Showing posts with label benefits of maca root. Show all posts
Showing posts with label benefits of maca root. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ditch the Caffeine Habit With Maca Root

Could maca root be an effective coffee substitute? Perhaps so.  Many people find that regular and continued use of the more commonly used energy boosters – coffee, black tea, and cola beverages – is problematic.

For some, the problem is stomach upset. In others: headaches or nervousness. And many find that the energy boost from coffee or other caffeine beverages diminishes over time; what once took a single cup of coffee for that early morning perkiness might now take three or four cups to get the same effect. 

What is the alternative if you're in the habit of that morning boost? Many people have found that maca root provides a better, healthier solution than maintaining your coffee addiction.

Andes mountains in PeruWhat is maca root?

Maca, whose scientific name is the ever-so-catchy Lepidium meyenii (now you know why most call it maca) is an herbal plant in the radish family that thrives in the wilds of the high Andes Mountains of Peru.

Due to its rising popularity, the maca plant is also farmed in the region for its root, used both as a vegetable and a medicinal herb.  Peruvian natives have been using the root in food preparation and for its medicinal properties for centuries.

What are the benefits of maca root?

Many natural health practitioners consider maca root to be one of the most powerful superfoods. Proponents and sellers of maca root claim a host of benefits, including:
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Mental clarity
  • Immune system enhancement
  • Relief for symptoms of chronic fatigue
  • Stress defense
  • Endocrine system support and stimulation
  • Skin health and rejuvenation
  • Menopausal support
  • Cholesterol reduction
  • Balancing out premenstrual mood swings
  • Enhanced fertility and sex drive
Few formal scientific studies have been performed to verify all these maca root health benefits, and some research even appears to debunk the connection between Maca root and enhanced sex drive or fertility, although at least one conflicting study performed with male subjects showed an increase in semen volume, sperm count, and sperm motility after a four-month treatment regimen.  

The claims that appear to be more universally accepted and supportable under scrutiny of scientific study include its ability to boost energy and mental clarity, and its positive influence on the endocrine system, showing the potential to stabilize hormone levels.  Because of this, many natural health practitioners have recommended maca root powder for treatment of PMS and menopausal symptoms, or as a form of hormone replacement therapy.  This herb appears to hone in on hormonal imbalances in women –the source of many menopausal and PMS problems, such as cramping, fatigue, cravings, bloating, irritability, hot flashes, and headaches.

As for its effects on energy level or mental clarity, many people use maca root as a substitute for coffee, or even as an additive to their coffee, because of its similar effects.  Maca root is loaded with B-vitamins, which adds to its energy affect, and offers a vegetarian source of B-12.

Maca root

Where can I get Maca root?

Perform an online search for "maca root" or "maca root powder" and you will find numerous online health food providers that carry various forms of maca root, including ground root powder, maca root pills, as maca root liquid extract, or in the form of a roasted maca coffee substitute. Many local or national health food chains also carry various forms of maca root.

What do I do with it – how do I take Maca root?

There are many ways to take maca root, with the most common being in pill form, as a liquid extract, or as powdered maca root.  If you are used to the habit of that morning cup of coffee, you can also find roasted versions of maca root designed to taste similar to coffee. Maca root can be enjoyed raw or cooked. In its powdered form, you can mix it into water or teas, or dust your foods with it.

As for the flavor, most people describe it as an "acquired taste," not necessarily bad tasting, but not pleasant either. Some do like it, describing it as a light, nutty flavor, while others describe it as a flavor that is "hard to mask, and takes some getting used to." 

Maca root side effects

There are no serious maca root side effects discovered in human clinical trials, according to NYU medical research but, like caffeine, which has many benefits, maca root can have side effects that may prevent you from taking it regularly.  It’s recommended that you start slowly, gradually build up the dosage so you don’t have a bad reaction.

Possible side effects include rapid heart beat, sweating, anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, heartburn, mood changes, confusion, and elevated heart rate.  In many cases, due to the medicinal strength of maca root, system detoxification can bring on some of these negative side effects temporarily, particularly among those with compromised health already. Other Maca root risks or health considerations:
  • Do not to take when pregnant or lactating.
  • Maca contains glucosinolates, which have been known to generate goiters when consumed in high quantity in combination with a low-iodine diet.
  • Any information in this article is intended to supplement but not substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider before you start any new treatment or significant diet change.

Maca root Recipes

Maca root in green smoothieYou can use powdered maca root in juices, smoothies, or shakes. You can also add it to yogurt and hot or cold cereals. Also try cooking or baking the powder into your other favorite dishes.  More recipes:
As well, the Navitas Naturals website has a host of maca root recipes worth trying, including Chocolate Energy Bites with walnut, hemp, and maca; a Blueberry Hemp Shake with maca; and Crispy Rice Squares with maca. 

If you have any tasty maca recipes of your own, please share using the comments below. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer