Recently got hooked on the natural herb treatment bandwagon and pondering whether or not you should try Maca root powder? Let’s list a couple main benefits claimed by the general herbalist community and the supplement companies, and investigate a little bit on the veracity of such claims.
The main benefits promoted by supplement companies
Here’s what you will normally find on the websites and packing labels of supplement companies regarding to maca.
- Increases stamina and energy;
- Balances the hormonal system;
- Supports male and female reproductive health.
Those you will hear from the natural herbs community and users
This is somewhat similar to above, with a little twist maybe.
- Increased libido, aphrodisiac;
- Calms your body and mind;
- Increased focus and well-being, anti-depressant effect.
But does a little herb like maca do all that, or is it all baloney?
Because we can’t trust supplement companies and random people on internet forums, let’s check a few independent studies.
Increased libido, sexual desire, etc.
Here’s a study published on pubmed a while ago on the effects of Maca (lepidium meyenii) on sexual desire and serum testosterone levels in adult men. A group of subjects between 21 and 56 years old received a 1,500 mg dose, another group received a 3,000 mg dose and the last group received placebo. The conclusion after this 12-week study was that Maca extract, in both doses of 1,500 and 3,000 mg did increase sexual desire in men, compared to those who received placebo. Take note that this kind of dosage does fit in the normal recommended dosage. I’m stressing that because there are some shady studies done where they give either abnormally low or high dosages to force a desired outcome, depending on what this desired outcome is. On the other hand, the subjects all groups showed no increase in serum testosterone levels at the end of the study.
Supports male and female reproductive health
Here’s another study from pubmed library about the effects of maca on serum reproductive hormone levels in men (that means not only testosterone). They tested the levels of :
- luteinizing hormone;
- follicle-stimulating hormone;
- 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone;
- testosterone and 17-beta estradiol.
The 12-week study again showed no effect on any of these hormones, both in maca treated subjects and the placebo group.
Well, this is pretty much where scientific evidence ends. Not many studies (if at all) were conducted on the effects of maca on depression, relaxation and energy levels. As for the reproductive health, a few studies done on rats have shown improvement on semen quantity and quality… but not in men. Since we’re not rats I guess that doesn’t apply to us.
The conclusion : does Maca extract work?
The scientific evidence :
- Maca improves sexual desire in men;
- Maca does not increase testosterone levels;
- It does not increase reproductive hormone levels.
Well that’s one point on the scoreboard for Maca. It does enhance sexual appetite in men. Woot! But concerning other claims, such as anti-depressant effects, calming, confidence, etc… there are not many serious studies out there on this effect and you’re either going to have to try for yourself or rely on the opinions you can read on forums. I guess there’s no harm in that, because after all Maca is a natural herb and I’d be more willing to try that than any other pharmaceutical SSRI. If you browse forums such as longecity, bodybuilding forums and reddit please take note that most people on there discussing supplements are often times stacking a bunch of them together. It is then really hard for them to give you a meaningful opinion because of the effects caused by all the other supplements they’re taking. Even without any supps I find it hard to point out any changes in mood, concentration, energy, libido, etc because so many factors in your personal life can affect them : sleep, stress at work, exercise, sun exposure, nutrition, and so on.
My personal experience when taking Maca
I’m probably going to write a more detailed post on this topic but here’s a short summary of the effects Maca gel pills had on me. I took an average of four 500 mg pills a day of Maca root for a couple months straight. I can’t tell you if it increased concentration and had any relax effect what so ever for the reasons mentioned above but there’s one thing I can tell you for sure and many people have the same opinion. This herb does increase the blood flow to the phallus. How? I don’t know but I’ve definitely felt it. A bigger size of the thing when resting, plus harder erections in bed. I wouldn’t necessarily call that enhanced libido but it for sure made me think about dirty things all day.
If any of you have tried it I’d be glad to hear your opinions on this herb.