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Maca, Lepidium meyenii, is a tuberous root that grows in the high elevations of the Andes mountain range. Maca is known as an adaptogen, broadly contributing to overall wellbeing and a healthy mood. According to folk belief Maca is an aphrodisiac, enhancing sexual drive in humans and domestic animals which tends to be reduced at higher altitudes.
Maca is in the Brassicaceae family, and shares many of the beneficial constituents of other members in this plant family such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, rutabagas, turnips, radishes, and many more. Maca grows both wild and in cultivation in a naturally occurring variety of colors. Variation of color relates to the periderm or the outer covering, however the majority of biomass found in the core and main mass of all Maca looks the same. Traditionally, all colors of Maca were harvested and used together by the Andean people.
In 2008, the Peruvian government decided to clarify the confusion between the two scientific names that were used for Maca, Lepidium meyenii and Lepidium peruvianum. It was decided that L. peruvianum would be used to describe the cultivated type of maca grown in Peru only, and L. meyenii would be used to describe a more wild type of Maca. Cultivation does not change the lineage of genetics, which taxonomy is based off of.
Therefore, L. peruvianum is not currently considered an accepted scientific name for Maca, nor is it considered a synonym of L. meyenii..Maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in this area for at least 3000 years. Maca is a relative of the radish and has an odor similar to butterscotch. Its root is used to make medicine.
People take maca by mouth for "tired blood" (anemia), improving fertility, sexual dysfunction, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
In foods, maca is eaten baked or roasted, prepared as a soup, and used for making a fermented drink called maca chicha.
In agriculture, it is used to increase fertility in livestock.
How does it work?
Maca root contains many chemicals, including fatty acids and amino acids. However, there isn't enough information to know how maca might work.
Possible side effects include:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking maca if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
- Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Extracts from maca might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use these extracts.
As always make sure you are using organic herbs as pesticides are toxic and always take normal doses, excessive amounts of anything is not good for you.
We are not doctors, lawyers, accountants or your mom. We give out free smiles and the occasional unsolicited advice. That being said; if you are pregnant, nursing or concerned about your health, call your mom. Or even better, consult a doctors before consuming; particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.