- ayak chichira
- and ayak willku
For Patients & Caregivers
Bottom Line: Maca may increase sexual function but it has not been shown effective against cancer.
Maca root is in the same family as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Maca has traditionally been used to improve sexual performance and as a treatment for infertility. Studies have shown that maca is able to improve sexual performance, however it does so without affecting serum hormone levels in the blood. Further study is warranted.
- To treat infertility
No clinical trials support this use.
- To improve sexual performance
A few clinical trials showed increase in sexual desire, sperm count and motility.
- To improve strength and stamina
This use is not backed by research.
- To treat cancer
Scientific evidence is lacking to support this claim.
A systematic review was conducted to determine the effectiveness of maca for the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Seventeen databases from the date of their launch until April 2010 were searched for randomized clinical trials. Of the four studies selected for the review, two suggested a significant positive effect of maca on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in healthy menopausal women or healthy adult men. The third study did not show any effects in healthy cyclists. The fourth trial was done to study the effects of maca in patients with erectile dysfunction and it showed significant effects.
For Healthcare Professionals
A nutritionally valuable plant native to Peru that grows in a harsh climate above 4,000 feet, maca has been used traditionally to enhance fertility and sexual performance in both men and women and to relieve menopausal symptoms (1). It has been purported to treat cancer and to improve stamina in cancer patients.
Animal studies indicate that maca increases endurance (6), enhances sexual function (2)(5) and improves scopolamine-induced memory deficits (14).
Human trials of maca reported increased libido (3) and improvement in sperm production and sperm motility (4). Maca supplementation was also shown to enhance the subjective feeling of sexual well-being (11) and may benefit those with sexual dysfunction induced by selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (12). However, the evidence to support use of maca for sexual dysfunction is limited and needs further research (13). The data on maca’s role in alleviating menopausal symptoms are limited (15).
Another review indicates that maca is not an effective anti-aging agent (16).
Dried maca was shown to have lower content of the suspected active metabolite than fresh maca. It is also available as a liquor, tonic and mayonnaise, although health benefits of these derivatives seem minimal (7).
Maca root contains far greater amounts of glucosinolates than other members of the Brassicacae family, such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Fertility-enhancing properties of maca are thought to be due to aromatic isothiocyanates hydrolyzed from these glucosinolates. Furthermore, benzyl isothiocyanate has been reported to inhibit breast, stomach and liver cancer in rats. Aphrodisiacal properties are attributed to the prostaglandins, sterols and amides of polyunsaturated fatty acids (7). Althought both methanolic and aqueous extracts of Maca exhibit estrogenic activity in vitro (10), maca does not affect serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, testosterone and estradiol in humans (4)(9). Alkaloids purified from the maca root are thought to affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, explaining why maca can induce effects in both sexes (6).
Shin BC, Lee MS, Yang EJ, Lim HS, Ernst E. Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Aug 6;10:44.
This review was conducted to determine the effectiveness of maca for the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Seventeen databases from the date of their launch until April 2010 were searched for randomized clinical trials. The risk of bias for each study was assessed using Cochrane criteria, and statistical pooling of data was performed where possible. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validations were performed independently by two authors. Four studies met the inclusion criteria, two of which suggested a significant positive effect of maca on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in healthy menopausal women or healthy adult men. The third study did not show any effects in healthy cyclists. The fourth trial assessed the effects of maca in patients with erectile dysfunction using the International Index of Erectile Dysfunction-5 and showed significant effects.
The evidence to support use of maca in improving sexual function is limited. More studies are warranted.