Peruvian ginseng or maca (Lepidium meyenii), dried root on wooden table

Maca is a herb native of the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru for centuries. Maca is a member of the cruciferous family of plants. The plant is considered a member of the species Lepidium meyenii; it’s a distant relative of the tuberous root vegetable radish. The Maca plant produces leaves that grow near the ground and the plant produces a little, homogenous blossom.

Maca root

Maca grows at an altitude of roughly 11,000-15,000 feet which makes it likely the maximum altitude food-herb crop on the planet. The root grows well only in cold climates with relatively poor agricultural lands, areas where few other plants can be grown. Although mostly cream in colour, there are also black and red Maca varieties, the Peruvian cream colour being the sweetest in flavor and size. Archeological data has shown that Maca was domesticated over 2,000 years ago by the predecessors of the Incan individuals. Many indigenous inhabitants of the Andes, still see Maca as a valuable commodity.


The Maca root has been used over the ages because of its herbal and nutritional qualities. Once chosen, the Maca root was traditionally dried, then powdered. Once powdered it was eaten or put into sacs and exchanged for other commodities. Maca was used as money by ancient native peoples.

For centuries, Maca has been known as a powerful strength and libido enhancer. Maca is a powerful adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s cardiovascular, nervous, musculature and lymphatic systems.

Maca has the power to supply more energy if it’s required, but without over- stimulating the body’s systems. Adaptogens also boost immunity and increase the body’s overall energy; this is the reason why the Maca root is so well received in the past and present.

Did You Know?

Maca alkaloids act on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis and the adrenals. She’s theorized that by triggering these adrenal glands, Maca can increase energy, vitality and endurance. Additionally Maca improves memory, and blood oxygenation. Maca’s actions on sexual function are better researched than its effects on mood and memory.

One study demonstrated that Maca increased fertility in rats. I look forward to see more research in this area in the near future but for now I believe that the high density of the super food is what supplies the advancement in this field.

Nutritional Benefits

Maca is dense in nutrition, supplying high quality minerals and vitamins. Dried Maca powder is often available and comprises 60% carbs, 9% fiber, and 10 percent higher or protein. It’s a high lipid profile to get a root plant: linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid are the primary fatty acids.

Maca is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, and iron, and contains trace minerals, including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, manganese and silica, as well as vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Maca contains almost 20 amino acids and seven essential amino acids. Maca is also a rich source of sterols, and is high in fiber and protein subsequently other root vegetables.

Side Effects?

Are there any side effects or interactions to overeating Maca? In toxicity studies conducted in the U.S., Maca showed absolutely no toxicity and no adverse pharmacological effects. Maca should be utilised in balance and moderation along with other organic foods. Maca comes in the form of a dried powder, and it has gained fame in the US and in Europe.

It’s ideal to consume Maca within a natural root powder form. You can use a tablespoon or more of the powder in any pure beverage or food like teas, smoothies, yogurts, puddings, broths, juices, coffees, homemade snacks, oatmeal, muffins, biscuits, breads. Maca provides nice taste to pies and pie crusts. Additionally it is a excellent emulsifier in foods bringing texture, richness and a very wonderful consistency.

Maca is a powerful super-food and must be consumed in moderation. Up to 2 tablespoons a day is an excellent start and, like each herb, I suggest taking a rest from it for a week following a month of ingestion.