Maca is a plant native to Peru that has historically been used as a food and herbal medicine for thousands of years.
The roots of the maca plant are harvested, dried, and powdered, and this maca root powder is traditionally added to food or used as medicine.
The Andean people have used maca root for thousands of years, but it’s quickly gaining popularity as a dietary supplement in the US.
However, maca root was relatively unknown outside of Peru until the 1990s, when it was developed into an important herbal medicine in China, so it is often overshadowed by other herbal supplements like ginseng and turmeric.
In the last few years, maca supplements have exploded in popularity due to claims that they can cure health issues like infertility and fatigue, but is the hype real? And how long does it take for maca root to work?
Because maca root supplements are relatively new to the US, there is little research on their effects and many hyperbolic claims about their purported health benefits.
This article explains what maca root is, how long does it take to see results from maca root pills, the difference between the yellow, red, and black colors, and highlights the potential health benefits and maca powder dosage that may help with your health issues.
Table of Contents
- What Is Maca Root?
- How Long Does It Take for Maca Root To Work?
- Usage of Maca Root
- Does Maca Give You Energy?
- Does Maca Root Work: Benefits of Maca Root
- How Does Maca Root Make You Feel?
- How Much Maca Root Should I Take?
- Red vs Yellow vs Black Maca Root: Which Is Best for Weight Gain?
What Is Maca Root?
The maca plant (scientific name Lepidium meyenii) is a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli and is noted as having a nutty, earthy flavor.
Maca is native to the Peruvian Andes Mountain range and has been cultivated by the Andean people for more than 2000 years, as it’s one of the few edible plants that can grow in the region.
The root of the maca plant contains a variety of macro and micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, alkaloids, and glucosinolates, which may cause the medicinal benefits of maca root capsules and pills.
Maca root comes in three colors – yellow, red, and black – which have slightly different health benefits. Yellow is the most common variety (60-70% of a typical harvest), while red (20-25%) and black (10-15%) maca roots are much rarer.
How Long Does It Take for Maca Root To Work?
There is very little human research on the effects of maca roots, so it is nearly impossible to say exactly when it will start working for you, no matter what maca root before and after success stories you’ve heard.
Additionally, some of the purported benefits of maca root will take much longer to show than others – while you may notice an improved mood in as little as a couple of days, weight gain will naturally take longer.
Instead, many of Maca roots’ benefits are subtle, and you may not notice improvements to your energy levels or hormonal balance for some weeks after you start taking supplements.
It’s important to remember that many of the trials investigating maca root benefits took place over months at a time, so don’t expect instant results when asking how long it takes for maca root to work.
Usage of Maca Root
The Andean people traditionally used maca as a food and medicine, consuming it in fermented drinks and porridge or using it to treat various health conditions like rheumatic disease and respiratory conditions.
The root is commonly processed into a powder and added to dietary supplements like red maca root pills and black maca extract. Thanks to its new popularity, many people have begun mass-producing maca in other parts of the world, such as the mountainous Yunnan region of China.
Does Maca Give You Energy?
Maca root is well-known for its purported ability to boost energy levels, which is believed to be due to its high iron and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) content.
While there are very few studies on maca root for energy, the studies that do compare the effects of maca root before and after taking supplements have some impressive results.
For example, a 2016 study found that taking 3g of red or black maca root powder daily improved mood and energy over 12 weeks.
Similarly, a 2015 study found that maca supplements reduced symptoms of depression in postmenopausal women, supporting claims that maca root can boost energy and mood.
Does Maca Root Work: Benefits of Maca Root
Since maca root was first introduced to the global market, there have been many bold claims about its health benefits, leading some to nickname it the ‘Peruvian Ginseng’ for libido, fertility, and energy.
Regardless of the tall tales, maca root is a potent mix of fiber, carbs, vitamins, and minerals with many beneficial active ingredients, so there are plenty of reasons to recommend maca root for men and women.
Here are the four main benefits of maca supplements:
May increase libido
Some evidence shows that taking strong maca powder dosages may increase libido (sexual desire) and sexual function after supplementing for at least six weeks.
