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, where the soil is rich in volcanic minerals, experiencing freezing temperatures, fierce winds and intense sunlight . Maca is the only plant known 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 in themselves as well as in 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 both 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 directly 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 balances 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 other three glands.

Promotes Hormonal Balance
In women, maca works by controlling estrogen in the body. Estrogen 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 also cause progesterone levels to become too low. Taking maca may help to increase the progesterone levels which are essential to carrying a healthy pregnancy.

Estrogen in men produces erectile dysfunction or 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 with rats and maca, it was found that animals given maca powder showed multiple egg follicle maturation in females (important for ovulation) and the males had significantly higher sperm production and motility rates.

Supports normal sexual function
In a human study of 9 men who were given gelatinized maca for 4 months at 1,500 – 3,000 mg a day experienced an increase in libido, sperm count, mobillity 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 powdered maca root or gelatinized maca. Gelatinization is a completely vegetarian process that removes the starch from maca to improve assimilation and increases the concentration.

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 is can be taken with water, in juice or added to smoothies.

Dosage
General suggested usage is 2000-3000 mg a day. To obtain desired results, maca needs to be taken regularly. It can be taken in one dose or through out the day.

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.

In a small amount of women, some using plain maca root (not gelatinized) experienced stomach upset. 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.

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[-] 48 Comments
  1. Pls,where l can l get this maca in nigeria, Africa?i’m in need of it.
    i want to get pregnant.thanks

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Hope,
      Please contact our customer care team for guidance on how to order that which you are interested in. They are more than happy to assist you as best as they can. Thank you!

  2. My husband is over seas at this time and will return 6/2015 upon his return we both want a child and i am 40 yrs of age with one goog healthy ovarie left… Will Maca be of great help for us or please help us on what would be best for us ?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Nina,
      Maca works to support hormonal balance in both men and women, egg and sperm health, and FSH levels in women, encourages a healthy libido in both men and women and normal endometrium health. It can be taken by both men and women, even if you do not have fertility issues per say. It may be supportive of your efforts to conceive if you feel you need its supportive benefits.
      I wish you well!

  3. Hi! I just love this Web site. Thank you for all the love and hard work you put into it… Just a quick question… I started taking maca powder 1tsp/day about three weeks ago. I had a super heavy period about a week later (so bad that I stood up and flooded all over the floor). The heavy bleeding lasted about 3-4 days. Now for the past 6 days I’ve had a pinkish mucous continously. Is this because of the maca? I’m trying to balance everything to prepare for a baby after issues with my fourth bub. Thank you in advance for your expertise.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Deny,
      I am sorry this is causing you concern and I understand how it would. Heavy menstruation is known to be caused by prostaglandin imbalance and/or over-stimulation of the uterine lining from estrogens (estrogen dominance) and possibly nutritional imbalances. Have you started any other new herbs, supplements or natural therapies, or had any dietary changes?
      I have never heard of flooding as a result of taking Maca.
      This being said, Maca works in part to balance hormones and in doing so can cause shifts in the cycle. The degree to which this happens is different for every woman and often any shifts work themselves out within 1-3 cycles of use of the herb.
      Pink tinged cervical mucus may be simply be cervical mucus that has a bit of leftover blood from this last cycle you had. If it is causing you great concern, you may want to visit your healthcare provider.
      I wish you peace!

  4. I am 25 and recently diagnosed with PCOS after not getting my period after stopping birth control. My problem is I am borderline underweight and have very low estradiol, low normal progesterone and mid-high testosterone as confirmed through saliva and blood testing. Since my estrogen is so low I have trouble building a lining to shed every month. Will maca help increase my estrogen levels, or is it only useful for estrogen dominance? Thanks!

    • Hi Jessie,

      Maca supports the body in regulating and balancing hormone levels, that is all hormone levels, not just estrogen or progesterone.

      If you are looking for more specific support, I would urge you to consider learning more about Fertilica Harmonize Phase 1 & 2 herbal formulas. These formulas support both the follicular phase and luteal phase, address excess androgen levels, encourage ovulation and improve digestion and nutrition levels. Click here to learn more about the herbs in these biphasic herbal formulas…

      I am curious as to whether you think you had PCOS prior to taking birth control or if you were taking it for irregular cycles and just hadn’t been diagnosed with PCOS yet, or if you developed PCOS after taking the birth control?

