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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[-] 261 Comments
  1. I was wondering if there were any recorded studies regarding pregnant women that have taken Maca? I’ve only been able to find various message boards or blogs where some women have stated they used it with no complications. Just trying to locate other sources.

    • Dear Kiwian,

      I do not know of any scientific studies of Maca’s use in human pregnancy. Studies are either done on rats, or show the benefits/efficacy of Maca used pre-pregnancy. Although I know studies can be reassuring, there are few researchers willing to experiment with herbs on pregnant women in the event there is even a slight chance there could be an negative impact on the pregnancy.

      If interested in continuing or using Maca into pregnancy, finding a qualified naturopath, herbalist or midwife may be helpful.

      Best wishes!

  2. Hi, i would like to find out if there are anyone who should be avoiding maca root powder at all? Like people with hypothyroid and hashimoto (autoimmune disease)? Or is it actually safe to take in general? And it would actually in hope even take away the thyroid issue? I am not on any medications, so far the doctor says it’s very borderline.

    • Dear Evon Yu,

      It is those with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis that should not use Maca unless their healthcare provider is guiding them in doing so. What we have learned is that Maca offers nourishment that most others, men and women, can benefit from.

  3. Hi there. I am a little confused about if I would be a good candidate for maca. I have been trying to conceive for 17 months with no success. We have been tested and everything shows up normal and thus have been diagnosed with unexplained. I have read great things about maca, but also that it can prolong your cycle and delay ovulation in some women. I have a very regular cycle (27-29 days), but I do have a fairly light and scanty flow. I also ovulate very regularly between day 13-15. I am getting ready to prep for IVF, but want to give this a try before we start. Any advice would be appreciated. I am just nervous to try it and mess my regular cycles up. Thank you!

    • Dear MD,

      It is my experience that it is rare to experience cycle shifts from Maca alone. It is an amazing fertility superfood for men and women, but not to be used with IVF medications. It can be rather fast-acting however in terms of its ability to support libido and energy levels.

      If there is light, bright red menstruation, this may also be a sign of a lack of circulation to the uterus (called a ‘cold uterus’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine). This may be helped by these herbs and natural therapies (all best used before IVF begins):
      Dong quai
      Self Fertility Massage
      Castor Oil packs
      Heating packs
      Moderate, daily exercise (a brisk walk is great)

      It may be worth trying a natural therapy such as Castor Oil Packs or Self Fertility Massage and daily exercise is taking an herb makes you nervous as it is more likely that nervousness/stress will impact menstrual cycle timing than Maca would.

      I hope this is helpful!

    • Thanks for getting back to me. The reason I want to try maca is because I have already tried castor oil packs (which have helped me bleed a little more), heating packs and daily exercise (I walk 40 minutes each way to and from work, do additional cardio twice a week, and yoga another 4 times a week). None of this has helped so far, so I wanted to give maca a go. I wouldn’t take it during any treatment, just before to try one last thing before IVF. Do you think that is a good idea? I also have not tried Dong Quai. Can you take that with Maca? Thanks again.

    • Hello again MD!

      Fertilica Maca and Dong Quai can be combined. This is fine!

      Maca has been shown to nourish the endocrine and immune systems, and support a healthy stress response in the body. It is a nutrient-packed, fertility super food that we consider foundational for sperm and egg health support, energy and libido. Ultimately it may be best to learn all you can about Maca to choose whether it is right for you or not.

      Do you walk 80 minutes 5 days a week and then also do cardio and Yoga? This may be hard to change, but also may be encroaching on too much exercise for fertility. Do you happen to know your BMI? I know it is funny to read “too much exercise”, but when battling unexplained infertility this can be factor. The menstrual cycle can fluctuate and periods be scant when a woman exercises too much or her body fat content is too low (low BMI and overexercising).

      Thank you for allowing to to think in type… I just want to be thorough with you as you seek answers and try to decided the best natural therapies for your needs.

    • Thanks for your response Elizabeth. I do walk 80 minutes a day (5 days) & then also do cardio & yoga. I used to walk 80 minutes & do 40 minutes of cardio everyday, but I cut back a lot & am willing to cut back more if I need to or cut it out completely. I don’t know my bmi off the top of my head, I weigh about 105lbs & I’m 5’3″. I have been trying to gain a little in the last few months, but have only put on a few lbs. Not sure if that helps. My cycle is pretty regular in terms of timing, but my flow is very light, although acupuncture and castor oil packs have helped. When I ask my doctors if I should cut back exercise or gain weight they always so no, just don’t lose weight. Any advice?

    • Hello again MD!

      Thank you for sharing this information. Your BMI, based on height and weight, is 18.6 (18.5 is considered the lowest end of normal, under 18.5 is underweight according to most resources). So, be sure to focus on eating healthy proteins and fats daily to stay within the normal range for your height and weight. Being underweight can contribute to fertility issues.

      Do also be sure to stay hyrdated while exercising. Fluid intake can impact menstrual flow. In terms of “light”, might this be your normal? I think another helpful resource will be our guide What About Unexplained Infertility? if you have not seen that.

      In terms of trying Maca, if it makes you nervous or worry that there is a even a slight possibility your cycle will shift, then it may be best to not use it. Worry and stress also impact menstrual cycle and fertility health. We don’t want you to worry about any natural therapies you are using.

      I hope the guides I have linked you to in our replies here are helpful!

  4. I am 51yrs.old and have not had a peroid for two years. Could this possibly help me get pregnant or should I accept that my time is done?

    • Dear Laurie,

      While Maca may offer many benefits, it may not be alone all you need to conceive. Since time is of the essence and herbs aren’t able to reverse the natural, healthy aging process that is menopause, our team feels that it is in your best interest to work with a practitioner who supports natural preparation for pregnancy that is accessible to you. Consider reaching out to the practitioners at https://www.womentowomen.com/.

      I am sure you have read the statistics about conception and what is known about pregnancy complications for women over the age of 50. We want you to have the best chance at a healthy pregnancy and baby, and only working with a qualified practitioner is going to help you be able to do that!

  5. I have been diagnosed with endometriosis and recently had surgery. Is it possible to take Maca with Endometriosis. My Gynae has also prescribed Clomid, is it possible to take Maca with a fertility drug.

    • Dear Shan,

      While Maca offers many fertility health benefits and is not contraindicated for those with endometriosis, we can not suggest its use with Clomid. If you are currently already on fertility medications, you should not combine herbs with your medications. Herbs that act on the hormonal system could affect how your medications are working.

      What can be considered are dietary and lifestyle changes to help the body maintain a health inflammation response and proper growth of endometrial tissue. Consider learning about foods to eat and avoid, as well as lifestyle changes in our guide 5 Steps to Reversing Endometriosis Infertility.

      Take care!

  6. Hi. I am 36 and we have been trying to get pregnant for 10 months. I recently went under screening at fertility clinic and they said everything looks perfect both for me and my husband and they said the only thing is that I have thin endometrium lining (6mm). Is there anyhow to fix this naturally? If so what should I take? Thanks!