However, more research is needed to prove the link between maca root and libido, and it’s currently unclear if maca is effective in treating low libido and sexual dysfunction in humans.
May improve male fertility
Limited studies show that taking maca supplements may help improve sperm concentration (the number of sperm per mm of semen), which is closely linked to male fertility.
A 2020 study found that taking 2g of maca per day for 12 weeks significantly improved sperm concentration, so there is some proof to recommend maca root for men concerned about fertility.
It may help relieve menopausal symptoms
Some studies suggest that maca may help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and interrupted sleep, though there isn’t enough evidence to prove it.
Still, if you’re suffering from menopausal symptoms, maca root capsules and pills may be able to offer you some relief that you may struggle to get from OTC medicine.
May improve mood and energy
Studies show that maca may help improve energy levels and mood, boosting mood and energy and even reducing symptoms of depression.
However, the studies involved high doses (3g per day) over long periods (6-12 weeks), so you may have to stock up on red maca root pills to get these benefits.
How Does Maca Root Make You Feel?
Unlike some supplements, maca root won’t give you any immediate benefits, so don’t expect to see massive changes like in that exaggerated maca root before and after ads. If you still want to know, how long for Maca to kick in, we have got a rough number.
Based on customer reviews, you should expect minor benefits around day three of taking supplements, such as slightly improved energy levels and mood, as it takes some time to affect your system.
Even when taking black maca extract, which is believed to be a highly potent form of maca that improves memory, mood, and male sexual health, it still takes several days for the benefits of maca to be felt.
However, some users with mental or sexual issues (such as erectile dysfunction caused by SSRI medication) reported dramatic improvements in mood and sex drive right away, so your mileage may vary.
How Much Maca Root Should I Take?
As maca root is a relatively new supplement in the US, there are a lot of uncertainties around how long it takes for maca root to work and how much you should take.
Fortunately, maca root is generally safe, and studies investigating its effects did not find any adverse side effects, with most studies using a daily dose of 3g.
Furthermore, maca root is widely consumed as a food in Andean culture, with some traditional preparations using much more than the 3g maca powder dosage observed in medical studies.
Because maca root is consumed as a food with no known side effects, we believe it is highly unlikely that you could overdose and recommend taking 3-6g of maca root per day to make the most of its potential health benefits.
Red vs Yellow vs Black Maca Root: Which Is Best for Weight Gain?
Maca is commonly used to improve mood, energy, and sexual health, but could maca root capsules and pills also help you gain weight? Many claim that maca root can help improve body composition and enhance curviness, but there is limited evidence to support these claims.
So, while maca may not help you gain weight in the right places, it can help you build muscle combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Supplementing with maca root powder can help improve energy and mood, enhancing physical performance, but which variety is best for packing the pounds the right way?
Yellow Maca Root
Yellow maca is the most common variety of maca root and contains a wide array of bioactive ingredients but in lower concentrations than the red or black varieties, making it less immediately effective at boosting weight gain.
Because yellow maca is a more neutral form of maca, using maca root for men and women is believed to be safe in the long term and may help with hormonal imbalances, energy, and fertility.
Red Maca Root
Red maca is much rarer than its yellow counterpart and is used for acute treatments in traditional Peruvian medicine, as it contains higher concentrations of bioactive compounds, including amino acids.
Furthermore, red maca root pills are believed to support hormonal balance, which may help you maintain a healthy weight and build mass.
Black Maca Root
By far the rarest form of maca, black maca is considered sacred by Andean shamans, who traditionally use black maca extract to treat chronic health conditions.
However, animal studies show that black maca promotes a healthy metabolism which may help you gain weight, making it your best option for weight gain.
The maca plant is often called Peruvian ginseng and has been consumed as a food and herbal medicine by the Andeans for hundreds of years.
While it is high in vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds, there is little evidence that maca root capsules and pills can provide concrete benefits like improved energy, mood, and fertility in humans.
So, while much of the hype surrounding maca root powder may not be backed up by hard science, many people swear by its health benefits, particularly regarding mood and fertility.
Furthermore, maca root is widely considered safe and has no serious adverse side effects – after all, the Andeans have been eating it for 2000 years – so why not try some maca root today?