      Don’t forget diet is very important when it comes to PCOS and because you are borderline underweight eating good fats, lots of fiber and a wide variety of nutrient dense foods is going to be very important. Let me know if you have other questions and have a great day!

  5. Hi
    My estrogen is high and I’m on vitex,vitamins,and royal jelly buti just got maca like yesterday. Can maca work with them?

  6. where and how can we get it please

  7. I was diagnosed as being estrogen dominant in 2008 while ttc with the help of an RE (reproductive endocrinologist). This year (2014), I ttc on my own, and decided to give vitex a try to help with my somewhat irregular periods..as it took too long between periods (approx 2 – 3months). On the last day of my period, I began taking vitex; and 2 days later, i developed a nagging headache that grew worse day by day. I also started bleeding again. I had to stop after one week as the headaches became constant and was frequently leading to migraines. 2 weeks later after stopping the vitex, and the bleeding had slowed down to occasional spotting….I started taking maca….there were no headaches, but the bleeding came back subtly (without cramps) and gradually increased to a flood with huge, multiple clots. After one month on maca with alternating days of heavy bleeding and spotting; I decided to stop the maca. 2 weeks after quitting, I still kept on bleeding and spotting. I did not ovulate on either the vitex or maca. I had to go back to my doctor to get a prescription for provera, which brought my 10wks bleed to a stop. Right now, I am on provera day # 5 and I am looking forward to resetting my cycle, as vitex and maca had totally messed up my system…..I did quite a bit of research on the internet before starting either. I just thought to share my story because we do not all respond in the same way…If your cycles are regular. do not take.

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for sharing your story. You are correct, every person is unique and may not react the same to herbs we provide information about here. I am sorry you had a bad experience with these herbs. We find it is best to work with a qualified herbalist, so that herbs can be suggested at the proper dose based on that person’s individual needs. “Self-prescribing” may lead to misuse or choosing the wrong herb entirely. I hope you get your heavy menstrual bleeding and irregular cycles figured out with the help of a practitioner – a medical doctor, herbalist, naturopath, etc.

      All the best!

  8. Hi. I have been taking a product called Adaptocrine for the last few months. Its active ingredients are panax ginseng extract root, ashwagandha extract root, holy basil leaf, rhodiola extract, eleuthero extract, pantethine. I want to add Maca to hopefully help with my infertility problems. Will any of these herbs I mentioned counteract or cause Maca to be less effective if taken together?

    • Hi Stefanie,

      Maca is fine to combine with the herbs and supplements in that product. Maca is thought to be an adaptogen herb, and so are many of the herbs listed in that product. They will not counteract one another. Thanks for asking.

  9. hi, I have been taking multi maca for a month plus now and am now 14 days late on my period. I did a home pregnancy test and it was negative. Have neither period nor pregnancy signs. Could it be that its the change in cycles or what, I am confused really dont know what 2 do?

    • Hi martha,

      There is no way I can say for sure if it is the maca or not. There have been reports of maca delaying menstruation as the body adjusts to the action of this herb, this should normalize over the first few cycles of use. It is best to continue on with the maca, as long as you know for sure you are not pregnant. The body responds better when herbs are taken consistently over time. I hope this helps :)

  10. Hi i took vitex and maca root together & found out I was pregnant after the 1st cycle on both after 6 years !! I completely stop both the same day of finding But at 5weeks I am now waitng to return to my dr. Next week due to a possible threating misscarriage. Do you think I should have continued to take the maca root until the placenta took over. Im worried that me stopping it so abruptly may have been to early and my levels dropped. Im confused as to when you should stop the two after achieving pregnancy?

    • Hi Toi,

      This is a very good question! There really is no research on vitex and maca use throughout a human pregnancy, so no one can say yes, go ahead and take in through pregnancy. Many, many skilled herbalists or herbally trained midwives have helped pregnant women use these herbs through the first trimester of pregnancy, but only under strict guidance. If you want to continue vitex and maca into early pregnancy, it is best to build a rapport with an herbalist or midwife prior to conception, to help guide you through this transition. Click here to learn how to safely discontinue herbs in early pregnancy…

      To ease your mind, most miscarriages occur due to an abnormality in the developing fetus. I am sorry for your loss and wish you all the best for your next pregnancy!

