If I told you that you could add one single plant to your diet and you could see a wildly improved menopause experience — from hot flashes to weight gain…would you eat it? Well, today I’m going in-depth on that one plant: maca! And we’re answering the big question I often get about maca root: what does it do?
In this article, I’m exploring my favorite adaptogen and talking about how maca can help you in menopause.
Let’s take a look at maca root, the powerful nutrients it contains, and the science behind this amazing plant.
What Is Maca Root?
Maca root’s scientific name is Lepidium meyenii, and it’s sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. (1)
I first discovered this plant in Peru, as it is native to the high Andes. Maca is a vegetable, kind of like broccoli or cauliflower. But its root is what’s prized for consumption and medicinal purposes. In Peru, maca is eaten in copious quantities, by men, women, and children.
In South America, maca root has been cultivated for thousands of years. Maca root has played a significant role in indigenous Andean culture. The Incas used maca in rituals and even as a form of currency. They believed maca could enhance energy, stamina, and fertility — and it’s still treasured and revered as a remedy for just about every possible ailment there.
Maca is generally regarded as a treatment for both male and female sexual virility. You’ll find that pretty much any couple with difficulty conceiving in Peru consumes maca constantly until they’re pregnant.
When I was visiting there, any sort of discomfort was met with “Have you taken some maca?” It really is that popular.
These days, maca has begun to make its way out of Peru and into the global mainstream, and with good reason. Let’s explore some of the benefits of maca, especially for women, menopause, and hormone balance.
What Are The Benefits Of Maca Roots?
Maca root’s health benefits start with its powerful nutritional profile. It’s got plenty of protein and fiber. And it's packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper, calcium, and iron. Additionally, maca contains various bioactive plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols. (2,3)
There are several other potential benefits of this root. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Maca Root For Menopause
At the top of the list of maca root benefits for women is maca’s powerful menopause support. (4) I’ve personally been using maca as a hormone-balancing superfood for myself and my patients for many, many years.
Here’s why I love it so much.
Maca Root Hormone Balance
Maca has this incredible ability to balance out your hormones and support your body without raising your estrogen levels. (5) And it’s also energizing, but not a stimulant.
It’s believed maca works in several different ways in the body to help with your hormones. It’s thought to support both the pituitary and adrenal glands, key centers of hormone production in your body.
Maca has a fantastic reputation for supporting you through several common menopausal complaints, including:
- Hair loss
- Low libido
- Low energy
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Feelings of worry
Maca Root + Energy
One of the most common things I hear from women is that maca gives them energy. And there’s some scientific evidence to support this. Animal studies show maca can help mice get some pep in their step. (6,7)
And a recent study showed people who took 3 grams of maca per day showed improved energy and mood when compared with a placebo. (8)
Maca Root + Estrogen
Because maca is often used to support menopausal symptoms, many people assume that it works as a phytoestrogen (plant-based source of estrogen). However, research indicates that is likely not the case. (9)
Still, many women with estrogen-dependent diseases like breast cancer or fibroids should always consult with their physician before starting any sort of prescription, supplement, or over-the-counter medication containing maca.
Maca Root For Ovulation
Another way maca is often used in women’s health is to support ovulation. If you’re no longer cycling this doesn’t apply to you (obviously).
But if you are in perimenopause and still cycling regularly or sporadically — this is important. You see, your body only produces significant amounts of progesterone after you ovulate. Once you hit perimenopause (sometimes as early as age 35) your progesterone starts to sharply decline. The loss of progesterone during this time is one of the key reasons you feel mood swings, anxiety, weight gain, and all those uncomfortable menopause symptoms. It’s not *just* about the loss of estrogen.
So, if you can support ovulation, you are increasing your progesterone levels naturally. And that’s one of the best things you can do for your menopause experience.
In one study, participants took a supplement blend containing maca, and researchers believed it helped increase ovulation. (10)
Maca Root And Blood Pressure
In general, blood pressure rises after menopause. Interestingly, there is some evidence to suggest that maca root could help lower blood pressure. In one study, researchers noted that postmenopausal women experienced a drop in their diastolic blood pressure. (11)
How Should Maca Root Be Taken?
