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Maca, Wonder Herb For Fertility…

Maca, Wonder Herb For Fertility…

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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.

Click here to shop Fertilica™TM Maca Root.

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.

Click here to shop for FertilicaTM Maca Root

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

References

  • Meissner, H. O., Kapczynski, W., Mscisz, A., & Lutomski, J. (2005). Use of gelatinized maca (lepidium peruvianum) in early postmenopausal women. International journal of biomedical science: IJBS, 1(1), 33. Retrieved online from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/
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  • Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Gonzales, C., Chung, A., Vega, K., & Villena, A. (2001). Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian Journal of Andrology, 3(4), 301­304.
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  • Ostrowski ­Meissner, H., Kapczyński, W., Mścisz, A., & Lutomski, J. (2003). An attempt to use Maca (Lepidium peruvianum) in postmenopausal women. Postępy Fitoterapii. Retrieved online from: http://www.czytelniamedyczna.pl/2515,proba­zastosowania­maca­lepidium­peruvianum­u­kobiet­w­okresie­wczesnej­postmeno.html
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  • Muller V. Maca in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Whole World Botanicals Report; 1­7
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  • Muller V. (2002). South American Herb Maca as Alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy. Whole World Botanicals Report; 11.
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  • Walker M. (1998). Effect of Peruvian Maca on Hormonal Functions. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients; 11: 18.
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  • Cicero, A. F. G., Piacente, S., Plaza, A., Sala, E., Arletti, R., & Pizza, C. (2002). Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia, 34(3), 177­179.
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  • Gonzales, G. F., Ruiz, A., Gonzales, C., Villegas, L., & Cordova, A. (2001). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) roots on spermatogenesis of male rats. Asian J Androl, 3(3), 231­3.
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  • Cicero, A. F., Bandieri, E., & Arletti, R. (2001). Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 75(2). 225­229.
  • Li, G., Ammermann, U., & Quirós, C. F. (2001). Glucosinolate contents in maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) seeds, sprouts, mature plants and several derived commercial products. Economic botany, 55(2), 255­262.
  • Dini, A., Migliuolo, G., Rastrelli, L., Saturnino, P., & Schettino, O. (1994). Chemical composition of Lepidium meyenii. Food chemistry, 49(4), 347­349.
  • Fahey, J. W., Zalcmann, A. T., & Talalay, P. (2001). The chemical diversity and distribution of
    glucosinolates and isothiocyanates among plants. Phytochemistry, 56(1), 5­51.
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  • Ganzera, M., Zhao, J., Muhammad, I., & Khan, I. A. (2002). Chemical profiling and standardization of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography. Chemical and pharmaceutical bulletin, 50(7), 988­991.
  • Sandovala, M., Okuhamaa, N. N., Angelesa, F. M., Melchora, V. V., Condezob, L. A., Laob, J., & Millera, M. J. (2002). Antioxidant activity of the cruciferous vegetable Maca (Lepidium meyenyii). Food Chemistry, 79(207), 17.
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  • Clément, C., Diaz G., Diego A., Bharathi A., Khan I. A. , et al. (2010). Influence of colour type and previous cultivation on secondary metabolites in hypocotyls and leaves of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walpers). Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 90 (5): 861–869.

Hethir Rodriguez - Certified Herbalist, Nutritionist, Birth Doula

Hethir Rodriguez is the Founder of Natural Fertility Info.com. She is a Certified Herbalist, has a bachelors in Nutrition Sciences and is a trained Birth Doula and Massage Therapist. As a Natural Fertility Specialist, Hethir is dedicated to helping to provide a source for high quality, research based information and support for those on their journey to parenthood.

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  1. Hello and thank you for this program. I am requiring about the Maca Powder System. Would the Black Maca Powder will be best for getting pregnant and or the Yellow Maca Or Red Maca. The three of the Maca Powder has its variety reasonings, but to conceive a healthy baby is my concerns and being healthy with the products. Please email me back and do let me know for sure. I am so excited and ready to start.

    • Dear Mita,

      We suggest the use of the golden or yellow Maca, Lepidium meyenii. Red and black Maca can interfere with healthy thyroid function, something we don’t want to happen.

  2. Can you start to take maca when your not on your period or do you have to initially start when you start your period?

  3. I have been taking maca for 2-3 years – for fertility purposes and now I like it for all the other benefits I have tried to “ween” off over the past few months (my fertility doc wants me off for IVF) and been having horrible hormonal migraines – I have started to slowly start taking it again – any specific tips for cycling on and off maca? If you are going to cycle off is it best to do in the early phase of menstrual cycle when hormones are low? It is hard to find good info on “cycling on and off” and “weening” Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Hi Bella!

