Having exploded in popularity in recent years, maca root now appears in conversations surrounding polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
And according to recent studies and research, it probably should.
So let’s explore maca root, and how it may benefit any woman who’s suffering with PCOS.
WHAT IS MACA ROOT?
Maca is a Peruvian plant grown in the Andes mountains that is a common ingredient in Peruvian cooking.
It’s said to have an earthy, nutty, butterscotch-like flavour - yum! (if you’re into that).
It belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and cabbage.
However, aside from its culinary uses, maca can also be processed and commercialised as a pharmaceutical because of its organic and biological nature.
In fact, Peruvians have been using maca root as a medicinal tool for centuries either in the form of its natural state, maca powder, or maca capsules.
Traditionally, it has been used to boost fertility, energy, stamina, and sex drive.
This is because of maca’s highly nutritious content; roughly 28 grams of it contains 20 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of fat, 133% of the RDI Vitamin C, 85% of the RDI copper, 23% of the RDI iron, 16% of the RDI potassium, 15% of the RDI Vitamin B6 and 10% of the RDI manganese.
HOW DOES MACA ROOT WORK?
Like ashwagandha, maca is an adaptogenic herb, which can be defined as agents that support the body’s ability to accommodate varying physical and emotional stresses.
Adaptogens are thought to restore balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands; particularly when the body over or under-produces hormones.
This is considered, according to the Whole World Botanicals Report, to be through the plant sterols maca produces, which stimulate the endocrine system.
Within the Report it also states that these sterols improve ovarian, testicular, thyroid and pancreatic function.
Ultimately, if the endocrine system is functioning well, particularly the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, then the effects of PCOS can be lessened.
And that is the goal, of course.
BENEFITS OF MACA FOR PCOS
Maca contains 50+ phytochemicals that are known for balancing hormonal levels by acting on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis.
This helps to explain why its effects in humans are not limited to the ovaries or testes, but also the adrenal glands.
A recent study done by Dr. Gloria Chacon has shown the organs that play large roles in fertility and menopause and PCOS including the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, pancreas, and thyroid, all benefit from the alkaloids found in maca root.
BOOSTS ENERGY, MOOD AND PERFORMANCE
Maca root has been shown to provide sustained energy throughout the day without the “low” that’s associated with caffeine.
This is incredibly important for women with PCOS as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime is critical for long-term management.
Because without energy, it becomes an up-hill battle to stay on top of important lifestyle habits.
Another benefit is that sufficient energy levels correlate with mood:
The more sustained energy you have, the more control you have over your moods, generally.
This means, fortunately, the mood swings hormonal imbalance can create become less frequent and more manageable.
INCREASES LIBIDO (SEX DRIVE)
Maca is also believed to tonify the female reproductive system, support arousal and sexual desire, and may also help with fertility.
It truly is heavily marketed as being effective at improving sexual desire, and this claim is indeed backed by research.
A review from 2010 that included four randomised clinical studies with a total of 131 participants found evidence that maca improves sexual desire.
SUPPORTS ABILITY TO WITHSTAND STRESS
As previously mentioned, maca is an adaptogen herb that helps to support and balance the body.
It is rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids that our body needs during heightened levels of stress.
And that’s what makes it particularly effective - it can support homeostasis (where your body is in a state of equilibrium and balance) during times of stress, when your body can otherwise be experiencing a hormonal roller coaster.
HOW MUCH MACA PER DAY?
Maca can be taken in different forms including powder, liquid, tablets, and capsules.
Although the dosage recommendations slightly vary, a great starting point is 1,250mg per day.
For best results, it’s suggested that you increase the daily dosage gradually within the recommended range (1,250mg-3000mg).
It should always be taken with food, irrespective of which form of maca you prefer.
WHERE TO BUY MACA SUPPLEMENTS
After a substantial amount of research, I decided to provide maca to my clients.
The impact it has on hormonal imbalance just can’t be overlooked, especially for women with PCOS.
Of course, local chemists and pharmacies will sell maca - generally as a powder, which you can add to smoothies and other beverages.
However, we’ve decided to sell maca as a capsule, which can be taken up to twice daily.
Excitingly, our capsules have received a number of positive reviews from women with PCOS.
If you’re interested in supplementing with maca, learn more about Healthy PCOS’ Maca Root capsules.