High in the Andes mountains of Peru grows Maca, a Superfood with the secrets of ancient civilizations going back nearly 2600 years. Cultivated first by the Pumpush warriors of the Amazon, the Yaro tribe of the Andean highlands, and then the Incan Empire, Maca root has been a symbol of stamina, virility, and performance for centuries. Today the Quecha tribes of Peru continue the legacy of cultivating Maca, the highest altitude crop in the world. ( Altitudes range 9,000-14,000 ft)
An Adaptogen for All Ages
As a member of the cruciferous plant family, Maca root (Lepidium meyenii or idium peruvianum) also known as Peruvian ginseng, has relation to broccoli, cabbage, kale, and radishes. The root grows in a variety of colors( red, black, yellow) and has a multitude of medicinal actions. Classified as an adaptagen, Maca aids the bodies immune and endocrine systems to adapt to its environment. Maca grows in a harsh environment, adapting to extreme temperature changes, wind, and sun. Due to this “signature” Maca is excellent for those who live in high, dry, cold climates, are extreme athletes such as climbers, mountaineers, or skiiers, and is perfect for alleviating altitude sickness. ( Maca increases the use of oxygen by red blood cells.) If you don’t live in these conditions, don’t despair, Maca can adapt to your needs.
Balance and Energy
When consumed Maca targets the hypothalamus in the brain, which regulates the pituitary, and thus all hormones in the body. It’s many actions affect the endocrine and immune systems and as if a bookshelf with books missing, Maca knows exactly how many books are needed to fill the shelf back up, without over stocking. If I could pick any word for Maca it would be BALANCE.
Maca provides sustained energy over time by improving balance of multiple systems. Targeting the adrenals through the pituitary, it improves energy by helping the adrenal glands adapt to stress. Many people have burned out adrenal glands due to chronic and prolonged stress, over stimulated fight or flight signals, and the use of stimulants. Maca’s qualities do not create the crash like caffeine or amphetamines, improving the adrenal glands and providing NATURAL sustained energy.
Centuries ago, the Incan warriors were fed Maca before battles, as it provided them with energy, however once enemy tribes were conquered these warriors were forbidden from eating Maca, as it was said to “spare” the women of the conquered tribe. Maca, coined by David Wolfe, as the Andean Aphrodisiac, is attributed to balancing hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone thus increasing libido. Studies also show that Maca increases sperm count and motility in male rats, and egg maturation in female rats- all within 72 hours of feedings. These two things together- increased libido and higher chance of egg fertilization = increased fertility. With current rates of infertility equaling breast cancer rates, Maca is a perfect superfood that can be added to improve hormone status, sexual interest, and performance, all WITHOUT side effects. These results can vary depending on the type of Maca (black, red, yellow), so it’s important to know what effect you are looking for and to take that kind.
Peru Holds on to Ancient Traditions by Banning GMO’s
There is so much wonderful research and information on Maca, it’s impossible to put it all here without writing a book. If you want to read a book on it, Superfoods by David Wolfe, is where I referenced much of this material, and is a fabulous way to get information on many amazing Superfoods, including Maca. Recently, Peru became one of only a few countries in the world to completely BAN GMO seeds and farming. The farmers who grow and cultivate Maca and many other ancient foods in Peru were listened to by their government, and for the next 10 years, no GMO crops will be grown in Peru. These farming practices should be supported and introducing Maca into your diet, could be a great way to start!
Learn more about Super Duper Foods with Dr Hillary.
A fabulous source of daily Maca can be found here.