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Woman's Health: Lepidium Meyenni

Lepidium Meyenii – Maca Root

Lepidium Meyenii commonly known as maca root is used by women for menopausal relief of symptoms such as hot flashes and libido problems due to its natural hormonal balancing properties. It is believed to have a wide range of effects that include increased strength and performance, increased sexual desire, improved mental acuity, improvements in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as many other effects.


For centuries, ancient Peruvians have used Lepidium Meyenii (maca root) due to its great health benefits. Lepidium Meyenii was first used over 2000 years ago and now it’s becoming one of the most popular herbs worldwide. Lepidium Meyenii (Maca) contains several alkaloids that are said to “nourish” the endocrine glands, including the pituitary, adrenals, pancreas, testes and thyroid gland. It has many medicinal properties and helps women in menopause. It is routinely used in Peru, and women who have used it their entire lives do not experience the menopausal symptoms that we experience in the west, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and libido problems. In Peru it is eaten either raw or baked, it is an ingredient in flour and can also be used dried.





Maca is exported as powder, capsules, pills, flour, liquor, and extracts. There are different types of maca with different colors ranging from white to black. Studies have been conducted the pharmacological effects of 3 types; yellow, black, and red maca. Evidence from experimental studies indicates effects of maca on nutrition, fertility, memory, and mood. Black maca has better effects on sperm production than yellow maca which has only moderate effects. Red maca, however, has no effect on sperm production. However, red maca has been shown to reduce prostate size in rats in which prostate hyperplasia had been induced with testosterone enanthate; yellow maca has shown moderate effects here, whereas black maca has not shown any effects. Randomized clinical trials have shown that maca has favorable effects on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire.


Lepidium meyenii is a natural hormonal balancer


Studies indicate that Lepidium Meyenii is a natural hormonal balancer and helps the individual in long term by assisting the endocrine system to maintain steroid hormones in healthy levels. Lepidium Meyenii's stimulates the glands in charge of regulating hormones, the pituitary, which controls the ovaries and testes, but also act on the adrenals and on the pancreas and thyroid as well. Of major significance is that Lepidium Meyenii does not contain any hormones, but its action in the body pushes the pituitary into producing the precursor hormones avoiding the dangerous effects of synthetic drug intake like hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Lepidium Meyenii is most commonly used as an aphrodisiac and sexual performance enhancer.



Lepidium Meyenii, for weight loss

Lepidium Meyenii is well known for being an ingredient in many weight loss and weight management supplements. This ingredient has been used throughout history as a medicinal herb as well as in food. Maca is becoming a more and more popular holistic medicine for the treatment of obesity and hormone imbalances. It is in the same family as broccoli and radishes and it quite similar to both of those.


Lepidium meyenii, an excellent HRT alternative

Lepidium meyenii is a well-balanced answer to the effects of aging on the hormonal system. Many women, who have tried estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and have been dissatisfied with it, have received excellent results from their daily use of Lepidium meyenii. Plus, it is healthier to use natural Lepidium meyenii therapy rather than hormone replacement therapy, because differently from Lepidium meyenii, HRT actually ages the body by reducing the hormone production capability of the glands. Lepidium meyenii has proven to be effective with menopausal patients in eliminating menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and depression, as well as other symptoms. Lepidium Meyenii is most commonly used as an aphrodisiac and sexual performance enhancer.





What is Lepidium meyenii?

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian root vegetable used both as food and medicine, a plant of the brassica (mustard) family. It is sometimes called "Peruvian ginseng," not because the plants have any botanical relationship, but because their traditional uses are somewhat similar. Maca has been used for centuries in the Andes as an adaptogenic plant to manage anemia, infertility and female hormone balance.  Preliminary findings show that Lepidium meyenii (Maca) (3.5 g/d) reduces psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and lowers measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity.

Preparations from maca root have been reported to improve sexual function (see studies here). Traditionally, maca has been said to increase energy and stamina, and enhance both fertility and sex drive in men and women.

What are the uses of Lepidium Meyenii?

Antidepressant properties: The antidepressant activity of three ecotypes of maca was evaluated using the forced swimming test.(see Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice.)  Mice that were fed each of three ecotypes for 21 days exhibited reduced times of immobility in the force swimming tests compared to controls (p<0.05).


Antistress effects: A methanol extract of maca administered to rats reduced or abolished several markers associated with stress: stress-induced ulcers, elevated corticosterone levels, the reduction of glucose, and the increase in the weight of adrenal glands. Maca also eliminated the decrease in free fatty-acids (FFA) in plasma produced by stress. Also, positive-results were observed in a forced-swimming test.


Sexual functioning: When the endocrine system is balanced and maintains balanced testosterone and estrogen hormonal levels, Lepidium meyenii improves sexual functioning.

Fertility Enhancement: Lepidium meyenii stimulates each sex to respond in a gender appropriate manner. In females, Lepidium meyenii increases egg follicle maturation and increased the number of follicles. In males, it increases sperm count as well as increased sperm motility.

Slowing aging process:  Lepidium meyenii enables the  body to diminish the effects of aging, especially those caused by hormonal imbalance and free radicals damage.

Increased physical and mental activity: Lepidium meyenii contains complex

carbohydrates for more energy for a sensation of overall wellness; so you will be able to perform more activities.

Better Absorption of Nutrients: Lepidium meyenii not only provide the needed nutrients, but also enhance the body to absorb them from daily foods.
Strengthened Immune system: the nutrients inside Lepidium meyenii make the body strengthen the immune system, which is the main protection against diseases.


Did you know? Maca, a member of the radish family, has been a forgotten herb until recently. However, the indigenous people of Peru have used Maca for centuries for its nutritional and aphrodisiac qualities.



The usual dose of maca is 500 to 1,000 mg three times a day. Menopausal relief has been reported in as little as five days and in most cases it can take up to three weeks for hormonal balancing. The amount used successfully in studies has been 500 to 1,000 mg three times per day of dried root powder in capsules. It is often used in combination with catuaba, marapuama, and yohimbe bark as a natural remedy to enhance male libido.

Safety Issues  

Maca root contains more than 50µg of iodine, which worsens the side effects of thyroid disease. It is also high in glucosinolates, which can cause goiter (swollen thyroid gland with decreased activity) if taken in excess combined with a low-iodine diet. As maca has been used as an herbal remedy for hypothyroidism it is very important that people with thyroid diseases consult their health care provider before consuming maca root in any form. If you are taking Thyroxine, the use of Maca may accelerate the effects; consult your physician regarding the use of Maca. Some people are allergic to Lepidium meyenii, which can result in hives and fatigue.
In the two reported human clinical trials, use of maca has not led to any serious adverse effects. However, this herb has not undergone comprehensive safety testing. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Consult with your physician before taking this or any other supplement.


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1 - Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content
2 - Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review.

3- Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review.

4 - Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial.

5. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice.


6. Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats


7. Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru--from tradition to science.


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