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In the high plateaus of the Andes mountains in central Peru, a plant that is a relative of the radish with an odor similar to butterscotch grows abundantly. Similar to starchy plants, maca contains carbohydrates, protein, fats, dietary fiber, and is a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium. This plant has been a valuable vegetable crop in the Andean diet for thousands of years, and its root is used to make medicine that is especially beneficial for women’s health (via WedMD)

>> Read more: Meet Maca: An Ancient Secret to Balancing Hormones 

Photo Credit: Veg Library

Photo Credit: Veg Kitchen

Maca and sexual health: One of the most popular topics regarding maca that many are curious about is the possible connection to libido enhancement and sexual enhancement. As a potential aphrodisiac, maca is loaded with minerals like zinc, iodine, and essential fatty acids that can help balance sex hormones and improve mood — two factors that support healthy arousal. Aside from a study that shows that maca can help improve sexual satisfaction for women suffering from sexual dysfunction (as a result of taking antidepressants), much of the evidence surrounding this fascinating relationship is anecdotal rather than experimental (via Global Healing Center)

>> Read more: How to Boost Your Libido

Maca and menopause: Maca root has been used as a hormone balancer due to its high nutrient density and beneficial phytochemical content. Researchers who have evaluated this herb have found that women taking maca enjoyed a reduction in many common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disruptions, night sweats, and depression (via Global Healing Center)

Maca and mood: Research shows that naturally fatty acid found in foods is necessary for supporting mood and overall brain health. Positive effects on the brain from consuming the fatty acid found in maca has offered researchers hope for finding a natural alternative to cognitive-enhancement drugs, and can even help to alleviate symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and stress (via Global Healing Center)

Aside from menopausal relief, sexual arousal and mood, maca is also used for:

  • Fertility 
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory and fertility enhancement
  • Weak bones (Osteoporosis)
  • Depression
  • Stomach cancer
  • Leukemia
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Immune system boost (via WebMD)

Maca is available in capsule, pill and powder form, and is available at most nutrition stores. The dosage for taking maca can range anywhere from 500 milligrams to 2,000 milligrams a day, but is not recommended to exceed 500 milligrams daily if long-term use is anticipated. There is not enough evidence to show whether or not maca is safe to take while pregnant or breast-feeding, so avoid taking it just in case.

As with most supplements, talk to your doctor before making this a part of your daily intake.