Have you heard about maca? For a long time, I knew of it, was vaguely intrigued by it, but had never got around to actually getting some. However, when the lovely Ekaterina at Organic Burst sent me some over to try…well, that was that. I”m now a bona fide maca fiend – I can”t remember how I used to start my day without it. And I say this with complete, unincentivised honesty – this is NOT a sponsored post and there are NO affiliate links.
Now, I”d like to tell you all exactly why I love maca so much, but as far as the science behind it goes, my expertise is limited. Luckily for me, Organic Burst”s resident naturopath, Veronique, has kindly put together a fantastic guest blog about why maca is the greatest thing since (gluten free) sliced bread. Here”s what she has to say…
Maca is known as a mysterious superfood of the Inca tribe. It’s recently been gaining a lot of attention for its effectiveness in supporting energy, stamina and libido and balancing hormones in both women and men. Let’s find out what it really is and how it works for your body.
What is it?
Maca is a root vegetable, which looks like a large radish, from the same botanical family as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radish and turnip. Maca is yellow, purple, red or black in colour. The multi-award winning UK brand Organic Burst uses a unique blend of all four varieties for their maca combining the benefits of all four.
Maca grows in the harshest farmlands in the world – on top of Andes Mountains over 4000 meters above sea level, where scarcely any other crop plant can grow. The mountainous volcanic soil where it comes from is rich in minerals, thus making maca a valuable nutrient-dense food source. Some people say rather poetically that, because it grows under such extreme conditions, exposed to intensive sunshine, high winds and frost, it passes onto us its strength and resistance.
Native Peruvians and more especially the Incas were already using it centuries ago to give vitality and fortitude to their troops and they used to give it to newly married couples as well so nothing has changed there!
Balancing female hormones
Going a bit more into details on the hormonal issues, when we think about hormones, we automatically think about female hormones. If you think of any way a woman”s body, mind and emotions can be affected by a hormonal imbalance, maca has the potential to help.
From very “normal” monthly symptoms like cramping, mood swings, tearfulness, heavy bleeding, breast tenderness, breakouts, to more severe symptoms think of including maca in your diet. It has a track record of being useful for hormone-related issues that women may have during various stages of life: for acne during puberty, PMS symptoms in adulthood, potential fertility issues in their late 30s/early 40s, right down to the peri-menopause, the menopause itself and finally older age.
Maca is also highly recommended during breastfeeding for increasing milk production, improving the quality of the milk and helping to prevent post-natal blues.
Additionally, you may want to add maca to your diet if you have conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis and osteoporosis. In each case you need to consult your doctor or a naturopath so they can advise you on a complete treatment plan for your particular condition.
Helping not only women
Maca is an adaptogen, which means it can help balance, strengthen and support any area of the body under compromise due to stress. Stress is known to have a negative effect on libido, fertility, sperm count and mobility, symptoms of menopause, PMS, etc. Adaptogens support and help restore the adrenal glands – also known as the stress glands – to normal. This helps restore hormonal balance and therefore energy, stamina, libido, sexual function, immune function, mental clarity and reduce the mollinebonus other negative effects of stress.
And that is why maca works beautifully not just on balancing female hormones but also on supporting the whole endocrine and glandular systems in the body in both men and women.
The implications of that are:
Maca also helps regulate testosterone in the body which can help give men a little boost in the bedroom, but also, on a more serious note, help boost your chances of conceiving. Maca has been shown to increase sperm count and mobility. So, if you are trying for a baby, both of you should take maca.
It can help reduce cortisol levels in the body. High cortisol level is a sign of stress and, if left to get out of control, high cortisol levels may lead to adrenal fatigue.
Maca helps replenish adrenal glands, which is how it helps boost energy levels and give us the stamina and endurance to keep going. Not only great for when were run down after a week at the office but also if you work out it may help improve your physical performance.
It has a beneficial effect on our insulin levels. Going back to the female hormones, with a condition like PCOS, it is not just the female hormones, which are involved, but the testosterone and insulin will also be out of keel so maca is definitely worth a go.
It has been shown to bring thyroid activity back to normal, if underactive, so it may prove particularly useful if you are low in energy or if your metabolism is playing up. If you have an overactive thyroid however, it is best not to take maca because of its high iodine content.
Maca has not only been a favourite superfood of the Peruvian people, it has also been enjoyed by raw foodists, vegetarians, adventurers, extreme athletes, dessert chefs, and food alchemists. Now that maca is finally available outside Peru, it is poised to become a major botanical product on the international superfood and herbal scene. What will it do for you?
Veronique Soignot, BA Hons, NT Dip CNM.
Resident Naturopath at Organic Burst superfoods