Maca, an Ancient Nootropic
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a herbaceous biennial plant that grows above 4000 altitude meters in Peru’s Central Andes. Maca is studied because its effects on sexual function, spermatogenesis, female reproductive function, memory, depression and anxiety; and energy as well as effects on benign prostatic hyperplasia, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome. Its anti-aging effect is also discussed as well as safety in consumption.
Thus, maca has different varieties according to the colour of the hypocotyl. Black maca shows the best results on spermatogenesis, memory and fatigue, while red maca is the variety that reverses the benign prostatic hyperplasia and experimentally induced osteoporosis. In addition, general maca reduces the glucose levels, and its consumption is related to the lowering of blood pressure and an improved health score.
In this study, a mixture of extracts from Peruvian plants (black maca and yacon) improved sperm count and reduced glycemia in mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Furthermore, this double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root found it useful for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Again, black Maca appeared to have more beneficial effects on latent learning in OVX mice; meanwhile, all varieties of Maca showed antidepressant activity.
Another traditional use of maca is to enhance female fertility and sexual function. Indeed, Maca uniquely enhances the LH serum levels of pituitary hormones in female rats during the pro-oestrus LH surge and acts in a pharmacological, dose-dependent manner. Another double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women confirmed these results even in postmenopausal women.
Moreover, Maca does not exert hormonal or immune biological action; however, it appears to reduce symptoms of depression and improve diastolic blood pressure. Thus, preliminary findings show that Lepidium meyenii (3.5 g/d) reduces psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and lowers measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity.
Experimental studies have proven that short and long term consumption don’t show in vivo and in vitro toxicity, making maca a natural, scientifically proven safe and accessible supplement.