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Maca Root / Lepidium Meyenii

Benefits of Maca Root, Overview, Medicinal Uses, side effect and dosage

Maca root is also known as Ginseng Andin, Lepidium peruvianum, Lepidium meyenii, or Gingeng Andin and belongs to the family of Mustard plant and its smell resembles butterscotch.

It mainly grows on the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains thousands of feet above sea level in Peru and has been cultivated as a root vegetable since ancient times around 3000 years. It is cultivated mainly to make medicines to treat various disorders.

This root looks similar to white reddish. The root powder is also used as an ingredient in oils, coffee, or chocolates. In various regions, it is often added to oatmeal and soup, consumed in the form of vegetables, and also added to smoothies, shakes, and juices.

  • Latin name: Lepidium meyenii
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Habitat: It is native to Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia but also has been primarily cultivated in Peruvian Andes.

Morphological Characteristics:

Maca is a plant whose habit, size, and proportions are roughly similar to turnips and radishes but it also resembles parsnip. Its green and fragrant tops are very short that lie along the ground. Its leaves are thin, frilly sprout in a rosette on the soil surface and does not grow more than the height of 12 to 20 cm (4.7–7.9 in).

These thin leaves show a dimorphism as per the reproductive stage of the plant. Hence they are very prominent in the vegetative phase and are continuously renewed from the center because the outer leaves shed up and die.

Its flowers are self-fertile and off-white in color, borne on a central raceme, and are followed by 4 to 5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) silicate fruits. These fruits contain two small reddish-gray ovoid seeds that are 2 to 2.5 mm in size.

This plant is mainly reproduced through self-pollination and is an autogamous species. Its genome has 64 chromosomes. As per experiments with various day lengths, it is a short-day plant. But some researchers consider it an annual plant because in favorable years it can complete one lifecycle within a year.

Its root is a tap root system that forms a rough inverted pear-shaped body. This root may vary in size and shape that may be flattened circular, triangular, rectangular, and spherical that latter forms the largest roots.

Main chemical constituents of Maca Root

P-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, benzyl glucosinolates, (1R,3S)-1-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline-3-carboxylic acid (MTCA), polyphenols,  m-methoxyglucotropaeolin, and Glucotropaeolin

Traditional uses of Maca root:

In the Market, maca is used as a medicinal product and as well as a food source. Its roots are dried, powdered, and then used in baking or can also be added to beverages. Its leaves are also used as a food source because of their pungency, it has a powerful effect on the lining of the stomach. The essential nutrients present in it are natural sugars, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and also has eight essential acids in it.

Ayurveda point of view on Maca root:

As per Ayurveda’s point of view, it has Madhura (sweet), Tikta (bitter), and Katu (pungent) taste and is Ushna (hot) in potency. It has a Guru (heavy) and grounding effect on the mind, spirit, and body. It is vatashamaka (balances vata dosha) and pittakaphavardhaka (Increases Pitta and Kapha dosha). Its actions on the body are nutritive tonic, immunomodulatory and adaptogenic.

Dosage of Maca root:

Maca can be given in the form of powder or capsule and the strength of the active ingredients may vary so it should be started with a smaller dosage ie., from 500 mg – 1 to 2 capsules within a day or 1 to 3 teaspoons of smoothie in a day.

The dosages can be increased or decreased but you should consult your doctor before using them.


Maca root is usually contraindicated in pregnant women and lactating mothers. It can also be contraindicated in hypothyroid conditions.

Health benefits of Maca root:

  1. Maca root promotes a healthy reproductive system and boosts up natural fertility, maintains a healthy hormone level in the body, and also encourages regular menstruation.
  2. It maintains the natural functioning of the brain by providing nourishment to the nerves and maintains balanced emotional levels. It also supports memory.
  3. Being immunomodulatory, it boosts the immune system and helps the body to elicit healthy immune responses against infections.
  4. As a natural digestant, it encourages healthy digestion by supporting regular and easy metabolism of the body.
  5. It provides nourishment to the muscle fibers of the healthy muscles and supports the development of muscles in the body naturally.

Therapeutic uses of maca root:

Reproductive health:

Maca root is used to promote sexual functioning in both men and women and serves as a boost to the libido and increases endurance. It also can balance the hormonal level and increase fertility. It is also considered the best-known herb to improve the quality and quantity of sperm in men who have lower or below normal sperm counts, hence increasing the level of fertility. Being a natural aphrodisiac increases sexual desire.

In females, it also relieves fatigue, treats menstrual problems, and also menopause. It shows good results in PCOS, PMS, heavy or irregular periods, cramping, mood swings, anxiety, hot flushes, depression, etc. During menopause, the main symptom is hot flashes and this root lessens the severity and frequency of hot flashes which is caused due to the hormonal changes in women as it reaches middle age. These are the benefits of maca root for PCOS and Hormonal imbalance.

Skin health:

Maca also treats various skin-related issues that clear acne and blemishes. It also decreases skin sensitivity during hot as well as cold weather and helps the skin fight extreme temperatures.

Hormonal balance:

Maca root is a well-known herb that can regulate hormones. It does not contain its hormones but can encourage the body to produce its hormones by providing nourishment to the master glands (like the pituitary and hypothalamus).


From this article, it is concluded that Maca root is useful in maintaining reproductive health but is contraindicated in pregnant women and lactating mothers. Hence, it should be used in a proper dosage as prescribed by your doctor.


What does maca root do to hormones?

Maca root regulate the hormones and it does not contain its own hormones but can encourage the body to produce its hormones by providing nourishment to the master glands (like the pituitary and hypothalamus).

Does Maca root increase testosterone?

Yes, Maca root increases testosterone in the body by working on the reproductive system.

Who should avoid Maca Root?

Maca root is contraindicated in pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Is Maca Root safe during pregnancy?

No, it is not safe during pregnancy.

Is Maca root good for fertility?

Yes, it is good for fertility.

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Note: Our purpose is to serve useful information related to maca root’s benefits, dosage, and other properties. It is advised to the patients not to consume maca root on the basis of this information. Before taking maca root as a medicine it is better to have an expert opinion because dosage and treatment vary from patient to patient depending on their symptoms and medical history.

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About Dr. Ranjana Kaushal

Dr. Ranjana Kaushal (MD Ayurveda) has 11 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda. Right now she is working as an Ayurveda consultant with Life Aveda. She has immense knowledge about herbs, their uses, and formulations. She has published articles related to many herbs and diseases in an international journal. She is also a degree holder in yoga and naturopathy. Read More..

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