You might have heard that maca root has the potential to improve your cellular function, benefit your immune system and generally improve health. However, it hasn't been proven safe or effective for use in breastfeeding women, so if you're nursing a baby, you should talk to your doctor before using maca.
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The mammary glands of humans, like those of other mammals, produce milk after the birth of a baby. Cells in the mammary glands make milk from nutrient molecules in the bloodstream, meaning that you need to be very careful about the quality of your diet when you're breastfeeding. While it's less likely that you'd pass a toxin in large quantities to a nursing baby than to a fetus, there's still the risk that toxic compounds could pass through your breast milk.
Some Internet sites and popular media sources have suggested that maca root is an adaptogen, or herb rumored to have the ability to improve immune system function and general cellular health. While maca root has a long tradition as a food source for both people and livestock of the Andes mountains where it's native, there's no scientific evidence to suggest that it has any health benefits to nursing women.
Because maca root hasn't been studied for safety or efficacy in lactating women, you should avoid using it while you're nursing. KellyMom.com, a website run by a nurse and lactation consultant that provides information on breastfeeding, suggests that it's safer to avoid herbs with actual or hypothesized pharmaceutical properties, unless you're taking them under the direction of a physician. Many herbs that might be safe when you're not breastfeeding aren't safe when you are.
While you might be able to find maca root for sale in health food stores, this is no indication that it's safe or effective. The FDA regulates herbs as dietary supplements, and under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, manufacturers don't have to provide proof of safety or efficacy prior to marketing an herb to the public. You should talk to your doctor or your child's pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about using maca root.