  11. I am 35 and have been told that I have very low anti-mullerian hormone levels. Doctor said this is very rare for someone my age and doesn’t know what would cause it. I have regular periods, but have had three first trimester miscarriages in a row. Have been told to take famara to help ‘drop a healthy egg’ and then low dose heparin and baby aspirin. I do not want to take fomara, and want to find out what is causing the low anti-mullerian hormone levels. Do you have a clue as to what could be causing the low levels? I love maca and take it in my smoothies. Please help, any info is appreciated.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I am sorry to hear of your difficult diagnosis, it is true that to have very low AMH levels are rare for women in their early to mid-30s. There is hope though! We have had a handful (I know this doesn’t seem like many, but we are talking about a rare situation) of women improve their AMH levels through diet and lifestyle changes, and following our Improve Egg Health guidelines.

      AMH levels are typically used to determine ovarian reserve (count) rather than egg health. FSH levels help to determine egg health and ovarian reserve, so if your FSH levels are elevated, that will help you determine egg health. There are many reasons a woman may have low ovarian reserve at a younger age. You can learn more about that by clicking here: Premature Ovarian Failure Skip down to the Follicle Dysfunction section.

      Maca is a good start, but cannot be relied on as the sole solution. I don’t think you should give up on medical options to achieve pregnancy, as they are there to help those who struggle to achieve pregnancy, to have a child. It would be best though, to take at least 3-6 months to improve egg health in preparation for pregnancy, regardless if you choose the natural route, or the medical route. You will be increasing your chances of success. If you are not sure where to begin, we do offer wonderful consultations! I hope this helps you to know where to get started! Have a great day :)

  12. I’ve been taking maca powder, one tspn/day, for almost a month now. For the past few months, I’ve been taking various supplements in preparation of trying to conceive soon and up until last month, I saw my endometriosis symptoms improving (more regular & less painful cycles, etc.). However, my period is now several days late which is odd given the clockwork nature for the few months before starting maca. Also, my acne, which had been improving, seems to be worsening again. I’m very tempted to stop taking maca but am wondering if this is a hasty decision per your article: “Some women experience… 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.” I obviously don’t want to have irregular or missed cycles when preparing to conceive. What would you advise? Is it just a temporary “rebalancing”?

    • Hello,

      Yes, I would say it is the latter. It is common to experience menstrual cycle shifts when beginning maca or any other herb that has an action on hormones. I know it feels scary at first, but this should regulate over the next cycle.

  13. Hi Hethir.
    I love you and your wonderful website.
    After making an extensive research on hormones a and woman health,I started taking maca .and I love it.But there is a problem I have been facing is getting some undesirable effect like acne on my face .I have just started taken Maca root with only one tablet of popular brand Natures way Alive whole food Energizer Max potency , but since the second day of use this formula my face got break out.it has been eight days only and now I have mor four acne on my face. Could you please tell me what is wrong with taking whole food supplemnt with Maca root.Iam already taking a very small dose of maca root 500gm per day in afternoon and one tab of Alive whole food supplemnt Max in the morning.This the first time I have been experiencing any unpleasent effects with maca with whole food supplement.It would be great if you suggest me the best advice how to take them and kindly please have a look of label of Alive whole food Max ingredients, because there are many green food ,plants and herbs that they hae added into this formula.I have no idea what to do. I have spent alot of money for them I purchase them by online shop,so I dont want to waist them until I get any advice from you. Please help me and tell me which herbs and green food are not safe including into alive supplement with Maca root.or not?how can I take them safely/??

    I am looking forward to your sweet response.
    best regards
    Cindrella.

    • Hi Cinderella,

      It is very common to experience symptoms of hormonal changes within the body when first introducing any herb/s that have an action on the hormonal system. Acne is just one of these. Typically this will go away by the next cycle of use, as the body begins to get used to the action of the herb. I can’t comment on the other supplement, as I am not familiar with it. You may want to contact the manufacturer of that supplement regarding your concerns. Another thought, the greens food supplement may be causing a “cleansing” type of effect on the body, though that is speculation.

