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Maca root: health benefits & uses

Suffering from night sweats or hot flushes? Maybe your libido needs a boost? More and more of us swear by taking maca.

When the menopause hits, it can trigger a hormonal rollercoaster. Around 80% of women experience menopausal symptoms1 including night sweats, hot flushes, joint pain and anxiety.

Our libido can also be affected when we get older, in both men and women. But a traditional remedy could help: maca.

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What is maca?

Maca – often sold as maca root or maca powder – is also known as Peruvian ginseng. It has been used for centuries in the Andes to help improve stamina and fertility.2 The plant is part of the brassica family, like broccoli, and is packed with vital vitamins, minerals, and active plant compounds called glucosinolates.3

Scientists are just beginning to discover how maca benefits our health, but the evidence already points to its positive effect on our hormones.

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Maca can tackle the menopause

Menopause often arrives with a number of uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, vaginal dryness and anxiety. A review of studies carried out by Korean researchers in 2011 concluded that maca had ‘favourable effects’ on menopausal symptoms, but that larger studies were needed.4 An earlier study published in the journal Menopause in 2008 found 3.5g of maca taken every day for six weeks could help relieve the anxiety and low mood associated with menopause. It could also improve sexual desire.5 Handpicked content: How to beat insomnia

Maca can lift libido

Maca root is well known for its positive effect on libido and sexual health. In 2002, researchers from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru reported that men taking at least 1,500mg of maca per day for 12 weeks had increased sexual desire after just eight weeks.6 A clinical review of four studies with over 130 subjects, published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2010, also found there was evidence that maca could boost libido in both men and women.7
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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Sources

1. NHS Choices. Menopause – symptoms. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/
2. Gonzales GF. Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/
3. As above
4. Lee MS, et al. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840656
5. Brooks NA, et al. 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. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18784609
6. Gonzales GF, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472620
7. Shin BC, et al. Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20691074

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