Maca may be trending in local health food stores, but this powerful root has been used in Peru for over 2000 years. Beneficial for most, maca may be especially helpful for women. Maca can help people optimize their health, energy level, and mood. It may even help boost fertility in females.
Maca is an adaptogenic root with use dating back to the Incan period in ancient Peru.
Maca may help support female reproductive health during menopause and aid in fertility.
Maca is a natural energy booster and may help increase mood.
Currently, studies on maca’s benefits are limited and have mostly been done on animal subjects.
What is maca root?
Maca is a root of the mustard family. It’s known as an adaptogenic superfood that can support health by managing stress levels and fatigue. Its use dates back to the Incan Empire in Peru thousands of years ago.
Maca was so highly prized by the Incas that it was credited for the empire's success, taken by warriors before battle, and used as currency. Today, people may not be taking it for battle, but it does help with the stress of everyday life.
Lepidium meyenii, the scientific name for maca, has made it out of the high elevation of the Andes mountains in Peru, where it was originally cultivated, and into many medicine cabinets worldwide.
There are three types of maca – yellow, red, and black. Red and black are fairly rare, while yellow can be found in many, powder, capsule, and extract supplements. Maca can help people feel better overall and may even benefit female reproductive health.
Maca for women: what are the benefits?
Although maca is known for use by Incan men in battle, it can also be beneficial for women in every phase of their reproductive journey, from periods to fertility and menopause. Let’s take a closer look at how maca can help support women’s health.
Currently, there's no available research regarding maca’s ability to help balance menstrual cycles; however, Peruvian women have used it this way for generations
Maca’s potential to balance hormones may help with menstrual regulation and period symptoms like cramps and bloating. It may also help balance stress-related menstrual symptoms, like poor sleep, PMS, and mood swings.
Some people have reported a negative impact on their periods when taking maca. You can jump to the bottom to read more about maca’s potential side effects, primarily on menstruation.
Traditionally, maca has been known as an ingredient for supporting fertility. While some research backs this, studies have only been conducted on mice and rainbow trout, where maca was shown to help improve the number of offspring.
One of these studies focused on luteinizing hormone in female rats, which plays a key role in reproductive health, including ovulation. While these studies don’t necessarily mean maca works the same in humans, scientists believe that maca’s high levels of nutrients may help increase female fertility by mitigating stress and supporting overall balance.
Menopause, the end of a woman's menstrual cycle, can come with symptoms such as hot flashes, lower libido, and mood changes. This is due to a change in hormones, mainly estrogen. Maca has been shown to help decrease menopausal symptoms like mood swings, sleep issues, fatigue, and headaches, and even help with libido. Maca is included in many prominent libido boosting supplements for females.
Estrogen levels drop during menopause, which can affect bone density. This is why osteoporosis is more common in postmenopausal women. Maca may help counteract this without the use of hormone replacement therapy, a standard treatment for osteoporosis.
Are you looking for a subtle, caffeine-free energy boost? Maca can help boost energy levels due to its high nutrient content, which is also great for the immune system. The root is full of vitamins, amino acids, and trace minerals.
Another nutrient that maca is full of is iodine. Iodine is a mineral vital for thyroid function – the gland that helps regulate metabolism, growth, and mood. Thyroid hormones are essential for energy production, which maca may help support.
Before taking maca, ask your doctor if you have a known thyroid condition, as it may cause side effects like goiter and thyroid gland enlargement.
Maca may help you externally as well. The root’s high vitamin C levels can help your skin’s overall health and glow.
Vitamin C can also help with collagen production, which is essential for skin elasticity and preventing signs of aging. Not to mention its ability to help fight free radicals, which can cause inflammation and signs of skin damage like hyperpigmentation. Maca may even help prevent sun damage when used topically.
Maca’s adaptogenic qualities may support mental health by helping the body better manage stress and stress hormones like cortisol. This could help minimize mood swings, naturally lift your mood, and help you feel more balanced overall.
Much of this goes back to hormone health and thyroid function. Maca’s potential to help balance hormones and energy levels may help with mental and emotional well-being. Another way maca may help with mental functioning is by improving cognitive tasks like memory and learning. These everyday tasks seem much easier and more efficient when your energy is balanced and stress hormones are regulated.
Are there any side effects of maca for women?
Although maca may help support women’s health in many ways, it has potential side effects. Some people report experiencing insomnia, mood disturbances, and issues with their menstrual cycle after taking maca. Most people don’t experience maca side effects, except maybe feeling a little jittery.
People with hormone-related health conditions like endometriosis and reproductive cancers should avoid maca. In some cases, maca may increase the occurrence of prolonged and heavy periods, cramps, and increased testosterone levels.
Best time to take maca root
If you want to try Maca, find a high-quality supplement or powder without added fillers. It can be found online and in many health food stores.
Is there a best time of the day to take maca root? Yes, there is. Because of its natural energy-boosting properties, you’ll want to take it in the morning. This could be in addition to or in place of caffeine. Some people claim that maca may help you sleep better, so you can try taking it at night to see what works better for you.
Maca is generally considered safe to consume every day, at least for a short time, like a few months. Doses of up to 3 grams can be taken as a capsule or powder added to drinks like tea, smoothies, or added to snacks like energy bars.
Maca and fertility – bottom line
We understand fertility can be a tender topic for many people, and we don’t want to minimize that through a supplement recommendation. If you’re experiencing difficulties with fertility, you’re not alone, and we recommend seeking support from a fertility specialist.
While maca may help support fertility, it’s important to note that many of the potential benefits of maca have limited studies to back them, and much of the research done on the plant has been on animals, not humans.
Maca is relatively low-risk and affordable, so it may benefit you. Ask your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any underlying health conditions before taking a new supplement.
What does maca do for women?
Maca has traditionally been used to help support women’s health including fertility, menopause, and menstruation, although modern research doesn’t completely back this up. The root has been shown to help decrease symptoms of menopause, and while it may also support women’s menstrual cycles and fertility, studies are limited on this.
Which maca is best for female fertility?
Some research suggests that red maca is the most helpful in supporting female fertility, scientists believe this is thanks to its high levels of nutrients. Although it’s unclear if Maca in general works to support fertility. Most studies have been done on rats, and while promising, that doesn’t mean they transfer to humans.
Can maca cause side effects?
Although not common, maca can cause side effects like nerves, sleep disturbances, and changes to the menstrual cycle. People with certain underlying health conditions like cancer, in the reproductive system or endometriosis should avoid maca, as it may increase the risk of side effects.
- PubMed Central. Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands.
- International Journal of Biomedical Science. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (II) Physiological and Symptomatic Responses of Early-Postmenopausal Women to Standardized doses of Maca in Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multi-Centre Clinical Study.
- National Library of Medicine. Lepidium peruvianum chacon restores homeostasis impaired by restraint stress.
- National Library of Medicine. 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.
- National Library of Medicine. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice.