Maca, sometimes known as Peruvian ginseng, is a plant that grows in the Andean mountains of Peru.
Traditionally, the Andean people used maca as a food source and herbal medicine, but it has gained popularity as a dietary supplement in recent years.
Most commonly sold as dried and ground maca root powder, this herb is a popular natural remedy for various health concerns, including hormonal imbalances and low energy levels.
Additionally, many of maca’s purported benefits are especially useful for women, as it may promote healthy menstrual cycles and hormonal balance in females. In this article, we’ll explore the health benefits of maca root for women and discuss the best ways to take maca supplements to enjoy their many health benefits.
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Maca is an adaptogenic herb containing a wide variety of natural compounds believed to benefit the body by affecting your nervous, immune and hormonal systems. Maca root powder contains fiber, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and various bioactive compounds like glucosinolates, macamides and alkaloids, which are thought to cause its medicinal benefits.
Scientific studies have found that supplementing with maca has many potential health benefits, including:
Maca root powder is widely believed to give users a caffeine-free energy boost, as it contains several vitamins and minerals – including iron, vitamin C and B vitamins – essential for energy production. Maca may also help reduce fatigue and increase stamina by supporting the body’s stress response, though more research is needed to understand how it supports energy production.
Maca is often claimed to have aphrodisiac properties, and multiple studies show that supplementing with maca helps treat sexual dysfunction and low libido. Furthermore, one study found that maca supplements helped reverse sexual dysfunction caused by SSRIs (the most commonly prescribed antidepressants), so maca could help support sexual health.
Maca root powder has adaptogenic benefits, meaning it can help your body respond to the biological aspects of stress, such as raised levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’. Studies show that maca supports the products of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which regulate mood, and its antioxidant contents may help protect the brain from oxidative stress, supporting long-term brain health.
Maca root is a good source of calcium and contains polyunsaturated fatty acids that contribute to healthy bones and improve bone density. Therefore, maca root supplements are especially beneficial for people with a history of bone disease and those simply looking to protect their bone health.
Maca is available in many forms, but the most common is maca root powder, which is often sold as a pure powder or packaged into capsules. Based on the available research on maca root supplements, we recommend taking them daily to enjoy the health benefits, as it does not appear to provide long-lasting effects.
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While there is no officially recommended dosage (because maca is regulated as a dietary supplement), most studies on its effects used high doses of 1-3g daily. However, you don’t have to take this amount all in one go, so why not mix maca into a drink (like herbal tea or a smoothie) and drink it throughout the day?
Maca root has many noted health benefits and is classed as an adaptogen as it helps your body adapt to stress and manage your hormonal balance. Subsequently, maca root powder has many specific benefits for women and may help manage symptoms of menopause, among other things.
While maca root powder has many health benefits for men and women alike, it has some specific benefits for female quality of life, such as:
Maca root powder may help balance estrogen levels during perimenopause and reduce symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disruption and mood swings. Studies show that supplementing with maca helps reduce discomfort from perimenopausal symptoms by up to 87%, likely due to the adaptogenic nature of maca root.
RELATED: Many menopause symptoms are caused by changes to hormone levels. Read our blog on the best supplements for hormone balance to learn about natural supplements that help regulate your hormonal balance.
Because women are more likely to develop osteoporosis (loss of bone density) as they age, supplements that contribute to bone health are strongly recommended. Studies show that maca supplements improve markers of bone density, likely due to their calcium and polyunsaturated fatty acids content.
While many factors can affect fertility – from stress to nutritional deficits – maca root powder helps increase serum luteinizing hormone in the pituitary gland, which supports female fertility. Additionally, maca supplements have many holistic health benefits, such as hormonal balance and improved mood, that help boost your libido and fertility.
As maca root supplements are regulated as dietary supplements, there are no official guidelines on recommended dosages or timings, so you should do what works for you. Many people use maca root powder for its purported energy-boosting effects and take it in the morning, as you might drink a cup of coffee with breakfast.
Alternatively, if you’re taking maca for its effects on libido and fertility, taking it before bed may give you more chances to make the most of those benefits, as it were. Ultimately, the best time to take maca depends on your personal preferences. Still, starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it to reduce the risk of adverse reactions is generally advised.
Maca root powder is generally considered safe (it’s widely consumed as a food by people in the Andes mountain range), but some people may experience mild side effects. Supplementing with maca has been known to cause side effects such as digestive upset, headaches and insomnia, but they are generally rare.
However, while known side effects are rare and generally mild, more studies are needed to determine the safety of long-term maca use. Maca root powder may act like estrogen, so you should consult your doctor before taking maca supplements if you have a health condition that this could worsen, such as:
Maca root (also known as Peruvian ginseng) has been used as a food and herbal medicine for centuries by the Andean people. While it has many health benefits and may especially benefit women, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects and safety.
All in all, maca root powder is a versatile herbal supplement that offers a variety of health benefits for women, from balancing hormones to enhancing energy and mood. But as with any herbal supplement, you should speak with a healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regimen, as it may affect your hormonal balance.