Is your love life
limp of late? Feeling like your sex drive needs a tune-up? Maybe you
don't need candlelight, incense, oysters, or zinc. Maybe what you—or
your mate—needs is maca.
A tuber used much like our potato, and the only crucifer (like broccoli
and cabbage) native to the Americas, maca is the food staple of natives
to the Peruvian highlands. To lucky Andeans: Maca is packed with nutrition,
and has been known to improve sexual endurance, energy, and performance.
No kidding!—research shows that maca increases the reproductive
rates and raises the sperm count and semen volume. In human studies, it
has been known to improve both erectile and ovarian function.
of a Sexy Plant
When Spanish explorers arrived in Peru during the 16th century, they
noticed that their livestock—particularly their horses—were becoming
weak and unable to reproduce. This was probably due to the altitudes of
the Peruvian highlands, an area where mountain reach 15,000 feet. Such
high altitudes can cause female animals to produce inadequate amounts of
estrogen, hampering fertility.
The Incan diet of the time consisted largely of maca.
They used both tubers and tops, but especially tubers. The Incas advised
the Spaniards to feed maca tubers to the ailing and infertile horses. So
impressed were the Spaniards with the recovery of their animals, and the
strength and virility of the Incan people, that reports back to the
royal court included raves over this humble tuber, and maca soon became
a valuable commodity.
Today, Maca's reputation as a natural way to boost virility and
fertility is growing fast in North America. In a November, 1998 issue of
the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, which includes
numerous kudos for the plant's effects on sexual function, Gary Gordon,
M.D., past president of the American College for Advancement in
Medicine, calls maca nature's answer to Viagra. "I personally
experienced an improvement in erectile tissue response," he says,
attributing the effect to changes in steroid hormones. "Maca acts
on men to restore them to a healthy functional status," says
Gordon. Maca Improves Sperm Count
(Adobe Acrobat is required)
Peruvians claim that maca improves memory,
combats anemia, and fights depression. Some researchers note that when
the body is well-nourished, libido rises and depression abates; maca's
nutrient value could explain some of these purported actions. The root,
which tastes like butterscotch when it's roasted like a potato, can also
be prepared into jam, broth, puddings, and juices, and contains five
times more protein than a potato, four times more fiber, and less fat.
It contains linoleic and oleic oils (two types of essential fatty acids)
and essential amino acids (see "Maca's Make-Up").
Maca's actions on sexual function are better researched than its
effects on mood and memory. A 1961 study showed that maca increased
fertility in rats. Then came studies of guinea pigs, rams, and cows,
each of which corroborated maca's fertility-enhancing effects. For
example, maca significantly increased ram semen volume and sperm count. ORDER
At The National University Of Agriculture, La
Healthy Alternative, LLC
have considered plant sterols, isothiocyanates, and glucosinolates to be maca's
active constituents. The sterols have been shown to reduce cholesterol;
this can positively affect erectile response if erection is compromised
by artery clogging fats. And the isothiocyanate p-methyl benzyl has been
shown to increase fertility in humans. Advance word has it that animal
research will soon be published in a major medical journal that
identifies maca's secret agents of sexual desire and energy.
The actions of four alkaloids from the maca root also serve to
increase fertility enhancement dramatically. One of the researchers heading current
studies on maca, Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacon de
suggests that maca alkaloids act on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis and
the adrenals. These areas of the body produce hormones as well as
energizing substances like adrenaline. The end result could be an
increase in energy, vitality, and virility. Still, no studies of maca
itself have been conducted on human sexual response, despite physicians'
claims that maca positively affects ovarian function in women (see
"Maca and Menopause"), and, as mentioned previously, erectile
function in men. Also see Maca's Nutrional
may someday be pivotal in the fight against cancer. Although maca
remains untested against cancer, the glucosinolates and isothiocyanates
it contains are among those known to have anti-cancer actions.
It an Aphrodisiac?
Whether or not maca is an aphrodisiac or enhances libido is equivocal.
These actions are difficult to analyze scientifically because they
relate to desire—not function. But if it's true that "form
follows function," then maca is a good start. ORDER
For a full report on maca, please visit Maca
Sexual Booster in
the Medicine section of our library. (Adobe Acrobat is required).
• Johns, T. The
anu and the maca. J Ethnobot 1(1981): 208-212.
• Leon, J. The "maca" (Lepidium meyenii), a little
known food plant of Peru. Economic Botany 18 (1964): 122-127.
• Chacon, R.C. Estudio fitoquimico de Lepidium meyenii.
Dissertation, Univ., Nac. Mayo de San marcos, Peru.
• Dini, A., et al. Chemical composition of Lepidium meyenii, Food
Chemistry 49 (1994): 347-349.
• Walker, Morton, DPM. Medical Journalists Report of Innovative
Biologics: Effects of Peruvian Maca on Hormonal Functions, Townsend
Letter for Doctors & Patients, November 1998