My preferred form of maca root supplement is raw, organically grown Peruvian powdered maca. Beware of gelatinized maca, which is heated and processed. This process removes the fiber (a hormonal and digestive helper) and it also takes key enzymes and glucosinolates out of the maca.
I rely on two different forms of maca for my patients and myself:
1. Maca Root Powder
My Mighty Maca® Plus drink mix is made with only the highest quality, raw, ground, Peruvian-grown maca. It’s also gluten-free, manufactured according to the strictest standards, and contains not just maca but dozens of other superfoods as well. It’s an energizing, gut-supportive, menopause miracle worker!
2. Maca Root Capsules
If you don’t like the taste of maca, or you’d just prefer maca root pills, I also take that same, high-grade organic Peruvian maca and put it into a capsule for you as well.
How Long Does Maca Root Take To Start Working?
So, how long does maca root take to kick in? As with any dietary supplement, the answer is “it depends!”
Many of my patients see an immediate influx of energy and vigor with just one serving of my Mighty Maca® Plus. But most see a marked improvement after regularly taking it daily for 2-3 weeks.
Can Maca Root Be Taken Daily?
There’s no recommended or standardized maca root dosage. However, many of my patients see fantastic results with daily use of my Mighty Maca® Plus.
Remember, in Peru, all people, young and old, eat maca every single day, multiple times a day.
But when it comes to answering the question, “How much maca root should I take per day?” I always say try it out and see how it makes you feel.
For my Mighty Maca® drink mix, I recommend starting with one scoop (or even 1/2 scoop if your body is not accustomed to high-quality adrenal support and greens…As your body detoxes, you can then work your way up to 2 or even 3 scoops daily.
For my Mighty Maca® capsules, I recommend 6 capsules a day as an optimal dose. But if you are new to Mighty Maca® Menopause Capsules, just start out with 3 and increase from there.
Maca Root Side Effects (Female)
It’s important to note that while maca is generally well tolerated, some people do experience side effects, especially if they take large quantities. If you find yourself with digestive upset when you first start taking maca, try starting small and work your way up. Sometimes, additional digestive enzymes and a high-quality probiotic can help in this department, too.
If you’re on thyroid medication, be sure to consult with your physician before taking maca. While maca could support low thyroid function, it also can be too stimulating for overactive thyroids, and it could interfere with your medications.
It’s rare, but some people are allergic to cruciferous veggies. (12) If you have an allergy to broccoli or kale, it’s probably best to avoid maca root just in case.
We don’t have enough research on the safety of maca root for pregnant and nursing women. So if you are pregnant or nursing, it’s best to avoid taking maca for now.
And of course, always check in with your medical provider before you begin taking any supplement.
Maca Root Recipes
One of my favorite things about maca is that it’s so versatile. It also has a pleasant, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor that lends itself well to so many different kinds of recipes.
From breakfast to dinner, here are examples of some of my top maca root recipes.
Seriously, you can get so creative with Mighty Maca® Plus powder, but it is fantastic just mixed with a little hot or cold water, too. I add it to my smoothies almost every day.
Where To Buy Maca Root Organic Powder
If you’re interested in taking maca for all of its hormone-balancing, menopausal benefits — you should definitely make sure your maca is:
- Tested for toxins and heavy metals
- Manufactured in a certified GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) facility
There are a lot of poor-quality maca root powders out there. As this wonder-herb gains popularity worldwide, many companies are racing to the market and cutting corners.
My Mighty Maca® Plus blend is of the highest quality — and is always organic, non-GMO, and Peruvian-grown. We also rigorously test the product for multiple toxins and heavy metals as part of our GMP process.
Summary: Maca Root — What Does It Do?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive into maca root, what it does, the powerful nutrients it contains, and the science behind this amazing plant.
It’s a tremendous tool for menopausal women, as I’ve seen over the years, working with tens of thousands of women as a triple-board certified OB/GYN.
Yes, it is my product that I developed and created…but I can say without a doubt Mighty Maca® Plus is the best brand of maca root supplements on the planet and I’m so proud of how it’s helped thousands of women the world over reclaim their menopause experience!