Maca root has a long history of use for sexual problems and infertility in both sexes. This plant grows in Peru and has been used for over 2,000 years for a variety of other conditions as well. It has also been prized as a nutritious food rich in fiber, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Research supports some of its traditional uses, particularly as an aphrodisiac. Like any other natural treatment, you should consult with a qualified health care practitioner before self-treating with maca.
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Male Sexual Health
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center or MSKCC, notes animal and human studies have shown maca might help improve libido in men as well as sperm formation and movement. A study published in a 2002 edition of "Andrologia" found that 40 percent of men who took maca supplements for three months reported an increase in sexual desire at weeks eight and 12. No one in the placebo group reported an increase. Two groups received the supplement: one took 1,500 mg daily and one took 3,000 mg daily. The amount taken did not appear to influence level of desire.
Another study found men who took maca for four months had a significant increase in motility, sperm count and semen volume compared to placebo.
Drugs.com, a website that synthesizes data from official medical texts and journals, explains animal studies have shown that maca might help reduce enlargement of the prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. It appears that maca acts on androgen receptors in the prostate, preventing the binding of hormones that fuel prostate growth.
Often referred to as “Andean ginseng,” maca root has a long history of use for increasing stamina and strength. Drugs.com notes that while these benefits have not been proven, athletes have used maca in place of anabolic steroids for this purpose. MSKCC explains that studies in rats found it improved their endurance.
Toxicity and Dosage
Animal and in vitro studies indicate maca root has demonstrated low toxicity, meaning it is probably a generally safe herb. Standardized therapeutic dosages have not been established however. Most studies have used between 1,500 mg and 3,000 mg daily. Drugs.com notes that most manufacturers recommend 450 mg daily taken with food. Adverse reactions have not been reported.
MSKCC notes little information exists on how maca metabolizes in the body. The way herbs metabolize can affect other medications you might use. Drugs.com warns against use of this herb if you have thyroid conditions; one if its components can trigger reduced thyroid hormone production.