.
Maca Supports Healthy Performance in the Bedroom*
Perhaps the greatest mystery is how exactly it assists the body in promoting healthy performance in the bedroom.* Multiple studies have shown that it is not through the normal pathways like increasing androgens or estrogen or lowering anxiety or depression levels. [3,4]
One of these studies found, “that compared with placebo Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time,” yet it promoted healthy performance in the bedroom and desire in the group it was administered too. *
Thoughts are that maybe it is the macamides, which are a lipid compound in Maca. A lipid extract of Maca has been found to produce these effects.*
Maca’s Other Benefits
Chinese Medicine views this as a warm food. Its applications are nourishing, building and have a tonifying effect on the body.*
Maca has also been traditionally used and found to be helpful in the following areas:
Helps the body build muscle*
Adaptogenic Effects [7,8,9]*
Promotes healthy bone density *
Memory stabilization and neuroprotective effects [11,12]*
Recently, Maca has been enjoying a resurgence of one of its traditional uses which is that of a stimulant. There are now a few companies that promote it as a coffee substitute.
There is no associated “crash” like may occur with caffeine and it has been shown to help stimulate and modulate the stress response.[7,8,9]*
If the idea of giving up the ritual of your morning coffee is too much though, throwing some Maca into it gives it an excellent flavor and can help mitigate the effects of crashing later in the day by working on the adrenals. This effect is similar to how adding mushrooms like Reishi to coffee helps mitigate coffee’s overstimulating aspects.
This is the type of Maca we are currently selling. It is Certified Organic, 100% pure raw black Maca root powder.
This type has been found to be the best at increasing energy levels.*
It also is especially good for supporting men’s performance in the bedroom.* The variant of Black Maca appears to be the most effective at protecting the genitals of all the Maca colors.*
We do not want to ignore the ladies though and are looking into obtaining Red Maca which seems to be better for them as well as for male prostate health in general.
That being said, women will certainly benefit from consuming Black Maca, especially in regards to sustaining their energy levels as well as the other effects mentioned above for all the colors.
The Differences Between Gelatinized and Raw?
Gelatinized Maca is just lightly roasted. Unfortunately, this process can degrade the amino acids so nutritionally, it is not as good as that of the raw.
The recommended dosage is 10 to 30 grams per day meaning each bag will last you 1 to 3 weeks. This is approximately 1 to 3 Tbsp per day. This stuff is dense.
Studies have found that dosages as small as 1 tsp can have an effect on people so you can certainly experiment with smaller than the minimum dose. Some people appear to be very sensitive with Maca and can get the benefits on a lower dose.
We, however, wish for it to be used as it is traditionally used, that of a supplemental food source. And because of its raw form, more is needed then would be the case with an extract. As always, experiment and find what works for you.