5 Surprising Maca Root Benefits
The benefits of maca root are legendary.
Ancient Incan warriors used it to improve endurance, stamina, and performance before heading to war. After their victory, it would be prohibited in order to protect the conquered women from the men’s increased libido.
Additionally, it’s believed that Incan farmers used maca root to enhance reproductive health in men, women, and livestock.
This use must have been quite effective—the Spanish crown eventually even accepted maca root as a tax form during the colonization of Peru.
Even so, maca root remained largely unknown until Dr. Chacon de Popovici profiled it as a superfood in 1961. Then, as the need for natural remedies skyrocketed in the 21st century, maca root became an international sensation almost overnight.
With the hype came scientists, all interested in understanding what maca root had to offer to separate the hype from the facts.
5 BENEFITS OF MACA ROOT
- Boosts Energy and Performance
- Promotes Endurance
- Enhances Post Workout Recovery
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Facilitates Hormonal Balance
Let’s take a look at what researchers have to say about maca root so that you can make an informed decision concerning its benefits.
1. BOOSTS ENERGY AND PERFORMANCE
It’s believed that maca root can enhance energy and performance. This belief can be traced to the Incan legends in which warriors used maca root when preparing for war.
Interestingly, modern-day studies support this claim.
For example, in a 2016 study, 175 participants were given either 3000 mg of maca root or a placebo for 12 weeks. After the treatment period, 80% of the participants reported a significant increase in energy when given maca root.
In another study targeting performance, eight trained cyclists supplemented with maca root extract for 14 days followed by a one-week washout before taking placebos for two weeks (and vice versa).
The results indicated the performance of participants taking maca root improved significantly from the baseline data.
Although there were no significant differences noted between the treatment and placebo groups, the researchers asserted that maca root could improve the personal bests of athletes when combined with a workout routine.
They also noted that more research involving larger sample sizes and more robust methods is needed to prove or disprove the lack of significant differences between the placebo and treatment groups.
Until then, there’s every reason to believe that maca root is a potent energy and performance enhancer.
2. PROMOTES ENDURANCE
Did you know that Peruvians living in the Andes Mountains often take maca root to build endurance against the physiological stress of living in areas with limited oxygen?
Did you also know that elite athletes practice in high-altitude regions to build endurance and gain a competitive advantage when competing in low-altitude areas?
The question is, can maca root benefit athletes in the same way it has benefited the Peruvians? Can it give athletes and mountaineers with a knack for high altitudes an edge?
The answer is yes.
For instance, in the 2016 study mentioned previously, maca root lowered the hemoglobin levels of participants in high-altitude areas but not those in low-altitude regions.
This difference is vital because an excess of hemoglobin in high-altitude areas can cause chronic mountain sickness.
It also showcases the robust adaptogenic properties of maca root, which can help athletes, bodybuilders, and (newbie) gym-goers adjust to new routines and bypass the adverse effects of environmental stressors.
Although maca’s mechanism of action remains largely unknown, some researchers believe that maca root helps its users build endurance by:
- Facilitating optimal functioning of the body and protecting it from the harmful effects of physical or physiological stressors.
- Reducing the presence of fatigue-causing metabolites, such as lactic acid and ammonia.
- Promoting the use of fatty acids as energy sources, thus allowing the body to endure more intense physical activities with glucose as a backup energy resource.
3. ENHANCES POST WORKOUT RECOVERY
Post-workout recovery is vital because muscle fatigue can lead to various health problems, such as decreased exercise capacity, sleep disturbances, general fatigue, and depression.
As the popularity of maca root as a workout supplement grows, some researchers have taken an interest in finding out whether it can enhance muscle recovery after strenuous activity.
In one laboratory study, male mice were given either macamides or a placebo for two weeks before participating in a weight-loaded swimming test.
Note: Macamides are one of the secondary metabolites of maca root.
The researchers wanted to know how macamides affect endurance capacity. To examine this, every mouse had to pull a lead block weighing about 5% of its body weight via their tail while swimming.
Researchers found out that the mice supplementing with macamides from maca root had lower levels of lactate dehydrogenase, the metabolite responsible for muscle fatigue and damage.
Additionally, they noted that prolonged exposure to strenuous activities leads to high ammonia levels and, consequently, mental fatigue. However, macamides can lower ammonia levels, thus protecting the central nervous system from fatigue.
To our knowledge, though, there’s no study investigating the post-workout recovery benefits of maca root.
However, scientists agree that there’s no significant difference between the internal biology of laboratory test animals, like rats and pigs, and human beings (hence their use in medical experiments that benefit humans).
Athletes seeking a natural supplement with post-workout recovery benefits should try maca root and partake in its benefits.
4. LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
Did you know that living in high-altitude areas increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, which can then lead to cardiac arrest, early aging, and age-related conditions?
Did you also know that maca root can alleviate altitude and age-related blood pressure issues?
For example, a comparative inquiry investigated the differences between maca consumers and non-consumers living in high-altitude areas. Results indicated that the maca group had lower serum interleukin 6 (IL-6) than the non-maca group.
IL-6 is an immune protein that causes fever in acute or chronic inflammation, infection, or trauma. It also induces juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and other age-related conditions.
According to the researchers, the reduced levels of IL-6 could explain why maca-consuming participants had significantly lower systolic blood pressure, improved walking performance, more appropriate testosterone to estrogen ratios, and better health outcomes.
Note: Testosterone may increase IL-6, thus boosting the risk of developing chronic mountain sickness, whereas estrogen is thought to have curative effects.
Although studies on this benefit remain scarce, athletes living in or planning to visit high-altitude areas don’t have to risk high blood pressure. With maca root, they can have profoundly healthy lives.
There’s also hope for low-altitude athletes or people with age-related high blood pressure. Another study on the effects of blood pressure and depression indicates that maca root can lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women.
5. FACILITATES HORMONAL BALANCE
Do hormonal issues stop you from working out?
Is your impending menopause preventing you from hitting the gym and getting your body goals in order?
Well, maca root can come to your rescue.
In a clinical study, 34 women took 1000 mg of maca root or a placebo daily for four months. The results showed that the maca group had significantly less intense or frequent night sweats and hot flashes, better hormonal balance, and lowered cortisol and BMI.
Additionally, another study examining the effects of maca on menopausal women confirms the hormonal balance outcomes mentioned above.
It asserts that maca root doesn’t directly increase the levels of any hormone in the human body. Instead, it may enhance the body’s response to these hormones by boosting their corresponding receptor areas and the overall health of the endocrine system.
These observations are essential because replacement hormonal therapies or medications targeting hormonal imbalances in men and women can have adverse side effects, such as depression, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and cancer.
Instead, balance the effects of your hormones with maca.
VERDICT: IS MACA WORTH YOUR WHILE?
Despite the lack of extensive research on the effects of maca, there is a lot of evidence backing its benefits. These benefits are summarized in the table below:
|EFFECTIVE ADAPTOGEN||Helps the body adjust to physical and physiological stressors|
|STRONG ANTIOXIDANT||Removes harmful radicals from the body|
|HIGH IN AMINO ACIDS||Promotes muscle growth and recovery|
|STEROL CONTENT||Improves endocrine system as a whole|
|LACKS PLANT HORMONES||Lowers the possibility of adverse side effects common in HRT and medications|
Studies have shown that maca root has ample benefits for training and your recovery.
Maca has been shown to:
- Boost energy levels and performance.
- Reduce fatigue causing metabolites to improve endurance.
- Improve posts workout recovery.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Facilitate hormonal balance.
If you're looking to incorporate maca into your training, check out our Plant Protein which has 1,000mg of organic maca root powder.