Maca Materia medica
LATIN: Lepidium meyenii
OTHER NAMES: ayak chichira, peruvian ginseng
PART USED: Root
HERBAL ACTION: adaptogen, immune-modulator, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue, nervine
ENERGETICS: sweet, warm, moist, yin
DISTRIBUTION: Peru, Argentina, Bolivia
KEY CONSTITUENTS: Glucosinolates, isothyocyanites, phytosterols, fatty acids esters, alkaloids and alkamides (“macamides”) (Chain et al., 2014).
PREPARATION & DOSE: 75-100 mg/ day (1-2 tsp) can be added to smoothies, hot drinks, baking and foods
This incredible Incan tuberous root vegetable (in the Brassicaceae family - the same as kale, radish, turnip etc) has been wild harvested and cultivated for at least 3000 years, groiwng at high elevations in the Andes mountains, in altitudes of 7000- 11,000 feet, making it the highest altitude growing vegetable in the world. It has been used by warriors and tribes folk alike as a strengthening tonic in baked and roasted dishes and even as a porridge. It was fermented to make a sweet drink called maca chicha and brewed alongside beers which were joyously incorporated in many ceremonies and rituals.
Maca comes in a variation of colours relating to the periderm (outer covering) of the vegetable) - there are at least eight ecotypes which have been distinguished in their colour differentiation. The colour may be a result of the varying levels of anthrocyanins (a group of pigments known to be medicinally beneficial) - there have been many studies conducted worldwide to explore the difference the maca, their colours and the differences they share.
- One study in animals showed that black maca may have benefits for spermatogenesis, memory and cognition (Gonzales et al., 2006; Rubio et al., 2007)
- Red maca showed beneficial for prastatic hyperplasia (Gonzales et al., 2005).
- Further analysis of the nutritional composition showed that red maca contained higher levels of protein and potassium, black was higher in soluble sugars, riboflavin and iron and white maca had intermediate values (Wang et al., 2007).
Records for the use of Maca date back to around 3800B.C. when Peruvian Indian cultures used it nutritionally as well as medically.
Centuries later in 1549 A.D, Captain de Soto a Spanish explorer received Maca as a gift from the Peruvians as a gift for his knowledge of animal husbandry, it then began to receive further attention and burst forth as a ground breaking medicine to be sought out and revered. Maca became such a prized resource that it was often used as a means of exchange for goods and in some Incan legends it is said that they would offer it to the gods in service to their spirits in prayer for success in battle and to bring blessings.
The Quechua Indians of Peru consider this medicine as a revered tonic to promote mental acuity, physical endurance as well as stamina and vitality.
According to folk belief Maca has been used medicinally to manage stress levels, enhance fertility and have a positive effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, therefore being able to support and balance the adrenals, thyroid and pancreas.
It was mainly used as an aphrodisiac in both humans and domesticated animals in order to enhance their fertility and sex drive - the reason for this application being so well known is that in the high altitudes they were inhabiting the lack of oxygen often resulted in a lower sex drive, and so (naturally) the perfect ally appeared right at their feet. Not only is it rich in medical activity it is also a phenomenally abundant source of essential amino acids (over 20), iron, magnesium, sterols and iodine, further allowing for it to be supportive to adrenal and hormonal health and wellbeing - the perfect endocrine ally.
A NOTE ON TAXONOMY:
In 2008 the Peruvian government sought to clarify the confusion between the two scientific names used for Maca - Lepidium meyenii and Lepidium peruvianum - it was concluded that L. peruvianum would be used to name that cultivated maca gown in Peru only while L. meyenii would be used for a more wild cultivated Maca.
HOW TO KNOW MACA IS FOR YOU:
- I want to get my sexual/ creative energy invigorated
- I want to bring balance to my hormonal wellbeing
- I want to have an ally in supporting my mood, anxiety or depression
- I want to increase my vitality
- I want to restore my nourishment
First and foremost Maca is an adaptogen (read more about what that means here), further adding to overall wellbeing and promoting mental health.
HERE are some of the best known uses:
- Increases the balance and production of testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone
- Supports healing from and prevention against Adrenal exhaustion
- Aids in treatment of chronic fatigue
- Supports healthy menstruation
- Prevents and treats erectile dysfunction
- Increases mobility and quantity if semen and sperm
- Supports fertility
- Aids in treatment of menopause - hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings
- Can aid in osteoporosis
- Has shown to aid in decreasing cravings in recovering alcoholics
- Treats vaginal dryness
- Aids in preventing memory loss
- Promotes longevity
- treats rheumatism
- has shown beneficial in treating and in the management of stomach cancer
- Alleviates SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction
You can find Maca in our armamentarium in powder form, in our 7 Ginsengs blend as well as in our menopause blend
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