In scientific study on 168 caucasian menopausal women Maca was found to be an effective natural alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). In the words of the scientists, doctors and PhD researchers involved in the study Maca was
“superior to HRT in terms of all the additional benefits (…) not delivered by HRT programs or phyto-estrogenic preparations” for menopausal women. 2.
The study used 2 x 500 mg capsules twice daily with meals (total 2 g/day) during three and four months study periods.
What menopause symptoms was it proven Maca relieved?
1. Reduced both frequency and severity of menopausal symptoms especially:
- hot flushes and night sweating (with a significance for the science geeks like me of P<0.001)
- loss of libido/interest in sex.
2. Increased ‘good’ cholesterol high density lipoproteins (HDL) (P<0.05).
So how long did it take to get these results?
At the 2 month mark there was a distinctive reduction in severity of symptoms which in the words of the scientists allowed for “magnifying the positive results already observed after one month of treatment”.
What do other scientists and doctors think of Maca?
Four random, placebo controlled trials tested the effects of Maca on menopausal symptoms in healthy peri-menopausal, early post-menopausal, and late post-menopausal women and all favorable effects of Maca on menopausal symptoms. 1.
Another high quality systematic review of Maca found it consistently caused a significant positive effect on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in healthy menopausal women. 3.
Any bad news about Maca?
A systematic review of Maca highlighted:
1. As it is thought Maca increases oestrogen levels it should be avoided by women who have oestrogen sensitive conditions including cancers or a strong family history of these.
2. One argument for using Maca for the management of menopausal symptoms might be that it causes fewer adverse effects than conventional drug treatments, however, whilst none of the trials noted any adverse events among Maca users a specific study on adverse events has not been undertaken.
3. Only a small number of trials on Maca have been performed and with a relatively small number of people.
So what is Maca?
It’s a plant native to Andes of Peru. It was used traditionally in South America to treat infertility and imbalances in female hormones. The trial quoted above used a formulation called pre-gelatinized organic Maca so if it is those results you are after it’s that product you need to use. However, a lot of people start their Maca journey with the widely available and inexpensive Maca powder. Here is a delicious recipe using Maca powder http://www.superfoodliving.com/maca-superfood-energy-bars
Final word on Maca
And let’s give the final word to the scientists:
Sonia McNaughton Naturopath & Medical Herbalist
1. Lee, M. S., Shin, B. C., Yang, E. J., Lim, H. J., & Ernst, E. (2011). Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Maturitas, 70(3), 227-233. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.07.017
2. Meissner, H. O., Mscisz, A., Reich-Bilinska, H., Kapczynski, W., Mrozikiewicz, P., Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T., … & Barchia, I. (2006). Hormone-balancing effect of pre-gelatinized organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon):(II) physiological and symptomatic responses of early-postmenopausal women to standardized doses of Maca in double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multi-centre clinical study. International Journal of Biomedical Science: IJBS, 2(4), 360. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614647/
3. Shin, B. C., Lee, M. S., Yang, E. J., Lim, H. S., & Ernst, E. (2010). Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: A systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative medicine, 10(1), 44. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-44