Maca, Wonder Herb For Fertility…

Maca, Wonder Herb For Fertility…

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root-like cruciferous vegetable from the Andes of Peru. It grows in some of the harshest farmlands in the world; experiencing freezing temperatures, fierce winds and intense sunlight. Often the soil is rich in volcanic minerals. Maca is the only food crop in the world that can grow and thrive at such a high altitude and in such harsh weather. For more than two millennia, native Peruvians have used Maca root as food and medicine to promote fertility, endurance, energy, vitality, and sexual virility.

Stories of Maca’s fertility supporting effects have been passed down through history in a story that took place in the 1500’s. Soon after the Spanish Conquest in South America occurred the Spanish began to experience poor health and infertility, so did their livestock. This was due to the high altitude of the Andes. The native Peruvians recommended that they feed their livestock and themselves Maca. The results were so dramatic that many of the first written records ever kept for the Andean region were passages about Maca. There are also historical notes recording that the Conquistadors began demanding to be paid in Maca instead of gold.

How Maca Works

Maca root is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown in studies to improve fertility in both men and women.

Containing 31 different minerals and 60 different phytonutrients, Maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands (all involved in hormonal balance.) Maca has the ability to affect key hormones in both women and men without containing hormones itself.

Maca has been scientifically researched for the use of increasing fertility since 1961 and has been shown to contain specific compounds called glucosinolates which can affect fertility for both men and women. These alkaloids are responsible for Maca’s ability to support hormonal balance.

Benefits of maca:

  • Supports hormonal balance
  • Increases energy, stamina, and mental clarity
  • Supports the thyroid
  • Supports normal sexual function

Adaptogenic
Maca also has adaptogenic properties which, means it helps to strengthen the body so it is able to better resist disease and stress, support the adrenal glands and balance the body’s functions. In order for an herb to be considered an adaptogen it must be non-toxic or harmless to any organ of the body and must be able to be ingested for long periods of time safely. Maca is classified as an adaptogen.

Endocrine System Tonic
One of Maca’s main actions is to stimulate and nourish the hypothalamus which regulates the pituitary gland, acting as a tonic for the hormone system. When the pituitary gland functions optimally, the entire endocrine system becomes balanced, because the pituitary gland controls the hormone output of the adrenals, thyroid and sex organs (testes and prostate in men, ovaries and uterus in women).

Promotes Hormonal Balance
In women, maca helps the body to promote balanced estrogen and progesterone levels. Estrogen or progesterone levels that are high or low at the wrong time can keep a woman from becoming pregnant or keep her from carrying to term. Excess estrogen levels can cause progesterone levels to become too low, this is known as estrogen dominance. Taking Maca may help to balance the estrogen to progesterone ratio which is essential to achieving and carrying a healthy pregnancy.

Too much estrogen in men may cause erectile dysfunction, lack of libido, low sperm count, and lowered production of seminal fluid. Studies have shown that men who use Maca may experience an increased libido and an increase in sperm health.

In one study, maca was given to female and male rats and it was found that the females had multiple egg follicle maturation (important for ovulation), and the males had significantly higher sperm production and motility rates.

Supports Normal Sexual Function
A human study of 9 men who were given gelatinized Maca for 4 months at 1,500 – 3,000 mg a day, showed the men experienced an increase in libido, sperm count, motility of sperm, increased DHEA levels, decreased anxiety and stress, lowered blood pressure, balanced iron levels and an increase in adrenal androgens.

How to Use Maca

When purchasing Maca you want to make sure the product you are using has only Maca root in it, not leaves or stem. Maca is available in powder, capsules or tincture. It is also available in varying strengths.

Maca powder: Maca powder comes in two forms. Plain Maca powder that is just raw powdered Maca root, or gelatinized Maca. Gelatinization is a completely vegetarian process that removes the starch from Maca to improve assimilation and make it more concentrated.

We find that gelatinized maca is easier to digest than the plain powder and is also more cost effective since it is more concentrated. The studies mentioned above used gelatinized Maca. Gelatinization does not refer to “gelatin”, and no animal derived ingredients are incorporated into this process.

Maca powder can be added to juice, smoothies, yogurt or baked goods. It has a nice malty flavor which goes well with foods. I like to add it to all of my smoothies.

Maca capsules: Maca capsules are a convenient way to get Maca daily. Many people will find using the Maca capsules to be easier since they can be taken at any time with some water.

Maca tincture: A tincture of Maca root is a liquid extract of the medicinal properties of Maca. Maca tincture can be taken with water, in juice or added to smoothies.

