Red ginseng and maca are both reputed to be aphrodisiac herbs. The two herbs, in fact, are reputed to have many effects that are similar, including the potential to boost sexual function, improve well-being and combat menopausal symptoms. Maca is sometimes called Peruvian ginseng, while red ginseng is really another name for Asian ginseng. Always consult a doctor before trying a new supplement to boost your sex life or for any other purpose.
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Maca's claim to fame is as a sexual enhancer, says Dr. Ray Sahelian of Los Angeles, author of "Natural Sex Boosters." Many of its compounds affect your central nervous system, Sahelian notes. The zinc, iodine, vitamin C and amino acids it contains all may contribute to its libido-enhancing effects, add Howard Peiper and Nina Anderson, authors of "Natural Solutions for Sexual Enhancement." It may even help alleviate the sexual dysfunction sometimes caused by antidepressants, Sahelian notes.
Asian ginseng is also believed to enhance sexual performance, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. A few studies back the herb's ability to increase sex drive and decrease erectile problems, but more research is needed, note the experts at the center.
Both maca and Asian ginseng are "adaptogens," meaning they are purported to help your body deal with stress, whether mental or physical, which can improve your sense of well-being and quality of life. UMMC notes that people taking ginseng report better sleep, energy and senses of well being. Sahelian notes that maca also improves energy and reduces fatigue—unless you ingest too much of it and suffer insomnia as a result.
Ginseng and maca are both believed to help with menopausal symptoms, say Henry M. Hess and Tiffany Farrell in the book, "The Perfect Menopause." Maca can help with sexual dysfunction, boost energy and help combat night sweats and hot flashes, the authors say. Sahelian notes that maca may help with issues of anxiety and depression as well. As for ginseng, UMMC notes that this herb may improve mood and well being during menopause. However, few studies have examined ginseng for menopausal symptoms, and some studies that do exist found that the herb had no effect, according to the experts at UMMC.