Negative Side Effects of Royal Maca

Royal maca is a supplement that manufacturers claim has the potential to promote libido and sexual function in both men and women. The product is primarily comprised of the root of the maca plant, which is native to the mountains of South America. Inhabitants of the Andes are long rumored to have used this plant for its supposed fertility-enhancing properties. However, there are a number of potential side effects which users should be aware of. As with any herbal supplement, consult a health professional’s advice prior to usage.

Ground maca plant in a bowl. (Image: Magone/iStock/Getty Images)

Allergic Reaction

Some users may be susceptible to allergic reactions related to the use of maca. Allergic reactions occur as a result of the body’s immune system releasing antibodies and histamines in reaction to an unfamiliar or foreign substance. When taking maca, these reactions may be of a minor quality, such as itchiness, rash or hives. However, seek immediate medical attention if you experience more serious side effects such as shortness of breath, wheezing, or an elevated heart rate.

Thyroid Issues/Goiter

Maca contains a relatively high concentration of glucosinolates, which are organic compounds composed of glucose and amino acids. In fact, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that maca contains greater amounts of these compounds than other plants in its family, such as cauliflower and broccoli. Glucosinolates can inhibit the thyroid’s gland normal functioning, leading to potential enlargement of the thyroid, a medical condition known as goiter. As such, individuals suffering from known thyroid conditions should avoid products containing natrol maca.

Blood Pressure

Maca may act as a stimulant to the central nervous system in certain individuals, leading to increased heart rates and hypertension. However, there are conflicting claims that ingestion of the maca root can in fact lower blood pressure. As a result, if you are currently being treated for high blood pressure, consult your family physician in advance of starting any sort of natrol maca regimen.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Because maca root is a source of soluble fiber, it can contribute to intestinal issues such as bloating, diarrhea or flatulence when ingested in larger than recommended dosages. Additionally, maca contains specific enzymes that may hinder normal digestive functions in some users.

Drug Interactions

Maca may increase the risk of bleeding when combined with drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, prescription blood thinners and anti-platelet medications. Maca may also alter the balance of sex hormones in some individuals, and may interfere with the intended indications/effects of birth control meds. If you are currently taking any of these classifications of medications, discuss the feasibility of using maca root with an experienced healthcare professional prior to usage.

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