Maca of the Andes for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Maca from the Andes is a food used as a restorative remedy against fatigue. Let’s see what its properties are and how to use it.

Maca of the Andes is a plant of the Brassicaceae family whose root is rich in nutrients and active ingredients that are beneficial to health.

What is Maca

Maca of the Andes is the root of a herbaceous plant of the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family.

The botanical name of the Andean maca is Lepidium meyenii , but in the texts it is also indicated with the synonym Lepidium pervianum .

It is commonly called:

  • Peruvian Maca
  • maca from the Andes;
  • Peruvian ginseng.

Other names by which it is possible to find it is red macaAndean misses and, in some cases, also maca grass although it is not a herb.

Maca root , similar to a beet, is used for food and as a herbal remedy thanks to its properties.

Properties of the Andean maca

Maca root from the Andes has properties:

  • Tonics;
  • stimulants;
  • adaptogen;
  • anxiolytic.

The properties of maca are exploited above all in cases of asthenia and excessive physical and mental stress but the plant is also used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, benign prostatic hyperplasia and male infertility.

Sexual effects also seem to affect women, who often experience increased desire following the administration of Maca-based supplements.

What is Maca used for

The Peruvian Maca root is used for food by the Peruvian Andean populations as it is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, essential amino acids and minerals.

The therapeutic use of the Andean maca is instead due to the content in essential oil, glucosinolates, alkalodes, sterols and macamides which confer properties and benefits to the root.

The root is therefore used to obtain maca powder or maca extract which is then used to make capsules or tablets.

Benefits of Maca

The root of the Andes contains all essential nutrients for our body, including essential amino acids and mineral salts – in particular calcium and potassium – but also carbohydrates, fibers, fatty acids and vitamins. It is therefore a food with a high nutritional value.

The benefits of maca for health include the tonic action, to be exploited in case of physical and mental fatigue, to improve resistance to stress and performance in study, at work and in sport.

Furthermore, we find benefits of maca for men : taking this root seems to be able to increase the number and motility of spermatozoa, improving fertility, counteracting erectile dysfunction and reducing the size of the enlarged prostate.

Finally, the beneficial effects of maca for women include hormonal regulation with beneficial action on libido and menopausal disorders, including the manifestations of anxiety and mild depression that can occur during this period

How to use it and how to take it

The daily dosage of maca is between 1.5 and 3 grams of root to be administered in a single dose or in several daily doses, generally in the form of capsules or tablets.

How long does it take for Maca to take effect

The beneficial effects of Peruvian maca can be appreciated after about two weeks of use.

Contraindications of the Maca of the Andes

The use of maca is considered safe but not suitable for everyone. Among the contraindications of maca we find, in addition to allergies and hypersensitivity to the plant, pregnancy and lactation, liver diseases, hormone sensitive tumors and diseases, arterial hypertension.

Regarding the contraindications for hypertension , we also report the possible interaction between maca and hypotensive drugs (it can reduce their effectiveness).

Maca side effects

Peruvian maca does not cause particular side effects at therapeutic doses.

Description of the plant

The maca plant is a small perennial herb with a tuberous root about ten centimeters long, varying in color from yellow to dark red.

The leaves of the maca grow at ground level and the flowers are small and yellow.

Habitat of the Andean maca

Maca is native to the Andes mountain range of Peru and Bolivia. It grows at an altitude of 3000-4500 meters in impossible conditions: very strong winds, extreme temperature range (from the intense heat of the morning to the freezing cold of the night), sub-zero temperatures and very intense sunlight, on very poor and rocky soils.

In this hostile zone, where there is little oxygen , there are rare vegetations; only bitter potatoes and Maca grow. There are no trees, only plants of low height.


In the pre-Columbian tribes of Peru, as demonstrated by numerous archaeological finds, maca was considered a gift from the gods and used for food and religious ceremonies During the Inca Empire it was used to give strength and vitality to the troops

Friar Antonio Vásquez de Espinoza in a description of the year 1598 mentions the consumption of this plant by local populations, who used it as a strong tonic aphrodisiac , capable of increasing sexual desire both in men and in animals, and of promote fertility; after the conquest of Peru, the colonizers ended up using it as a tax.

Starting from the 1980s , research began to show interest in this tuber and its therapeutic properties.

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