Maca: properties and characteristics

Maca: properties and characteristics


the spirit of survival

Characteristics of the plant

The plant known as maca is actually the Lepidium meyenii(synonymous Peruvian Lepidium) belonging to the family of Brassicaceae. It is a tuber that grows only in the Andes of South America above 2500 and 5000 m in impossible conditions: very strong winds, sub-zero temperatures and very intense sunlight, very poor and rocky soils.

It is a small plant producing small greyish flowers typical of the family to which it belongs (Brassicaceae).

The part used for human consumption is the root (tuber), with a rounded shape, with a diameter of about 8 cm.

It is known for its high nutritional power and its tuber is used both fresh and cooked, while the flour is used for the preparation of wines and desserts. peruvian ginseng, although it is not from the same family as the common ginseng we know. It is in fact a complete food, which maintains its nutritional characteristics unaltered for years, even when dried.

The maca is a plant that despite being an annual in cultivation behaves as a biennial with very distinct periods: a vegetative phase that lasts about 9 months during which it produces the tuber; a reproductive phase which lasts about 5 months which is dedicated to the production of seeds and a phase of vegetative rest which lasts 2 - 2.5 months.

History and diffusion

It was already used 2,000 years ago by the Incas as demonstrated by the numerous archaeological finds from which it was considered divine and destined to nourish the nobles and isoldiers for its richness in vitamins, proteins, sugars and mineral salts.

The maca plant is widespread in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. For the Andean people and in particular for the Peruvians, it is a very important product in their diet and is grown and marketed normally.

Parts used and products obtained

From its root a flour is obtained which is used to make soups and alcoholic drinks while the leaves are used to make tea. The tuber can be used both fresh and dry, in fact it can last several years while maintaining its properties unaltered.


Today maca is spreading all over the world especially in America where it is sold in particular to increase fertility, as a hormonal balancer, as an aphrodisiac and is a valid aid against respiratory tract diseases, rheumatic arthrosis and as an anti-aging agent. It is also normally used by athletes as it increases muscle endurance.


In the use of the Andean peoples, maca is used to treat anemia, tuberculosis, problems related to menstruation, stomach cancer, infertility, impotence in humans and libido in general and to increase memory.

The beneficial effects can be explained as it has a very high concentration of essential proteins and free amino acids (phenylalanine, tyrosine, histidine and arginine), minerals, carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins (B1, B2, C), in short, it is an extraordinary source of essential nutrients for the body and no side effects are known even if there can always be an individual intolerance so it is always advisable to consult with your family doctor.

Maca: properties, uses and contraindications

Maca is a plant native to Peru that has tons of health benefits. Everything you need to know about "Peruvian ginseng".

By Sonia Tarantola

Maca is the abbreviation for Lepidium Meyenii, a perennial plant with a very ancient and interesting history. It is currently appreciated for its ability to determine a state of general psycho-physical well-being, which makes it a ideal supplement in modern nutrition, so much so that it deserves the name of Peruvian ginseng. Scientific studies confirm that the maca it is truly a complete food, and when dried it is able to maintain its nutritional characteristics unaltered for years.

Maca is a plant native to Peru that has tons of health benefits

What is it, and where is it born?

First, let's try to understand what it is and how it presents itself, both aesthetically and geographically. First of all, you should know that it takes the scientific name of Lepidium meyenii, or Peruvian Lepidium, and is a plant that is part of the Brassicaceae family. This plant grows at high altitudes, and especially between 3,500 and 4,500 meters, in the Andes. This therefore makes it clear that the geographical areas in which maca grows most often are Peru and Bolivia.

It has always been considered as a food plant, for sure, but also as a medicinal plant now with a long tradition. Its root, in fact, is edible but still, from a medicinal point of view, here is that its uses also and also move towards the improvement of the mental faculties and the physical faculties of the person, together also and also with the improvement against the fertility problems, and at the same time also and also in favor of an improvement in sexual performance. And it is perhaps precisely as a tonic in favor of sexual performance that it has more recently found great success.

