For thousands of years, people in the Andes regions of Peru and Bolivia have used maca as food and medicine. The root, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii and sometimes called Peruvian Ginseng, grows wildly in harsh conditions, making it a food staple for the people of Central Peru. Maca supports the people to adapt, reproduce, and thrive in harsh climates, rugged terrain, intense winds, and strong sunlight. Later, you’ll learn how its growing conditions tell us a lot about its benefits. In this article, we’re diving into the top 8 maca root benefits for hormones, mood, energy, and more. If you feel like you’re struggling in any of those areas, this article is for you.
The maca plant is part of the brassica (mustard) family and is a cruciferous vegetable, just like broccoli and cauliflower!
This nutrient-dense root is packed with vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, zinc, fatty acids, and amino acids. As you can see, some of the most critical nutrients for hormone balance and hormone imbalance symptoms are in maca!
8 HEALTH & HORMONE BALANCING BENEFITS OF MACA Powder and Root
HELPS REDUCE MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS
Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, nervousness, depression, and anxiety-the list of dreadful hormonal symptoms of menopause goes on. If you’re in perimenopause or menopause, maca root powder may be your new BFF. This root offers a natural solution to common menopausal symptoms by increasing the body’s estrogen, progesterone, and luteinizing hormone production. It can also suppress the production of cortisol (our stress hormone) and boost estradiol, which is often administered to women in menopause!
One of the theories surrounding maca’s affinity for helping with menopausal symptoms is its support of the HPA(hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) axis. You can think of your HPA axis as your body’s stress system-and when that system is out of whack, well, every hormonal system feels the effects. A maca supplement may be able to help:
- One study looked at 29 post-menopausal women and found that 3.3 grams of maca per day for 6 weeks helped reduce symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure compared to the placebo group.
- Another study suggests that maca is also helpful for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety and boosting libido in post-menopausal women.
You can read more about the dysregulation of the HPA axis as the root of adrenal fatigue and most hormonal balances with our best tips, here.
UPLIFT MOOD & BRAIN HEALTH
Maca is a potent adaptogen, which means it can help us adapt to physical, emotional, environmental, and chemical stressors. (Remind you of the way the plant grows in harsh conditions?! Nature is so cool.)
Stress has a profound impact on the health of our brain and hormones, especially the adrenals. As an adaptogen, maca is incredible at helping to decrease stress and support a healthy mood and hormone levels, as we saw in the studies above.
Rodent studies have also shown maca to improve motor coordination and cognitive function and the ability to slow age-related cognitive decline. While more scientific studies surrounding humans are needed, anecdotal evidence still stands strong (especially hormone expert Dr. Sara Gottfried’s tried and true maca smoothie).
SUPPORT STAMINA AND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE
In ancient times, warriors used maca to boost strength and stamina before battle. Maca was so valuable that royalty used it as a currency!
Maca as an effective, all-natural pre-work isn’t just ancient folklore-the root is still used today to enhance vitality and forgo that all-too-common afternoon slump.
Research on male cyclists showed that after 2 weeks on maca supplements, their speed improved, as well as their sexual desire (more on this later).
One study looked at 175 people living at either high or low altitudes who took 3 grams of black maca per day. After 12 weeks, the participants who consumed maca reported higher energy levels and a better overall mood than those in the placebo group.
One of the main complaints surrounding hormone imbalances is no sex drive. It’s understood that as we age, our sex drive goes down (men can also experience erectile dysfunction with age). But for it to be ultimately MIA is a whole other story: a hormone problem story.
One of the hallmark signs of adrenal fatigue is low libido, and if you are struggling in that department, chances are you wouldn’t pass up a sure-fire natural remedy. Organic maca has gained a lot of popularity in recent years for its aphrodisiac qualities.
- One study looked at 45 women experiencing sexual dysfunction due to antidepressants and found that after 12 weeks of taking maca, they saw significant improvement in sexual function and libido.
- A review looked at four studies and concluded that taking maca improved sexual desire after at least 6 weeks.
For other information on low libido, you can listen to our podcast episode 5 Ways to Improve Libido or check out these articles on our blog:
LOWER BLOOD SUGAR
Many people who struggle with hormone imbalances, acne, menstrual cycle troubles, thyroid issues, and adrenal fatigue struggle with blood sugar regulation and blood pressure issues. For example, when you suffer from adrenal fatigue, you must keep blood sugar regular to not further stress your endocrine system.
Eating 3-4 balanced and consistent meals per day is a simple way to do that. A balanced meal consists of vegetables, protein, and healthy fat like avocado, coconut, chia seeds, etc. Healthy fats help keep blood sugar stable. Adding maca into your smoothie with a bit of avocado and cinnamon is a delicious way to support blood sugars and pressure for healthy hormone function.
You might have guessed that another health benefit of maca is adrenal nourishment. Any adaptogen will offer incredible support for the endocrine system. If you struggle with chronic stress, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, or moodiness, chances are your adrenals need some support. Because maca can tone and nourish the HPA axis, it, in turn, gets to the root cause of adrenal fatigue and starts the healing there. With maca, you’ll be able to stress less over the little things and have more energy to do the things you love-all thanks to its stellar hormone support.
Craving salt and salty foods? How about overly processed foods? You guessed it-hormone imbalance and potentially adrenal fatigue. When our body craves something, it means we are missing something else, most likely nutrients and protein! Maca has got both of those for you!
Maca is high in fibers like cellulose and lignins, which help improve gut health, digestion and reduce hunger. Most powders also contain around 11% to 18% protein, and we all know how important protein is to curb cravings. Out of the 9 essential amino acids our bodies need, maca contains 7 of them (and many others that are non-essential). Consistent use of maca can help nourish your body and hormonal systems to kick cravings to the curb.
As a cruciferous vegetable, maca contains sulfurs which help your body produce a master antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione helps improve liver function for adequate detoxification. Your liver is in charge of flushing out excess hormones like estrogen. Too much estrogen in the body can lead to various hormonal issues, including PCOS, PMS, infertility, migraines, acne, and more. Getting your maca in will help support the liver to flush out excess hormones to keep your body in balance.
HOW TO TAKE MACA TO BALANCE HORMONES
Before using maca powder, it’s essential to make sure you buy it from a quality source. Maca root is generally considered safe and a gentle herb, but we always want to prioritize quality for food products. You can add it to smoothies, yogurt, oats, and teas. Dr. Jones and I suggest not adding it to coffee as maca can already be stimulating on its own.
Dr. Jones and I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon or one capsule to see how your body likes it. You can work up to 1 tablespoon. It will affect each unique body differently, so tune in to your body. The maximum recommended amount is 1500-2000 mg daily.
I hope this article helped you understand the health benefits of maca and how to take maca to balance hormones. If you are struggling with hormonal balance, know that you are not alone. Taking control of your healing journey with natural remedies will empower you to be your very best self. And that’s our mission here at Elevays.
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