The smoothie powder with oomph?
It has been around for a while, popping up more and more in health food stores around Australia. It's creamy off white colour resembling a soft protein powder. While I don't usually support the addition of 'superfood' powders to a person's diet as I find them pointless if you've already got a healthy diet - this one may actually be useful….
Maca root - (Lepidium meyenii)
An Andean plant of the brassica (mustard) family has been used for centuries in the Andes as an adaptogenic plant to manage anemia, infertility and female hormone balance. It does not work through hormones, and does not increase testosterone or estrogen.
The hypocotyls of maca are the edible part of the plant used for medicinal purposes. It has been described to possess a variety of beneficial properties in traditional herbal medicine but only a few of them have been well studied scientifically.
What it may assist with but requires more research:
- mild erectile dysfunction and sexual desire in (science, more science)
- blood pressure and depression in postmenopausal women (science)
- supportive treatment for menopausal women (science, more science)
- increase sperm count and improve fertility in certain men
- balancing your hormones leading to improved mood* (science and more science)
*Maca has been promoted as an adaptogen - adaptogenic compounds, simply put, means that when the body is out of balance i.e. hormone levels, the compound helps the body to adjust and rebalance. The science behind adaptogens are very limited and more research is needed to work out if they actually do produce these adaptogenic benefits, or if its something else, as well as what potential side effects may be.
Some people say maca helps to improve their acne - I didn't come across one study that proved this to me - but due to the hormone-balancing benefits shown for menopausal women, it wouldn't surprise me if it does help with hormone-induced acne.
How much to take:
The standard dose for maca is 1,500-3,000mg.
Traditionally, maca is treated as a food product, rather than a dietary supplement. Animal studies use 1,000-2,200mg/kg bodyweight doses of maca, which translates into:
- 10.9-24g of the maca vegetable for a 150lb person (68kg)
- 14.5-32g of the maca vegetable for a 200lb person (91kg)
- 18.1-40g of the maca vegetable for a 250lb person (113kg)
Too much too soon has resulted in reported feelings of sickness, illness, foggy head, skin breakouts, etc. So if you do wish to try it, speak with your doctor first to ensure you're not on any other medications or supplements which it may interfere with or produce a double-up effect with, and start with a small dose working your way up.
This post is for informational purposes only and does not in any way take the place of individualised, nutrition and medical advice.