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   Is Maca the 'new Gingseng'?

                                July 2007


Is Maca the ‘new Ginseng’? 


Maca: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator (Health Learning Handbook)

A new paper to be published by the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing has attempted to evaluate the wide range of pharmacological benefits from the Andean root vegetable Maca (Lepidium meyenii).

Maca is already valued in the West as a ‘superfood’ and an important natural treatment for common sexual health problems such as sexual dysfunction, low libido and low fertility rates, but its benefits are far more wide ranging, and it deserves its classification by many herbalists as an adaptogen, and its nickname of ‘Peruvian Ginseng’.

The root to a healthy sex life

The main interest in Maca for men’s health centres on the fact that it improves both libido and sexual performance without changing serum reproductive hormone levels – which means it can be safely used by men with normal testosterone levels, unlike testosterone therapies, which have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer in normal men.

These benefits have now been confirmed in human trials. In one study, a test group of fifty-six 21-56 year old healthy men were assessed using a self reporting subjective measure over a twelve week period – and reported a 42.2% increase in sexual desire. A second trial, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology – has also confirmed Maca’s libido enhancing properties and a further human study has confirmed its beneficial effects on semen parameters in adult men.

According to the most recent preliminary research conducted in 2006 – it may even help to reverse lead induced damage caused to sperm motility in men. Importantly, it has none of the side effects associated with Viagra™ and testosterone therapy. Maca is also beneficial for women - and appears not only to boost flagging libido, but also to increase fertility - by an as yet unknown mechanism .

Further Clinical research – Maca for all things……

As an additional benefit to both men and women, Maca can also help to combat fatigue and improve mood – probably due to the fact that it contains Monoamineoxidase inhibitors , which are already used in psychiatry for the treatment of depressive disorders and in neurology in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Potent antioxidant

Maca has also been shown to contain nine types of glucosinolates, important antioxidants that are also present in other cruciferous crops – but staggeringly the levels found in fresh Maca are approximately 100 x those of other crops such as cabbage and broccoli!

Maca – Royal Superfood and ‘Ancient Viagra™’

The use of Maca as a ‘superfood’ and pro-sexual supplement stretches back literally thousands of years. Famously, the root was given to Inca warriors before battle to impart strength, but was forbidden to warriors following the conquest of a new city because it was known to increase sexual desire and might promote misconduct towards captured women.

This clearly important crop was also given to the Inca royalty and used to improve the fertility of both people and livestock. The Spanish later considered it so valuable they levied a tax in Maca instead of Gold from the Andean provinces.

Maca – Nutritional Gold

If any food deserves the label ‘superfood’ then it is Maca. This nutritional powerhouse contains high levels of amino acids – including L’arginine, which is known to increase blood vessel dilation and must contribute to its beneficial effect for those with erectile dysfunction. Calcium makes up 10% of maca’s mineral count -which also includes magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphates, silica, and traces of iodine. Vitamins found in Maca include thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) and vitamin C.

Maca is also a source of two alkaloids (Lepidiline A and B), plant sterols (β-sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol) and some important novel compounds which require further analysis – including macaene and macamide – which are believed to contribute to its benefits in areas of sexual performance.

Ongoing research will undoubtedly confirm many more of the historical uses of this incredible vegetable crop – proof if any were needed that food is medicine. Until then, the good news is that Maca is completely safe, and to many people around the world who have used it to help to resolve many personal but highly important problems - it is already worth more than gold.

Rio Peruvian Maca 90 x 500mg vegicaps  R.R.P. ?15.99

If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health and nutrition related articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.



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