What is Maca?
Maca is an herbaceous plant, that is actually a cruciferous vegetable (a relative of broccoli, kale, and collards), and it is native to the high Andean Mountains of Bolivia and Peru. The root of the maca plant is what is used as a food-medicine and it has a long history of being deemed a “superfood” that was prized throughout the Incan empire for its rich sources of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and proteins, and most especially for it’s adaptogenic-like qualities. (Adaptogen= a substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes). The adaptogen qualities enable maca to nourish and balance the body's endocrine system which is the system of glands that secrete hormones and other factors to help cope with stressors of the body. Maca also helps the body to energize naturally, without giving jitters and crashes of caffeine, and it can aid in reproductive function, helping to balance hormones and increase fertility.
There have been studies done in the recent years women age 41-50 y/o who were determined to be in peri-menopausal or menopausal stages in their life (when a woman is in the beginning stages of menopause i.e. periods may be very few and far between, and she also may be experiencing symptoms associated w/ menopause ) were given maca to treat their symptoms. The symptoms were common of women who experience menopause related hormonal imbalances i.e. frequent of hot flushes, night sweating, interrupted sleep, nervousness, depression and heart palpitations.
Maca was shown to be effective at alleviating these negative physiological and psychological symptoms in such cases.
The therapeutic affect is most likely due to maca’s ability to help the body balance out hormones that can be in flux during times of transition in a woman’s body like menopause. Most specifically maca acts on hormones like estrogen (estradiol/E2) , progesterone, and ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), estrodiol being the hormone that can decrease dramatically (leading to many of these symptoms) when menopause takes place is increased when maca is consumed overtime is it corrects the cause of why these symptoms are happening in the first place.
Maca is however not limited to healing women of menopausal imbalances. It can address hormonal issues in menstruating women as well! Because it acts as a hormone balancer it can also heal issues such as dysmenorrhea (painful periods), heavy bleeding, oligomenorrhea (infrequent menstruation), PCOS, and infertility issues; also other conditions caused by hormonal imbalances i.e. migraines, acne, fibrocystic breast tissue, just to name a few.
Don’t think that maca is limited just to women! Studies have also shown that maca has been traditionally used to heal men from erectile dysfunction, impotence, and loss of stamina. Also maca when consumed by men throughout their life acts as a fortifier, enhancing and maintaining strength, endurance and virility of the body well into the elder years.
For both men and women consuming maca overtime has a significant effect on reproductive health. Increasing fertility through supporting spermatogenesis and oogenesis (sperm and ovum production), as well as increasing the likelihood of fertilization of an egg within the womb. In women maca supports hormonal secretion of estrogen, lutenizing hormone, and follicle stimulating hormone, which are all needed to prepare the uterus for pregnancy making it a great pre-conception herb to tonify the uterus. What’s more maca is widely known for having quite a positive effect on libido, increasing it in both men and women, it is said that as an indigenous food of the people of the Andes it has enabled people to be quite virile into their old age.
In addition to these benefits as maca is consumed overtime it has been shown to support the body in reducing blood pressure, getting to a healthy body weight, reducing triglycerides and Cholesterol levels!
So if all of that dosen’t convince you that maca is a great herb then I don’t know what else to tell you!
How to take Maca?
To take maca you can find it in many forms i.e. capsule, powder, there are different health foods that contain maca. You can put it in your smoothies, coffee, desserts, (it has a butterscotch or toffee like flavor so when sweetened in a dessert or smoothie, baked goods you name it and maca will make it taste great)!
However you get your maca in make sure to be consistent. Because it is an adaptogen, an herb that balances out body processes and it a food this is made to be consumed daily in order for you to see optimal results!
Below is a yummy recipe to help you incorporate maca into your diet! Enjoy and stay healthy my friends!
~ Dr. Adiro
10-12 medjool dates (pits removed)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
2 TBS maca powder
1 TBS chia seeds
½ tsp salt
2-3 TBS water
· In a food processor, grind up the pistchios, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sea salt and maca powder to a coarse consistency
· Add in the dates and continue to pulse.
· Add in the water 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough starts to form.
· Roll dough into balls and place on a parchment paper lined cooking sheet and place in the fridge to firm up for a few minutes.
· You can garnish these truffles but rollingthem in nuts, seeds, or powdered herbs.
· Serve and Enjoy J
Dr. Afivi Adiro is a Naturopathic physician specializing in diet, nutrition and botanical medicine. With diet being especially foundational to Dr. Adiro, she believes if the diet is not in order and supportive to the body then most other therapies that are tried will not work towards healing.