Although centuries old, maca comes from the brassica (mustard) family, similar to turnip, cabbage, and watercress (1). This root was first considered a superfood by the Incans who grew this hearty plant high in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
They valued maca, which they commonly called Peruvian ginseng, for its incredible sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, tannins and amino acids, as well as a number of complex alkaloids and up to 20 essential fatty acids, along with numerous other phytochemicals.
The healing properties of maca were so powerful, in fact, that Incan imperial warriors regularly ate it prior to battle to help increase their “fighting spirit,” strength, stamina, and libido. Although relatively small, this vegetable was so potent that its use was restricted mainly to royalty and their court. Incans respected the value of this plant so much they even used it as a form of payment (2).
Today, many athletes and even bodybuilders still use maca to help build their strength, stamina and overall performance (3, 4). But maca has another, lesser known benefit that researchers are only beginning to understand. This potent vegetable has the ability to balance hormones, which makes it invaluable for both men and women in various stages of life. However, maca is especially good for women during menopause.
Maca For Women
Regulates Hormonal Imbalances
Maca is considered to be an endocrine adaptogen. While it does not contain any hormones itself, it does contain the necessary nutrients to support normal hormone production within your body. One of these nutrients is DIM (Diindolylmethane), a phytochemical that is found in many cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. DIM has been found in numerous studies to greatly improve hormone balance (both estrogen and testosterone) in both men and women. It has also been found effective against some forms of cancer (5).
Research shows that maca can actually help to normalize hormone levels by working with your endocrine system. For women, maca can be a lifesaver, especially when most conventional options typically involve synthetic forms of hormones that are proven to be dangerous, even causing such things as ovarian cancer, stroke, and asthma, among other things (6,7,8).
Essentially, maca provides the nutrients your body needs to naturally produce its own hormones to effectively restore balance. In comparison, conventional hormone treatments introduce synthetically made chemicals that can wreak havoc on your endocrine system. Hormone regulation is vital as these substances are responsible for virtually every process in your body.
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Reduces Symptoms of Menopause
Because maca can help to balance hormones, it is extremely helpful for women to reduce the typical symptoms associated with menopause.
One 2006 study reveals that maca can help to alleviate the negative physiological and psychological symptoms experienced by women in perimenopause, such as the frequency of hot flashes, the incidence of night sweats, interrupted sleep, nervousness, depression, and heart palpitations. Researchers state, “It appears that Maca-GO may act as a toner of hormonal processes, leading to alleviation of discomfort felt by perimenopausal women, hence, its potential use as non-hormonal alternative to HRT program.” (9)