Maca Powder, Super Food of the Andes
Maca root, which contains over 55 naturally occurring, beneficial phytochemicals, works with the body’s natural rhythms to help rebuild weak immune systems, re-mineralize poorly nourished bodies, and increase energy and endurance.
Maca is considered as an endocrine adaptogen. An adaptogen is a substance which works with the body’s natural rhythms to raise the non-specific resistance in an organism and it enables the body to enhance its power of resistance and adapt to external conditions—and it does all of this without any side effects.
The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce chemical “messengers” called hormones essential for normal bodily functions. Once released they flow directly into the bloodstream and are transported to organs and tissues throughout the entire body. Glands that are part of the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, the adrenal glands, thyroid and parathyroid glands, pancreas, pituitary gland, thymus, ovaries and testes. Organically grown maca root is considered by top researchers to be a true adaptogen and one of the best natural ways to regulate and support endocrine health.
Maca does not contain hormones itself. Instead it provides a unique set of nutrients that directly fuel the endocrine system and help the glands to produce vital hormones in precise dosages predetermined by one’s own body.
Many athletes use maca and it has been shown to increase endurance levels. Because it is a vegetable, there are no “drug” restrictions in its use. However, it is not recommended for young male athletes: aside from increasing endurance it also increases libido, sperm count, semen volume and sexual capabilities, and who wants that.
Maca powder is used by some women in South America as an alternative to taking artificial hormones. It is considered beneficial for:
- Energy, by balancing the endocrine system
- Wellbeing, vitality, emotional balance and stamina
- Change of life discomfort such as hot flashes, breast tenderness, sleeplessness, mood swings and brain fog
- Low libido. Maca’s aphrodisiac qualities increase sex drive and may relieve other low libido effects like decreased vaginal lubrication
- General menstrual irregularity
- Healthy fertility. Peruvian women start to take maca at the age of three, then gradually include it as a staple part of their diet. In Peru it is given to livestock to improve fertility as well as improve strength.
Maca’s nutrients affect the body at a cellular level and give it a chance to readjust. It is important to take enough, to take it regularly, and to be patient allowing your body to revitalize at its own rate.
It stimulates the appetite and aids in digestion with its calcium, vitamins B1 and B2, B12, and fatty acids. Its phosphorus is a primary building block in the cell fuels Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and glucose-6-phosphate (G6P). Its sterols, calcium, and vitamin C help build muscle mass and its starches aid in physical endurance. Its alkaloids help the body assimilate all these nutrients just where they are required.
Maca is sometimes referred to as “nature’s answer to Viagra”. According to Garry P. Gordon, MD, founder and president of the International College of advanced Longevity Medicine, located in Chicago, Illinois, “maca is a means of normalizing our steroid hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.”
American Physician Gabriel Cousens, MD, believes this herb has the potential to provide a balanced answer to the effects of aging on the endocrine system. “Whenever possible, I prefer to use maca therapy rather than hormone replacement therapy because HRT actually ages the body diminishing the hormone producing capability of the glands.”
Henry Campanile, MD, a specialist in internal and family/complementary medicine, believes that maca has a balancing and nourishing effect on the adrenal glands. After trying it out on himself, Dr.Campanile began using maca with his patients. “My first patient to take the maca capsules was experiencing hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. She started feeling much better after using this herb for only four days. I’m also employing it with patients who have low adrenal function.”
If you haven’t tried Maca then you need to consider your personal tastes. Maca has a nutty kind of flavour—some people like the taste, while others prefer to take it in capsule form. No matter what form it’s in, though, the beauty of maca is that it is a whole food: unadulterated and pure, just as nature intended food to be.
We put it in shakes, smoothies, hot drinks and sometimes in special cookies to mask the taste as it does have a very unique flavour. I’ve seen it in health food stores, mostly in capsule form but I prefer to purchase it in bulk powder form as it is more economical.
After spending a lot of time in the Andes, traveling through South America for over 2 years I saw native people use many plants for medicinal purposes and maca which grows only at high altitudes in the Andes is a special one that we can enjoy in North America.
Stay tuned for the next article where we will talk about a seed that is a complete protein in itself, loaded with nutrients and grows abundantly in Canada.
Dr. Ed Chicoine, Chiropractor
The information provided is for education purposes only. It`s not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition. If you have health problems, please consult with your doctor or other health professional before you make any major changes in your lifestyle.