Dosage
General suggested usage is 500-3000 mg a day. To obtain desired results, Maca needs to be taken regularly. It can be taken in one dose or throughout the day.

Note: Maca is slightly energy stimulating and because of this we find that it is best taken prior to 3pm, so that nighttime sleep is not disturbed in any way.

Safety & Side Effects

Maca is a beneficial herb that has been used for thousands of years and consumed everyday as a food and medicine by the Peruvians. Based on its long history of use as a food it appears to be very safe. Toxicity studies (conducted at Product Safety Labs of East Brunswick, N.J.) showed absolutely no toxicity and no adverse pharmacological effects.

A small number of women experienced stomach upset when consuming plain maca root (not gelatinized). Additionally, some women experience spotting or a change in their menstrual cycle when they first begin using Maca. This is normal and a sign that the body is beginning to balance the hormonal system.

Maca Use During Pregnancy

As a safety precaution most manufacturers state that their supplements should not be used during pregnancy. There have been no studies on the use of Maca during pregnancy. Acute toxicity studies and cytotoxicity evaluations have demonstrated absence of any evidence of potential toxicity of Maca. The Peruvians have been consuming maca as a food for thousands of years. Since there have been no studies on the use of Maca during pregnancy we can not state that it is proven safe to use during pregnancy. Please do your own research and make a personal decision on the use of Maca during your pregnancy.

Summary

As you can see from all the actions Maca can have on the body, it is a wonderful fertility superfood and tonic. Maca can complement any fertility program and should be used on a daily basis for best results. It can also be used in conjunction with other fertility herbs and supplements.

Learn more about using Maca for fertility through our useful Q&A…

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[-] 229 Comments
  1. I am extremely confused about maca. I have pcos however i have always had regular periods and from time to time ewcm, not often but even when i dont get it i test with lueitinizing hormone stips each month and its always positive. I also have fibroids and see conflicting articles that basically whats good for pcos is not good for fibroids. i am TTC without luck im assuming its due to my fibroids and not pcos. my tubes are not blocked and was told the fibroids shouldnt deter pregnancy. i am now looking into natural remedies to get pregnant (30 year old). so far ive been taking evening primrose oil, milk thistle, cod liver oil, folic acid, multivitamins, and serrapeptase, can i add maca?

    • Hi Sandy,

      I am confused about why you are “extremely confused about maca.”? Also, what information exactly is conflicting about PCOS and Uterine Fibroid natural treatments? To answer your questions, yes, Maca is fine to combine with all of the other supplements you asked about.

      I look forward to hearing back from you.

    • Hello Dalene
      Thanks for your response. one of the biggest complaint i read about maca is that it alters the menstrual cycle and delay ovulation as well. considering i have a regular cycle and TTC i wouldn’t want to mess that up and make an already difficult journey harder. i have never been tested for estrogen levels, but i have done a day 21 progesterone test which was 16.2 n/mL and was told this meant i ovulated, at least for that cycle. I still dont notice ewcm each cycle even with taking even primrose oil for about 1 whole month, as i did not know it was only to be taken from cycle day 1 to ovulation and not after ovulation. will add maca royal jelly and red raspberry tea to my list

    • Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for getting back to me. I have only seem Maca shift a menstrual cycle (including ovulation date) in very few women, and typically only in the first cycle as the body gets used to it. Again, this is rare. I can understand your apprehension, since your cycle is regular now. To me, based on the information you have provided, I am not sure Maca is your best choice. If you are going to add something to your regime, I would say focus on blood/uterine building herbs like Dong Quai and Hibiscus flower in addition to the Red Raspberry leaf. Also, another area to focus on is to increase circulation to the reproductive organs. This article 3 Easy Ways to Increase Circulation to Your Uterus has great, natural and easy tips to do this!

      In regard to your comment about use of EPO, yes that suggested use would only be for those who are TTC.

    • Once again thank you for taking the time to respond to me. What would be the best form to take dong quai, tea, pills etc? i also found the tidbit on livestrong.com “Avoid feverfew, ginger, licorice, Chinese skullcap, turmeric, ginseng and garlic when taking dong quai.” i do enjoy cooking with ginger, garlic and tumeric as i also read they are goods to add to diet, i guess i will just not use them when i use dong quai for a part of my cycle? May i add tribulus instead of dong quai since tribulus increases chances of ovulation? And then just follow some of the steps in the article you linked? sorry to be so indecisive.

    • Hello again, Sandy,

      All of those herbs you mentioned may have a similar action as Dong Quai, so they may be overly cautious with the information they are giving out at Livestrong.com, though that is speculation. I think Dong Quai is fine to combine with those herbs, at the right dose. I find that website to be alarmist.

