What is Maca?
Maca (Lepidium meyenii or Lepidium peruvianum) traditionally grows in the Peruvian Andes at an incredible altitude of between 4000 and 4500 metres. It has truly earned its place in superfood history, successfully withstanding the harsh thrashing winds, intense sunlight, and extreme cold weather of such a climate for at least 3000 years. Other edible plants are not able to survive at such elevations. Related to the brassica family, maca looks a bit like a turnip and grows to somewhere between golf and tennis ball size. We consume the root of this plant which comes in red, black and yellow. It’s consumed as a powder, added to smoothies, breakfasts, drinks or in capsules (unless you live in the Andes of course, where you’d be able to harvest the fresh root).
The great health of the natives who’ve consumed this amazing plant since pre-Incan times speaks volumes about it’s health benefits. Something that can survive such an intense climate must have a truly special purpose on earth. Maca is jam-packed with truly amazing health-giving benefits.
The amazing health benefits of Maca
Here are a few of the widely known benefits of maca:
- Maca has powerful adaptogenic properties
- Maca increases energy and vitality
- Maca can relieve menopausal symptoms
- Maca is an aphrodisiac
- Maca helps to control the glucose level in blood
- Maca helps combat stress
- Maca is a powerful hormonal balancing aid
- Maca has been shown to prevent osteoporosis
- Maca supports bone health
- Maca encourages healthy thyroid function
- Maca can prevent skin damage caused by UV radiation
- Maca supports memory and brain function
- Maca enhances fertility in both men and women
- Maca can relieve pre-menstrual syndrome
- Maca supports sexual function in men and women
- Maca is excellent for adrenal support
Maca is the ultimate adaptogen
Maca is one of the few plants in the world know as an adaptogen, in other words, consuming it helps us to cope with challenging and stressful situations on physical, mental and emotional levels. It is very beneficial against anxiety, over-stimulation and the stress to which we commit our endocrine (hormone) system on a daily basis. Maca is the quintessential antidote for the turmoil that modern day living has on our health and well being.
Maca for all-round hormone support
Maca is well known for supporting hormonal health. Natives have used this herb to counteract hormonal issues (including menopausal and post menopause symptoms) for centuries.
Sexual and reproductive health and libido also spring to mind when we think of hormones – all of which are greatly supported by maca – however, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Hormones are in fact chemical messengers that tell our cells what they need to do, regulating the balance of our entire body. Hormone function includes digestion control, sleep regulation, brain development, mood, heart behaviour, blood pressure, fat metabolism, skin health, mental health, immune system, reproductive health, sexual health, bone maintenance. Hormones also manage our fight or flight response, induce calm, and control the rate at which we age. Maca’s powerful ability to balance hormones make it one incredible plant-food to include in your daily life!
It is common to hear that the native people of the Andes only eat maca once it has been boiled or roasted. They have apparently done so ever since we can trace back in history. On the other hand, the modern trend of eating raw maca does occasionally have its pitfalls. Some people who eat maca in its raw form find that it irritates the stomach. When in doubt, I say, do what the indigenous folk do – and eat the cooked version (i.e. gelatanised) – they have, after all, been doing it for aeons!