Maca root (Lepidium meyenii Walp) is a cruciferous root vegetable prized by the indigenous Andean people as a remedy for stress, improving energy, and enhancing libido in men and women. It can be a great part of a high energy diet plan for athletes.
Popularly known as “Peruvian Ginseng,” Maca is in a class of herbs known as adaptogens, which help the body adapt to physical and mental demands. Maca has become a popular supplement to augment recovery among competitive athletes, particularly endurance athletes.
So what does the research say about this root? And how does it work in the body? Read on to learn more.
What does the research say?
Many of the studies on Maca have been conducted in Europe and Asia, and there is a growing research interest in the U.S. There is encouraging but not conclusive evidence for using maca to enhance endurance sport performance. One short-term study showed taking a maca supplement for 14 days can improve performance time in highly-trained male cyclists.
Both long-term studies and large-scale studies are necessary to understand if the effects are consistent over the course of training cycles and the duration of a competitive season. Also, it needs to be determined if the effects are the same for women and among different age groups.
How does maca work in the body?
Scientists don’t yet understand how maca works in the body, but they have attributed the health benefits to the many vitamins (such as B vitamins), minerals (iron, potassium, copper), and the unique plant compounds it contains, including ‘macamides’ and other active metabolites known as glucosinolates, which are of great interest to nutrition scientists.
How do I get maca?
Maca is available in powder, tincture, and capsule form. To determine if maca can support your athletic endeavors, consult with a physician who is trained in botanical medicine.
For weekly EcoMedicine advice and my exclusive, free ebook on how to be less stressed and happier using nature, subscribe to my email list.