If I had to choose just one superfood, then maca would get my top vote. It just can’t be denied, maca is incredible stuff. For me I dare say, perhaps even life changing. Amidst its myriad of different benefits, maca is known for it’s ability to somewhat mysteriously and magically balance the hormone (endocrine) system. There’s a little bit of science behind that, but the main evidence is in the fact that lots of people who take it notice a significant improvement in hormonal related issues.
When looking at medicinal benefits of foods, I have a paradoxical scepticism, balanced with a healthy open mind. I don’t blindly assume that something will work, yet I stay open to the possibilities. I am someone who has experienced significant improvement in endocrine function with daily use of maca.
A personal note – pre-menstrual stuff and ovarian cysts
Like many of us, my hormone system has always been a little touch and go, with sensitivity. Aside from the usual pre-menstrual stuff, the biggie for me was the appearance of ovarian cysts a few years back. Ovarian cysts are just one of the multitude of different hormone related issues that women might get when the hormones are a little (or a lot) out of balance (which seems to be most of us in some way or another).
It’s a bit of a mystery to me as to why we are so out of wack – even if we eat a super healthy diet, there are the pollutants in the air, genetic weakness, lifestyle issues where we ignore the natural rhythms of life (which despite our best intententions is probably 99.9% of us). So anyway, ovarian cysts was my body’s way of saying ‘hey let’s look at balancing this endocrine system’ (thank you universe for your generous prompt!).
Anyway, I’ve taken gelatinised maca on a daily basis for two or three years. It cleared up my ovarian cysts and helped ease any pre-menstrual issues that were bothering me.
Here is the amazing thing though… I stopped taking maca three times over that period, for a couple of weeks – and ***deep inhale*** on ALL three occasions my ovarian cyst symptoms returned EVERY TIME! So needless to say, maca works for me beyond any doubt.
I have heard countless stories of maca offering significant relief and support around the menopause too.
Studies that show the therapeutic effects of maca on women
There are many studies to show the therapeutic effects of this plant. One such study in Australia had incredible results. It observed significant relief of peri-menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, incidence in night sweating, interrupted sleep pattern, nervousness, depression and heart palpitations) in a large number of women involved in the study. It also demonstrated the added benefit of weight loss, reduction in blood pressure and a boost in iron and good HDL cholesterol.
Another study involving 168 early-postmenopausal women volunteers (either taking a placebo or gelatinised maca) showed rather promising results. It concluded that gelatinised maca…
“significantly reduced both frequency and severity of individual
menopausal symptoms (hot flushes and night sweating in particular)”.
Practicing medical doctors with amazing results
Hugo Malaspina, MD is a respected cardiologist in Peru who now practices complementary medicine with an emphasis on the use of medicinal herbs. He is one of the earliest modern pioneers in the therapeutic use of maca . After using plant with his patients for a number of years he observed the following…
‘There are different medicinal plants that work on the ovaries by stimulating them.
With maca, though, we should say that it ‘regulates’ the ovarian function.’
Dr. Malaspina suggests that the benefit is that rather than introducing hormones from outside the body (which can create imbalance and knock on effects), maca encourages the ovaries and other glands (thyroid, pituitary gland, pineal glad, hypothalamus, testes, adrenal glands etc.) to produce necessary hormones for optimal function through the whole body. He says…
“I have had perhaps 200 female patients whose perimenopausal and
postmenopausal symptoms are alleviated by taking maca.”
I’ve read lots of things like this. I could go on and on and on – but you get the picture, right!
How does maca actually work?
It’s a bit of a mystery. The important thing here seems to be that maca doesn’t actually infuse your body with hormones. So it’s not like ‘I am short on oestrogen, let’s get some oestrogen etc.’ Adding hormones to the body in that way might be like ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ – causing more imbalance in the long term.
Maca however is said to do have the rather incredible knack of creating balance – finding out exactly what your body needs and then helping it to achieve that – in a balanced, natural way. So if the hormones are out of balance it will kick start the system so that it can produce them itself. A sort of magical little friend looking at the whole picture in a balanced way and giving the system a nice bit of homeostasis.
OK, I am not being particularly scientific here (not my forte). I am more of a folk medicine, traditional, ‘trust in the energy of the land’ sort of woman. I also trust in the native people of Peru who have embraced this plant root for millennia (yes!!! it has well and truly stood the test of time).
It is common to hear that the native people of the Andes only eat maca once it has been boiled or roasted. They have apparently done so ever since we can trace back in history. On the other hand, the modern trend of eating raw maca does occasionally have its pitfalls. Some people who eat maca in its raw form find that it irritates the stomach. When in doubt, I say, do what the indigenous folk do – and eat the cooked version (i.e. gelatanised) – they have, after all, been doing it for aeons!
My personal experience of raw Maca…
I went through a period of consuming raw maca root powder many years ago. Whilst I truly appreciate the benefits of eating raw foods, I learned there are times when it isn’t always optimal for our digestion. The truth is, I couldn’t stomach raw maca for long, so I only enjoyed it as an occasional treat, rather than on a daily basis as I do now. It didn’t feel ‘bad’ for me as such… I just felt as if it wasn’t digesting properly and I started developing an aversion to it.
I have since learned that it’s not uncommon that people to struggle to digest this plant in its raw form.
My personal experience of gelatinised Maca…
I am so glad that I gave maca a second chance. It has become one of my all time favourite foods! It helps to balance my hormones (and boy – do I need help with that!). Maca also supports me to cope with stressful situations, where my fight or flight mode has a tendency to go into total overdrive. By consuming the non-raw, gelatinised version I experienced a world of difference. Finally, I got to experience maca to it’s full potential. My body soaked up those health benefits like there was no tomorrow. Now, I enjoy it on a daily basis.
What is gelatanised Maca?
Gelatinisation happens when the maca is heated on a low heat, allowing the roots to separate from its fibrous parts. Most of the nutrients are maintained during this process. Gelatinisation essentially removes the starchy carbohydrates, creating a high concentration of beneficial nutrients. It contains a higher ratio of nutrients than raw maca.
Where to get your Maca Root Powder from?
Your health is important, so be sure to buy
- Certified organic
- GMO free
- Peruvian Maca
It might be tempting to cut corners and go for inferior products for convenience, but it’s not worth it. Maca not particularly cheap to buy, however, you would probably only use between a teaspoon and tablespoon every day. Therefore a 500g (1lb) packet could last you up to three months. A small price to pay for such healthful properties.
I only recommend products that I have used, tried and tested myself. The following two companies both have excellent ethical standards and I’ve been in touch with them personally. Here are my suggestions…
North America (scroll down for UK & Europe)
My favourite brand the USA is now Terrasoul. I was looking for an alternative to the Sevenhills one that I use, for my mother who lives out there. They grow it with small family-owned, organic farms high in the Peruvian Andes and selectively harvest their roots. I’ve used this when I visit the USA and love it
Check it out here:
Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Gelatinised Maca Powder
UK and Europe
My favourite company in the UK is Sevenhills Wholefoods. They sell the maca that I use the vast majority of the time. Sevenhills are very much in contact with their farmers, and are proud of the direct-supply line they have established, with ethics, fairtrade, organic and sustainability as priorities. Whilst it isn’t cheap, considering the quality of their product, their price is very good value.
Check it out here:
Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Gelatinised Maca Powder 500g
Super Healthy Maca Recipes
My favourite way to use maca is in a smoothie blend. Not only does it bring incredible health benefits, but it adds a delicious malty taste. I’ve also published my favourite superfood Maca Chocolate recipe, some very nutritious Maca Granola and Malty Maca Date Bars…