Over the last several years, maca has become the new must-have superfood among health enthusiasts and the natural health community. It seems like the benefits of maca powder are never-ending as research continues to turn up new and exciting uses for this fabled root vegetable.
The Benefits of Maca Powder & How to Use it
What is Maca?
Maca root, otherwise known as Lepidium meyenii, is part of the cruciferous family just like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, so it’s no wonder this turnip-like root has some pretty impressive hormone balancing properties!
This is because cruciferous vegetables contain a compound known as DIM (diindolylmethane). Studies have shown that DIM can stimulate the breakdown of fat in the body, encourage increased lean muscle mass, modulate estrogen metabolism, and help alleviate symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, and prostate issues – and maca is jam-packed with it.
Maca root comes from the Peruvian Andes and has been used for thousands of years by the local as a source of food and as a medicinal herb.
It grows in harsh, dry conditions at elevations up to 13,000 feet yet is incredibly resilient. For reference, an alpine tree line stops at around 11-12,000 feet because conditions are not sustainable enough for trees to flourish. Maca root, on the other hand, has no trouble growing in such desolate conditions. This mirrors maca’s ability to restore the adrenals and protect the body and its nervous system from stressors.
For this reason, maca root is classified as an adaptogen – meaning it helps your body adapt and react to stress in the best way possible while also supplying your body with a host of micronutrients that have been proven to enhance sexual health, improve memory, uplift the mood, increase energy, and balance hormones.
It’s no wonder maca powder has become such a staple for those looking for balance in every aspect of their lives.
The Many Benefits of Maca Powder
I have been using maca powder for years to help nourish and support my adrenal health, keep cortisol levels balances, and to balance my wacky hormone levels. It’s definitely been a steadfast ally in my healing journey!
But those aren’t the only benefits maca root possesses, in fact, it has a whole lot more.
Maca Powder Benefits
• Aphrodisiac/ boosts libido
• Balances female hormones – can lower follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone while increasing estrogen and progesterone (this is another of my top maca powder uses!)
• Boosts both male and female fertility
• Contains rich levels of calcium, potassium, iron, iodine, fatty acids, amino acids, choline, and GABA
• Eases symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, and menopause
• Encourages a positive and stable mood – this is due to maca’s anandamide content which acts on the receptor sites that produce feelings of happiness
• Encourages weight loss
• Helps increase UV protection due to antioxidant content
• High in antioxidants – neutralizes free radicals
• Improves bone density
• Improves exercise performance
• Improves memory
• Improves sexual health in men – black maca, in particular, has been shown to increase sperm count, volume, and quality after 12 weeks
• Increases energy – reduces fatigue and burnout (especially red or black maca)
• Lowers anxiety – can lower anxiety and symptoms of depression after 6 weeks
• Lowers blood pressure
• Modulates estrogen metabolism
• Reduces altitude sickness by reducing hemoglobin in the blood
• Reduces blood sugar levels
• Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
• Reduces stress
• Support adrenal health and functionality (this is one of my favorite maca benefits and has made a huge difference for me!)
As you can see, there’s an astounding number of maca health benefits that cover a wide range of health conditions, but what about side effects?
Maca Root Side Effects
As with any medicinal, whether it’s natural or synthetic, there will always be potential side effects.
Some of the most common side effects of maca include:
• Maca can affect those on hormone-altering medications
• Maca can exacerbate high blood pressure
• Maca contains goitrogens that may interfere with those who have thyroid issues
• Maca should not be taken while pregnant
So before delving into the wondrous world of maca, make sure that you can actually take it since it can cause havoc just like any other herb.
How to Take Maca Powder
There are two main ways to take maca powder; either in a capsule or as a powder.
Whichever way you choose, just make sure you know the difference between “gelatinized” and “raw” maca powder since they are different and to follow the instructions on the package.
Gelatinized Maca Powder
“Gelatinized” does not mean that the final product contains gelatin, it is simply the name of the process used to boil the root and remove all starch content. This makes the maca much more bioavailable for the body and easier to digest. It is also more potent than raw maca powder with a few more activated nutrients.
The gelatinized version is better for those with weaker digestive systems and still has its potent hormone balancing properties.
Raw Maca Powder
The raw form of maca powder retains the full spectrum of nutrients including minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and glucosinolates. The starches and sugar content of the maca is also intact which makes it the best choice for athletes.
The raw version is also said to be better at increasing energy, reducing fatigue, and for reducing recovery time after physical activity.
I personally use the gelatinized version since I have a compromised digestive tract, but choose which one works best for you!
My favorite maca powders include:
Gaia Herbs Maca Boost in Cacao & Ginger (gelatinized)
These are great to add to oatmeal, smoothies, juices, lattes, and even bulletproof coffee. I have even added the powder to homemade energy balls for a quick and tasty way to take my adaptogenic herbs.
Have you used maca powder before? How did you like it? Please share in the comments!
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