Maca Root – Adaptogen and Hormone Balancer

Maca root is a member of the cruciferous family like cauliflower and broccoli but due to its unique properties is considered a “super food”. It is grown high in the mountains of South America and mainly in the high altitude regions of Peru.

What is an adaptogen? It does not have a specific action; rather it helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions. Adaptogens boost your immune system, support managing a healthy weight, increases physical endurance and mental focus, reduces discomfort caused by poor health and encouraged a balanced mood. I will discuss adaptogens in more detail next week.

Maca is most commonly available in powdered form although it also comes in capsules. My recommendation is the powdered form since you have to take a lot of capsules to equal the benefits of the powdered form. Maca comes in red, yellow and black; raw and gelatinized forms. Raw maca preserves all enzymes and nutrients but can cause slight gas or indigestion in some people with sensitive stomachs. If you have trouble digesting starches, I would recommend gelatinized. This form is heated to remove all starch content is more concentrated. On the downside, high heat destroys enzymes and alters important nutrients.

Maca Root is best known for its positive effects on hormone balance, energy levels and as a health booster.

It helps alleviate PMS, menopausal and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) symptoms by controlling estrogen levels. Maca aids in mood improvement which often equals improvement in libido due to increased seratonin levels. Black maca has been shown to increase sperm production and red maca reduces prostate. It often helps improve sexual dysfunction and libido in both men and women.

Maca helps improve energy, memory and mood, causing you to feel more awake, energized and driven and does not give you the jitters unlike caffeine. Maintaining positive energy levels is related to lower levels of anxiety and depression.

It helps stabilize blood sugar levels and main adrenal health, which regulates mood and energy throughout the day. Maca also regulates the hypothalamus, helping the pituitary gland to proper functions, thereby balancing focus and energy.

Maca is a natural antioxidant and boosts levels of glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD) which are two major disease fighters in the body. Its ability to help prevent development of chronic diseases characterized by high levels of “bad” cholesterol and impaired glucose tolerance such as heart health, diabetes and metabolic syndrome makes maca very useful.

While maca root is generally safe for most people, some people should avoid taking it. People who are on hormone altering medications for hormone related cancers, those with high blood pressure and pregnant women should not use maca.

Wishing you all the best until next time.

Sandy O’Shea, CNP
Holistic Nutritionist

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