Maca: Peruvian Viagra?

Love pillsWhat is Maca and  why is it considered Peru’s natural Viagra? Maca is a root vegetable much similar in appearance to a radish. This ancient plant is said to have numerous amazing properties which include enhanced energy, increase libido in men, and improved fertility in women.

Peruvian Ginseng (Maca)
Where in the world is it from?

Maca is cultivated in the Junin plateau in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. This region in the Central Highlands of Peru is located high in the mountains at 10,000 to 15,000 feet. This superfood thrives in the tough conditions of the Junin plateau where temperatures plunge below 0 degrees, snow is on the ground in the summer, oxygen is thin in the air and the soil is rocky.

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Maca’s (also known as lepidium peruvianum) history dates back thousands of years. Warrior tribes of the Amazon Jungle cultivated maca as early as 100 B.C. By 147O , maca was an integral part of the diet of the indigenous people. When the Incan civilization defeated and united the Amazonian tribes the root of the maca plant was used to pay homage to Incan royalty. It was so prized for its aphrodisiac properties that its use was reserved for members of high court. Incan warriors used maca for its energy and stamina enhancing properties prior to going to war. Today maca is used in Peru by mountaineers, laborers and athletes for its ability to promote endurance.

How does it work?

This powerful superfood is packed with nutrients. Maca is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B12,C,E, potassium,manganese,iron, and zinc. Substances in maca called macamides and macenes are responsible for its libido enhancing properties.

Small studies reveal a correlation maca use and the reversal of erectile dysfunction. Other uses include treatment of menopausal symptoms, fertility and stress management. Maca is known as an adaptogen. It helps the body become resilient to stress, despite the source of the stressor (cold, heat, trauma,sleep deprivation, psychological distress). There are no known toxic effects of maca, although research on the exact effective dose is limited. (Read

In  one study, men with erectile dysfunction treated with 2400mg of maca extract for 12 weeks showed improved sexual performance and enjoyment. Maca has also been shown to increase sperm count and motility. Although studies have been small, there is some evidence that maca showed an improvement in sexual function and reduction in menopausal symptoms among women.  One study used 3.5 grams of the powder for 6 weeks; another used 2 grams for 12 weeks.  However the studies were very small and further research is needed.

Maca comes in many forms, including as a powder, flour, capsules, pills,and as an extract.  Many recipes use maca in the powder or flour form. Check out some great recipes below!

Maca Recipes

 Maca Macaroons

macamacaroons

Recipe adapted from Superfood Kitchen: Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods (Superfood Series) by Julie Morris

1 cup raw brazil nuts 
3/4 cup medjool dates-pitted (about 7-8) 
1-1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut plus extra for coating 
1 tablespoon maple syrup 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon sea salt 

Place all the ingredients in the food processor. Mix all the ingredients together in the food processor until a coarse dough
is formed. The dough should stick together when pinched. If the dough is too dry , add water a teaspoon at a time until the
dough sticks . If the dough is too wet add a spoonfuls of extra coconut until the dough is just right. Form the dough into balls,
about a tablespoon at a time, and roll exterior in the extra coconut.Flatten into cookies and serve. The cookies may be 
stored in Tupperware in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

 

Maca Latte (delicious dairy free coffee replacement) Hot chocolate in a cup isolated on white

Recipe adapted from The Delicious Revolution 

3/4 cups raw almonds
3 cups water
1 tablespoon virgin pressed coconut oil
1 tablespoon raw vanilla
2 teaspoons maca powder
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder (another powder made from a root, also with anti-inflammatory properties)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
dash of Himalayan sea salt
Can add dash of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Adjust honey more or less based on desired sweetness.  

Place water, almonds and coconut oil in vitamix and blend until a smooth consistency almond milk is formed (about a minute). Mix in the remaining ingredients 
and blend in vitamix for another 1-1/2 minutes until latte is frothy and is of desired warmth. Makes about four 6 ounce cups.
 

Check out other maca recipes on feastie.com

 

Research

Brinkman J, Smith E. Maca Culture of the Junín Plateau. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. June 2004, Vol. 10, No. 3: 426-430

Valerio LG Jr, Gonzales GF. Toxicological aspects of the South American herbs cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) and Maca (Lepidium meyenii) : a critical synopsis. Toxicol Rev. 2005;24(1):11-35. Review.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042502

1: Gonzales GF, Gonzales C, Gonzales-Castañeda C. Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru–from tradition to science. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009 Dec;16(6):373-80. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20090350

Zenico T, Cicero AF, Valmorri L, Mercuriali M, Bercovich E.  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. Andrologia. 2009 Apr;41(2):95-9.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19260845

Lee MS, Shin BC, Yang EJ, Lim HJ, Ernst E. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Maturitas. 2011 Nov;70(3):227-33. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.07.017. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840656

 
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    […] Maca, known as Peruvian Viagra, is grown in the Andes Mountains. Small studies reveal that maca may help with erectile dysfunction. In women, maca may help with sexual function, treatment of menopausal symptoms and fertility.  Maca comes as a flour or powder and can be used in a number of delicious drinks, desserts and other recipes. […]

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