      Tribulus and Dong Quai work completely differently. If ovulation is a problem then yes, Tribulus may be a better choice than Dong Quai. Dong Quai is a better choice for encouraging healthy menses and menstrual cycle overall, it also offers relief for menstrual cramps, where Tribulus doesn’t. Tribulus is also more specific to promoting overall hormonal regulation.

      I hope that helps you make a decision. Yes, the steps in the article I linked to you are great for improving uterine health.

  2. where can i get maca. am in kenya

  3. I’m having a hard time finding this info anywhere, but is there somewhere I can find out which herbs are appropriate to take during each phase of the cycle? Currently I have, Maca, Raspberry Tea, Nettle Leaf Tea, Chaste Berry, and Dandelion. I want to make sure I’m taking them during the right time to help support my full cycle. I’m pretty irregular now, and plan to take a hormone test soon. Just wanted an idea of herbs for the phases of cycle. Thanks!

    • Dear Katy,

      Maca, Red Raspberry Leaf tea, Nettle, Chaste Berry (Vitex) and dandelion can all be taken all cycle long. There are only a few that are best not used after ovulation when you begin actively trying to conceive, none of which are on you list.

  4. I’m TTC and was wondering if it’s ok to take Maca while also using essential oils such as the Progessence Plus from Young Living?

    • Dear Stephanie,

      It is my understand that Maca can be combined with Progessence Plus, as it can be combined with essential oils and progesterone cream. It may also be worth reaching out to ask the makers of this oil their thoughts.

  5. Is it okey for a azoospermiac man to take maca with cordyceps?

  6. I’m currently on Clomid, can I use Maca at the same time?

  7. Is it ok to take Maca along with DIM and natural progesterone for severe endo? My doctor has me on bioidentical progesterone and I’ve been doing very well on it with almost no pain during my last two periods, but as soon as I took Maca, my period came 10 days early and with it a new pain deep in my lower left pelvic region (the left side is also where my one remaining ovary is, so this is worrying). I have no idea what is causing this pain or if it’s really endo-related, but I’m not sure whether I should continue with the Maca now. Any thoughts?

    I wouldn’t ask my PCP about it as he is a bit difficult when it comes to alternative therapies and had wanted to put me on GnRH agonists instead.

    • Dear Arden,

      Fertilica Maca and DIM Complete can be taken with Fertilica Natural Progesterone Cream.

      Was what you experienced a normal period, or could it have been ovulation occurring? Have you spotted or experienced ovulation pain in past cycles? Maca in part supports the body in achieving hormone balance and DIM helps the body properly metabolize excess estrogen. In doing both, hormones can shift and as a result the menstrual cycle may shift before normalizing.

      All this being said, the way to know if Maca was the culprit is to discontinue it to see how your next cycle is.

      No matter the stage of endometriosis, we know a natural endometriosis support plan can be helpful. This plan should include dietary and lifestyle changes which are equally as important as using herbs, nutritional supplements and natural therapies.

      All my best!

  8. Is it recommended to take Maca everyday? Menstruation through ovulation? Thank you!!

    • Dear Leah,

      Fertilica Maca can be taken daily through the entire menstrual cycle without taking a break while preparing for conception and actively trying to conceive.

  9. I got pregnant on Maca, and it also helped me sleep. I adore the guy who showed this to me at the vitamin shoppe! Try it ladies!

    • Did you use the regular powder? Or the gelatinized?

  10. where can i buy maca powder?

  11. Thank you for this great source of information! I recently stopped using the birth control pill to allow some time for my body to recover before trying to conceive. However after one “phantom” period, I’ve yet to menstruate again in over three months. I visited my doctor who instantly suggested provera without doing any tests to support his assessment that my circumstances were likely due to fertility issues. I’ve been taking an amazing multivitamin and evening primrose oil. I’m interested in trying Vitex and Maca as well. Would you suggest trying these natural remedies before provera? Is it OK to use the natural remedies in addition to provera? Thank you again!!

    • Dear Deanna,

      We work with many women who experience delayed or lack of menstruation after stopping birth control. While Fertilica Vitex and Maca may be helpful, consider also referring to our guide to How to Balance Your Hormones After Birth Control.

      We can not suggest combining herbs that have hormone-balancing actions, like Vitex, Maca or Evening Primrose Oil, with medications that do the same. If interested in combining them, it would be best to speak to your healthcare provider about doing so.

      I hope that guide is helpful!