This information describes the common uses of Maca, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Maca-maca, Maino, Ayak chichira, Ayak willku

How It Works

Maca may increase sexual function but it has not been shown to be effective against cancer.

Maca has been used traditionally to improve stamina and sexual functioning. Studies have shown that maca may help to increase libido and improve athletic performance. It may also affect some hormone levels in the blood. Further study is warranted.

Purported Uses

  • To treat infertility
    No clinical trials support this use.

  • To improve sexual performance
    The evidence to support the use of maca in improving sexual function is limited. A few clinical trials showed increase in sexual desire, sperm count, and motility. It may also improve sexual dysfunction cause by antidepressant use or menopause. More studies are warranted.

  • To improve strength and stamina
    A small study suggests it may improve performance in athletes, but more study is needed.

  • To treat cancer
    Scientific evidence is lacking to support this claim.

Side Effects

Unverified possible reactions include: altered menstrual cycles, moodiness, cramps, gastritis and insomnia

Case report

  • Prolonged bleeding outside of regular menstruation and high lab levels of testosterone: A woman in her thirties ingested 1 tsp daily of maca powder dissolved in milk to improve energy and libido. Bleeding began within a few weeks of this regimen and improved after she stopped taking maca. Her high blood levels of testosterone returned to normal 1 month after she stopped taking maca.

Special Point

Maca may interfere with lab tests that measure testosterone levels.