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Maca root (Lepidium meyenii [Latin]) is native to the mountain regions of Peru, where it has had a reputation as a powerful sex-enhancer since the times of the ancient Incas. Maca has been called Peruvian ViagaraŽ and Peruvian ginseng because of its legendary ability to promote mental and physical vitality and increase libido in both men and women. Maca is often referred to as a natural hormone balancer, an adaptagen that can treat symptoms of menopause and sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Maca root may also help treat other conditions associated with hormone imbalance, such as depression, insomnia, fatigue, and acne.
Maca root actually provides the body with many healthful nutrients, including potassium and calcium (it actually has higher levels of calcium than milk). It also contains protein, carbohydrates, and fatty acids. However, it is the presence of two recently discovered compounds, macamides and macaenes, that are thought to give maca its powerful aphrodisiac effects. In the April 2000 issue of the medical journal Urology, researchers reported that rodents fed a concentration of macamides and macaenes developed a striking increase in energy, sex drive, and stamina.
Maca is recommended for treatment of a host of hormone-related disorders, including low sex drive in men and women, infertility, low sperm count, impotence, and menopausal and premenstrual symptoms. Research indicates that hormone-balancing maca also supports adrenal gland function, which is very important in times of stress when the adrenal glands produce large amounts of adrenaline.
Athletes sometimes use maca to boost energy and stamina, and there are reports that this root can increase mental function as well.
In Peru, maca roots are dried and ground into a flour-like consistency. It is considered a food, and may be added to blender drinks, cookies, cakes, and chips. You can purchase maca root powder from some health food stores and from online distributorships. Try adding it to your own recipes; use ˝ tsp. of maca for each cookie, or 1 tsp. for each slice of bread (make sure to subtract out an equal amount of flour). You can also add maca powder to your own smoothie or health drink.
The recommended dosage for powder is about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon each day, but much higher doses of maca have been well-tolerated, and there have been no toxic effects associated with this substance. In toxicity studies conducted in the United States, maca showed absolutely no adverse pharmacologic effects. Maca root is also available in capsule and extract forms.
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