  14. Hi

    am 29 male. I have a moderate estrogen dominance which doesnt show on tests. Only thingwrong on tests is prolactin which comes slightly above range. I have all symptoms of estrogen dom from joints pain to low libido fatigue … etc … I took maca for 2 weeks in powder form and it was amazing at the beginning then I stopped it when the great feeling went away. After stopping I felt super down. Now am lifting weights 3 times per week and I feel better. How can I use maca to balance my hormones ?

    • Hi obad,

      Eat more fiber. Fiber helps to remove excess estrogen from the body naturally. Think whole grains, 2 Tbsp. ground fresh flax seed daily and a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Another option to help promote estrogen metabolism is the supplement DIM, you can learn about it here…

      To address your maca concerns, I think that is the point, to feel better and not notice any major changes in the body after taking an herb a supplement, right? If you were feeling better and you plateaued, that sounds actually normal. It is normal to feel a shift in the body at first, but as hormone levels begin to balance out, you should just feel normal again. Maca is best used as supplement longer term, for about 6 months consistently, but it can be taken safely daily for years. I am glad to hear you are feeling better from lifting weights, exercise is important for hormone health as well. Learn more ways to support male fertility here…

  15. Hi, I am using Maca in powder form how much should I be using (in teaspoons) daily in my smoothies? Also I have heard it is good to cook with Maca, do you have any recommendations for recipes? Thanks Sam

    • Hi Sam,

      Yes, you can put maca powder in any food you would like to, bake with it, add it to salad dressing recipes, etc. I am not sure I know of any maca recipes off hand to link to besides this Maca Popcorn one… There are also several raw maca truffle recipes on the web.

  16. Hello,
    I started taking Royal Jelly and Maca since the first day of my last period. I am planning on stopping Maca after avulation just to be on the safe side. I am on synthroid and I am not sure if I should be taking Maca at the same time. I read in one of the comments that it is not recommended while taking hormones.

    Please advice.

    Thanks!

  17. How long does will it take to decrease my estrogen levels? I have endometriosis and have been taking it for 10 days now. I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood which is great. Also, the Women’s Best Friend has made my period almost pain free!!! Usually I’m bedridden for 2-3 days. I’m just hoping my estrogen and progesterone get regulated quickly too so I can get pregnant.

    • Hi Haley,

      Each and every person is different. It typically takes a minimum of 3-6 months of consistent use, along with diet and lifestyle changes to help support the body in balancing hormone levels once again.

  18. I started taking Maca Root capsules at 2000 mg for about two weeks now. I’ve developed some breast tenderness. Does this mean I’m taking too much?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Shanika ~ Maca has the potential to support hormone balance and as your body responds to this fertility superfood, you may experience symptoms of hormone fluctuation one of which can be breast tenderness. Rather than meaning you are taking too much, this is very likely a sign if your body responding to it. General suggested usage for maca is 1500-3000 mg a day.

  19. Can Maca and Vitex be taken at the same time?

  20. Can I use maca with hormones

  21. I live and worked in Lagos Nigeria how do i get this MACA ROOT?

  22. can maca make you lose weight

    • No, maca doesn’t “make” a person lose weight. It has been shown to increase energy and stamina, which may help increase a persons desire for more physical movement and increase the time in which the body can withstand physical exercise.

  23. I need to access this MACA root please help.

  24. Hello, my name is Abera I live in Bahrain and I always read your useful articles about fertility to get pregnant is my strong desire.I am 42years old and I am a fitness trainer so I need to try the maca herb because my problem is hormone imbalance I checked it so many time but my problem is undefined my monthly period is not regular miss 3_4monthes if I stop taking a piles (birth control) beacose of this reason I would like to try maca herb.and I need your help please can I perches on line from you site please?if yes that is my pleasure .looking forward your reply.

    • Hi Misrak,

      We have an online store, The Natural Fertility Shop, contact them here for further assistance. You said you are a fitness trainer, is it possible your hormone imbalance may not only be related to your age, but also the amount of exercise you are taking part of each day? Learn how extreme exercise may impact hormone balance negatively here…