Moreover, from a historical point of view, we have news of this plant for a long and distant time. In particular, the friar Antonio de Espinoza tells in one of his writings dating back to 1598, as a plant commonly used by the local population. Other botanists later also carried out an evaluation, reconnaissance and reconstruction of the history and nature of maca, thanks to some Spanish botanists who took into consideration every single important aspect of maca.

Properties and benefits of Peruvian Maca

Let's recap together what are its properties and the benefits it brings to our body:

  • Antistress
  • Toned
  • Energizing
  • Natural supplement
  • Antioxidant
  • Allied with memory

In fact, this root with numerous properties is thought to even have strengthening properties of fertility, especially in the male one.

An Andean custom is that which sees the maca bulbs used in the form of dye for treatment against infertility.

Maca: properties and characteristics

It is a perennial plant, belonging to the Brassicaceae family. It grows spontaneously in Peru, at 3000-4000m above sea level, resisting the extreme climatic conditions of the Andean regions, where it has been cultivated since 1600 BC. C.

The part of the plant used is the tuberous root, which due to its high nutritional value has always played a fundamental role in the nutrition of indigenous peoples and their animals. The extraordinary nutritional and medicinal virtues of Maca were already known to the Incas, who considered it a gift from the gods, reserved for warriors and priests. With the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, Maca was also known in Europe, where it was appreciated above all for its positive effect on fertility and for its aphrodisiac properties. Starting from the 1960s-1970s, the Maca root began to be used in medicine with a more rigorous scientific rationale, and is currently appreciated for its ability to determine a general state of psycho-physical well-being, which makes it an ideal supplement. in modern nutrition, so much so that it deserves the name of Peruvian Ginseng.

The epidium meyenii:

Perennial plant of Peruvian origin, belonging to the Brassicacae family. The part used is the root: eaten fresh or dried, it has been known since the times of the Incas especially for its energetic and aphrodisiac qualities, so much so that it is also known as Peruvian Ginseng.

Nutritional properties:

  • high intake of nutrients and vitamins
  • Tonic and memory strengthening properties

Nutriceutical properties:

  • Immunostimulant
  • Increase bone density
  • Anabolic
  • Anti aging
  • Regulates the hypothalamus-pituitary system
  • Aphrodisiac

Phytochemical constituents:

  • Alkaloids, Beta-ecdysone, p-methoxy-benzyl isothiocyanate
  • Vitamins (A, B1, B2, B12, C, D, E) and flavonoids
  • Amino acids and essential fatty acids
  • Minerals (Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Iodine, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc)
  • Sterols (Stigmasterol, sitosterol, campesterol, ergosterol)

I ndications:

  • Psycho-physical stress (depressive states, nutrition of athletes, students, the elderly, etc.)
  • Fractures, decrease in bone density
  • Adjuvant in the treatment of some types of cancer
  • Adjuvant in the treatment of anemia
  • Male impotence treatment
  • Treatment of ovarian dysfunction, including menopause
  • Treatment of male and female infertility

Forms of use:

The Maca tuber can be consumed fresh, as a food or in characteristic drinks, the dried root can be rehydrated, used directly as a powder, or used for the preparation of tablets, capsules, tablets.

Recommended use dosages:

Suggested dosage: 5 to 20g of powder per day, in any form or 250-350mg of dry extract.

Toxicity and side effects:

No toxicity data are reported, but it must be taken under strict medical supervision in case of prostate, breast, or any other type of hormonal cancer. The high iodine content can stimulate thyroid function, which is why its intake is not recommended for those suffering from hyperthyroidism.

Maca: properties, benefits and most common uses

Maca is a root that provides great benefits to our body: for example, diluted in any vegetable milk or fruit juice, it gives a surplus of energy

What is maca?

