Ingredient Spotlight: Maca
What is maca?
Maca is a root vegetable native to Peru, and is similar to a radish, turnip or parsnip. Its roots and hypocotyls can be either cream-yellow, half purple, purple, red, blue or black, with yellow and black being the most common. It has a nutty, sweet taste and is often dried and ground or made into tea. For centuries, Peruvians have been consuming maca for its many magical properties, including energy, focus, and stamina.
More about maca
Maca's botanical name is Lepidium meyenii, Depending on where you are in the world, you may also hear it referred to differently: Ayak Chichira, Ayuk Willku, Ginseng Andin, Ginseng Péruvien, Peruvian Ginseng, Lepidium meyenii, Lepidium peruvianum, Maca Maca, Macca, Maca Péruvien, Maino, Maka, Peruvian Ginseng, Peruvian Maca or something else along those lines.
It is native to the high Andes mountains of Peru in South America. In fact, until the lake 1980s, it was found exclusively in one place, the Meseta de Bombon plateau, near Lake Junin in Peru. It had maintained a relatively low profile outside of Peru for centuries, until recently. It is now cultivated more widely and there is considerably greater awareness around this magical root.
What does maca do for libido?
One of the first things to know about maca is that it is known for being a libido enhancer. It is generally energizing (after all: it's mostly a carbohydrate, like any root vegetable) but its effects go well beyond your typical turnip. No one knows exactly what the pathways are for improving libido through maca, but historically it has been used by Peruvians to increase libido in men and women, as well as stamina, blood flow and even fertility.
Maca for sex
Maca has been used for centuries in both humans and animals to improve sexual function and fertility. In July 2016, a systematic review was conducted to study its effectiveness on improving semen quality specifically, and it studied at three randomized clinical trials that had already been conducted in the space. One trial showed favorable effects on sperm mobility in infertile men. The other two demonstrated positive effects on several semen quality parameters in healthy men. The systematic review concluded that there is indeed suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of maca in improving semen quality.
Improvement in sperm quality is just one such potential benefit of maca's many magical properties. While many more studies are needed to truly understand this relatively obscure root, there is a lot of potential for maca as a natural fertility booster for men and women, to increase sex drive in men and women, and to improve sexual function naturally without drugs.
So to sum it all up:
Maca is a root vegetable native to Peru
The most common uses for maca are for energy and libido
Maca is almost always cooked before consumption, and often dried and made into teas
Supplements that contain maca can possibly be beneficial for your energy levels, libido and fertility