Maca Powder and its Benefits
Maca, or Lepidium meyenii, is a plant grown predominantly in South America for the consumption of its root. It’s used both as a starchy staple food and for medicinal purposes. In recent years, maca powder has entered the global health food market and makes claims to being a good health supplement and enhancing reproductive health, claims that have been partially proven by the scientific community.
What does maca contain?
Maca is predominantly a starchy carbohydrate, with small amounts of protein, fibre and fats. Maca contains dietary minerals like calcium, potassium, a little sodium, and trace elements such as iron, iodine, copper, manganese, selenium, magnesium and zinc . Alongside around 19 different amino acids and a couple of fatty acids, maca root also has several type of alkamides and polysaccharides .
Maca is traditionally consumed by cooking the dry powder, but the powder can also be used as a dietary supplement.
Maca Powder benefits and the science behind it
1) Maca root helps cure infertility
The scientific community has taken this claim rather seriously and is in the process of conducting studies to test its veracity. One study published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology in 2005 found that yellow maca extract increased the litter size in a controlled experimental group of female mice . This was the first study too confirm that maca may enhance fertility, but this has yet to be proven with human beings.
2) Maca helps with hormone regulation
This is perhaps the most substantiated claim about maca that exists today. Several studies have studied menopausal women to see whether the administration of maca extract can help regulate hormones and alleviate discomfort.
One study published in the International Journal of Biomedical Science in 2005 concluded that maca root powder acted as a toner for hormonal processes . It helped decrease FSH and increased LH, stimulated production of ovarian hormones E2 and PG. This regulation significantly decreased menopausal discomfort.
Another study also found that maca powder balanced hormone levels, relived symptoms like hot flashes and night sweating, and mirrored the results of some hormone therapies, which indicate that maca root can be used by menopausal women as an alternative to hormone therapy to alleviate the symptoms of menopause .