Maca is an herbaceous plant that is native to the high Andes of Peru. It is often used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of health-related issues. Recently, Maca has become popular around the world for its purported ability to improve male sexual health and function. As a result of the traditional, popular use of Maca, scientists put it to the test in a controlled research environment. The results of their findings have confirmed what traditionalists have known all along, that Maca is an effective aphrodisiac.
However, researchers also found some unexpected results as well.
In an experiment designed to determine Maca’s effect on men’s testosterone levels, researchers found that Maca had the effect of improving semen quality and heightening libido.In the journal article that was published in Andrologia following the study, researchers stated that their data “showed that Maca has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment… treatment with Maca improved sexual desire.”
Additional experiments have found that Maca may alleviate SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction , and may help restore a healthy libido in those taking SSRI’s (Anyone taking SSRI’s is advised to consult their physician prior to self-medicating with Maca to treat sexual dysfunction).
Maca is not only an aphrodisiac; it also has a positive effect on overall male reproductive health. In a review of the body of research concerning the human health effects of Maca root, researchers at the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru stated that “Maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility, and semen volume.”
Prior to controlled experiments at research institutions, Maca was thought to heighten libido by raising testosterone levels, however, it is now thought to have effects on the male libido because of its unique nutritional profile; it contains ideal levels of nutrients that are used by the human body’s endocrine system, and helps balance and/or restore healthy hormone levels .
Maca contains selenium, calcium, magnesium, and iron; fatty acids including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids; and 19 amino acids, as well as polysaccharides. Maca also contains a relatively unknown chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which is known for its ability to significantly increase libido, although institutional research on this chemical is lacking.
In conclusion, Maca has been found to have a positive effect on male libido, and may be an effective supplement to improve sperm production, motility, and semen volume. Maca most likely achieves these results because of its rich nutritional profile, and possibly because it contains p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which is thought to have libido-enhancing effects.