      I am not sure “cycling on and off Maca” information or guidance exists to be honest. If your IVF doctor wants you to wean off and be off before beginning medications, this is necessary. How did you weaning when you tried? The information we share for weaning is this: “A good way to wean off of an herb or herbal blend is to take less and less each day, over a week. If you are taking herbs in a capsule form, you could open the capsule, dump a little out and then close it back up and then take it. Do this each day until you are no longer taking it. If you are taking a tincture (liquid extract), take fewer drops each day. Tablets will potentially need to be cut in half. Infusions or decoctions will need to be cut down in cups. So if you are drinking 3 cups a day, cut down to two cups for a few days, then to one and so on.”

      Our herbalists on staff do prefer to guide women to wean off of Maca early in the menstrual cycle. Perhaps this is worth a try. Work to stay hydrated while weaning, consider learning about magnesium for migraines should they happen again and you need support.

      I hope you are feeling hopeful!

  4. I have been taking 1000mg of Maca in tablet form for 1 month for fertility reasons. I read that one should take a break from the Maca. Some resources say take a break every 2 weeks. Others say take it for 3 months and then take a 1 month break. Is this necessary? Or should I just take it until I become pregnant successfully?

  5. Need Maca capsules

  6. This is very powerful to hear how one can get pregnant naturally with that! I would also check out NaPro technology too.:)

  7. Hello Elizabeth! I wanted to ask: I have started taking Maca as well as Vitex, because I have noticed low progesterone levels in my luteal phase. Will these two supplements compliment each other or compete? I started seeing a fertility doctor and discovered that I have an underactive thyroid (I am currently prescribed hormones). Hormone balancing is a priority for me! 🙂 Thank you!

    • Dear Heather,

      Maca and Vitex do indeed complement one another. It is going to be best to ensure your doctor knows you are taking Vitex and Maca and approves. He/she is the only one who can adjust your medication dose should that be necessary as the body begins to rebalance.

  8. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while after having a miscarriage last year and started taking a large teaspoonful of maca daily 3 months ago. I have noticed that my periods have been lighter but longer, but I have also had spotting in between and ovulation has been later (around day 16-18). I have recently gone through fertility testing and my results came back fine but when I asked the consultant about these changes she advised to stop taking the maca. My GP also advised the same thing but neither knew anything about maca. I have pretty much stopped taking it on this advice but have since read that this can be common. I’m just unsure what to do. Is it ok to take less frequently?

    • Dear Anna,

      How have things changed since stopping Maca? General suggested use is 500-3000mg daily, so certainly cut back and try that if you feel you still want to take it.

  9. If I use maca in my smoothies should I still take the pill form?

  10. Hi, since there is still no clinical study on safety of Maca on pregnancy, so it is best to take it up until pregnancy is confirmed? thanks in advance

    • Dear Wendy,

      Maca can be taken until first determination of pregnancy and then slowly weaned off of. It is important to know that so many herbs don’t yet have clinical studies, so if wishing to continue herbs in pregnancy, it is best to do so under the direction, supervision and care of an naturopath, herbalist or midwife.

  11. Should you take maca every day of your cycle or just up to ovulation?

  12. What colour maca is recommended? I have read that red is ideal for women however when I purchased it, the label reads “Red” is ideal for males.
    I have both red and black and a combination of all 3. I figured i will buy one for my husband just not sure which is one is best.

    • Dear Cindy,

      We suggested Lepidium meyenii which is golden Maca. It is often best to choose gelatinzed Maca as well. Gelatinization is a process that removes the starch to prevent digestive upset. There are other varieties of Maca as you have found that have a variety of other colors; red, purple and black. The darker varieties red, purple and black do contain higher amounts of iodine, which may not be good for some thyroid problems; this has not been linked to the golden variety that we use in our FertilicaTM Maca.

    • Could the pills be taken by Males too? Doctor said husband Sperm count is low.

    • Hello Alejandra!

      Yes, males can use Maca.

  13. Should I take Maca even I have period?

  14. Hi,
    I have been taking Maca for almost two months. I have seen an increase in CM and libido, but on my second cycle I ovulated CD 10 and got my period on CD 18. I had been ovulating CD 13 and CD 27 period. Should I stop taking Maca? Thanks!

    • Dear Iris,

      I am glad you have seen changes. Given what I know so far, it may be best to continue Maca to let the body have a bit more time to balance. So many thing scan contribute to cycle shifts and often if the herb/fertility superfood is the cause, the cycle will balance out within 3 cycles of use.