The maca (Lepidium meyenii) it is a Peruvian cruciferous tree that grows luxuriantly on the rugged slopes of the Andes, between 3000 and 4000 meters, in particular in the Puna, the frozen desert located at 4000 meters above sea level on the Andean mountain range. The Andean mountaineers, who have always consumed its tuber as an anti-stress and anti-fatigue food, are able to withstand heavy workloads in prohibitive conditions because the richness in iron and vitamin B12 of maca makes it precious at high altitudes, where the blood is forced to increase the production of hemoglobin to compensate for poor oxygenation.

Also known as "Peruvian gingseng"for its invigorating properties, maca is a concentrate of vitamins (A, C and those of group B), plant sterols, minerals (Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium), amino acids (on average 10.2%), fatty acids, carbohydrates and fibers that make it an excellent food for those suffering from pathologies of the nervous system but also of anemia because it increases the levels of hemoglobin in the blood.

Maca, an adaptogen remedy

Taking maca increases the body's ability to adapt to stressful agents of various kinds, and is able to balance and stabilize the cardiovascular system, the muscular and lymphatic systems. It also counteracts osteoporosis, strengthens the immune system and supports the nervous system, increasing concentration, mental clarity and memory.

Maca is particularly useful for "energy vacuum syndromes", characterized by constant fatigue, hair loss, dull skin and decreased sexual desire. It also increases physical resistance, counteracts nervous hunger, prevents hair loss, keeps skin toned and well hydrated and bones supple, tones muscles and increases lean mass.

Maca, a great sexual tonic

But the field in which maca gives its best is that of sexual problems, both male and female. In fact, maca is famous for its aphrodisiac properties because it contains alkaloids which, acting on the pituitary and hypothalamus, counteract the hormonal imbalances from which not only the loss of desire originates, but also the sexual dysfunctions and male and female infertility. Numerous researches have in fact shown that, in women, maca acts by stimulating the maturation of Graff's follicles, while in males it increases both the sperm volume and the number and vitality of spermatozoa. It is also recommended in all cases of pre-menstrual syndrome and painful or irregular cycles, but also during pregnancy and breastfeeding because it tones the uterus and promotes lactation.

Contrasts libidinal decline and anorgasmia

Maca is also an excellent remedy against induced sexual problems, especially against libidinal loss andanorgasmia caused by performance anxiety, a drop in hormone levels or by taking pressure drugs, hormones or antidepressants: its alkaloids act on the pituitary and hypothalamus, restoring hormonal balance and relaxing tension.

How to take maca

Maca is commercially available in the form of capsules, containing the dried and ground root. Taking one a day for a month is enough to counteract stress, solve the energy drop and regain vitality and good mood. In case of sexual disorders or to promote pregnancy, two capsules are taken a day for a period of four months.


Due to its high energy charge, maca is not recommended in cases of hyperthyroidism and hypertension.

Maca powder daily dose

Although its properties are numerous and so are the benefits it brings to our body, we remind you not to exceed in its use.

Its recommended daily dose is the one that goes between 5 and 20 grams of powder or dried maca root.

Like all foods and supplements, it is never good to overuse them.

What makes its properties true allies for our body is the constant and daily use, not too high a dose!

You can use maca in powder form as a kind of flour or dried.

In both cases it keeps all its extraordinary properties intact.

You can add it to yogurt for a super energizing breakfast, or to a fresh fruit smoothie.

Why not add the powder to a bottle of water and take it to the office to always have a fresh, thirst-quenching and energizing drink at hand.

If you want to dabble in the kitchen in preparing delicious recipes, you can add 10 grams of maca powder among the ingredients for cakes or bread.

Contraindications of Peruvian maca

Peruvian maca has energy properties that are so powerful that they are totally not recommended if you suffer from hypertension or hyperthyroidism. It is also not recommended even in the case of pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as to children and adolescents.

It always has to take it with caution and only when real need is felt because, if it is abused, it risks having effects opposite to those hoped for and bring about insomnia, agitation, anxiety, even stomach pain and heartburn.

For more scientific information on the properties of maca, you can consult the Humanitas website.

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