Maca Root: 13 Health Benefits, How to Take It & Side Effects

Maca root, also known as peruvian ginseng or by its scientific name lepidium meyenii, is a tuber that belongs in the same plant family as the parsnip, cabbage, and watercress. It contains medicinal properties that can naturally improve energy levels and libido.

Maca root is considered to be a super-food because it is rich in fiber and essential fatty acids. It is overall nutritious when consumed and can result in increased energy and vigor.

Maca root is relatively easy to find and can be purchased at natural health stores in pill or powder forms. Either form can be mixed with other vitamins or added to smoothies. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 2

Health benefits

Maca root can be used for many things, but the scientifically-proven benefits include:

1. Increasing sexual desire

Peruvian maca contains substances such as macaridins, macamides, glucosinolates and alkaloids, with stimulating, tonic and antidepressant properties. It is considered to be a powerful sexual stimulant that can be indicated to increase sexual desire.

A study showed that doses of 1500 to 3000 mg of Peruvian maca per day, in gelatinized powder form, can help improve sexual desire and increase libido in men after 8 weeks of treatment.

Another study carried out with women, with doses of 3000 mg per day of Peruvian maca root, taken for 12 weeks, demonstrated that the plant was able to help increase libido in women with sexual dysfunction caused by the use of antidepressants.

However, more studies are still needed to evaluate the effect of Peruvian maca on increasing sexual desire. Read more about what can cause low libido.

2. Improving erectile dysfunction

According to a study, which used 2.4 g of maca root for 12 weeks in men, this plant can help improve mild erectile dysfunction in men, improving general well-being and sexual desire. However, more studies are still needed to confirm this action of Peruvian maca.

3. Increasing sperm count

Peruvian maca can stimulate sperm production, increasing sperm count and mobility to improve male infertility.

4. Helping to control blood sugar

Some studies carried out with rats in the laboratory have shown that Peruvian maca can help manage blood sugar levels due to the presence of flavonoids and phenols in its composition. It also has antioxidant action, which helps reduce damage caused by free radicals in cells and improve the production and the action of insulin. Therefore, this supplement can be an interesting natural option in the treatment of diabetes.

However, studies in humans are still needed to prove this benefit.

5. Reducing tiredness and fatigue

The polysaccharides present in Peruvian maca can help increase energy and performance, both physical and mental. This can help symptoms of tiredness and fatigue.

Due to these effects, Peruvian maca can be used by athletes or people who want to improve performance in physical activities. When consumed after sports, it can help reduce muscle pain or fatigue. Check-out other supplements for muscle growth that you can consider.

6. Improving concentration and reasoning

The fatty acids present in maca essential oil have an antioxidant effect that reduces the damage caused by free radicals in cells and protect neurons. Therefore, this plant can be taken to help increase mental performance, improve reasoning, and boost concentration and memory.

7. Relieving menopausal symptoms

Some studies have shown that the flavonoids present in Peruvian maca can help relieve menopause symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, improving mood and disposition. Learn more about the symptoms of menopause that can emerge.

Additionally, maca can help regulate estrogen levels in the body, which can also reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats.

8. Promoting weight loss

Maca can be used as a supplement during weight loss as it improves energy levels and increases the willingness to perform physical exercises. However, its use should be monitored by a doctor, and be part of a balanced diet recommended by a nutritionist.  Read more about how to maintain a weight loss diet.

9. Preventing premature aging

Due to its antioxidant properties, Peruvian maca can help prevent premature aging. Consuming maca promotes an increase in the concentration of interleukin-6 circulating in the blood, which combats free radicals. However, more studies are still needed to prove this effect.

10. Improving benign prostate hyperplasia

Peruvian maca can help reduce inflammation associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia, as it is capable of reducing the number of inflammatory cells in the prostate.

11. Preventing osteoporosis

Peruvian maca can help prevent osteoporosis, as it exerts a protective effect on organs that are regulated by steroid hormones, like estrogen. Therefore it is beneficial for preventing bone loss in the body.

12. Improving mood

Peruvian maca can help improve mood and reduce anxiety, stress and depression, due to the flavonoids present in its composition.

However, more studies are still needed to prove this benefit.

13. Protecting neurons

Studies carried out in animal cells have shown that Peruvian maca has a neuroprotective effect. Its antioxidant capacity can prevent damage caused by oxidative stress in neurons, which contributes to optimal functioning of the central nervous system, and helps to avoid neurodegenerative diseases.

However, studies in humans are needed to prove this benefit.

How to take it

The daily recommended dose of maca root is 1000mg three times a day, taken with meals, for a maximum of 4 months.

Nonetheless, the dose can vary depending on the type of treatment or condition the person wishes to address. Therefore, it is always best to consult a nutritionist or naturopath before starting maca root supplementation.

Maca root can also be consumed as part of your meals or drinks, either in root form or powder form. You can add two to three teaspoons to one serving of food.

Energizing maca root and mango smoothie

Imagem ilustrativa número 3

A smoothie prepared with maca root and mango is a great nutritional source. It can help to reduce tiredness, fatigue and weakness, as well as improve concentration and decision-making.


  • 2 teaspoons of maca root
  • 2 mangos, chopped-up
  • 2 teaspoons of flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • Juice squeezed from 1 lemon
  • 4 fresh mint leaves

How to prepare

Pour all the ingredients and some mineral water into a blender and mix until all ingredients are well-combined. If necessary, add more water to dilute the mixture. This recipe contains 2 servings.

Possible side effects

Peruvian maca is safe for most adults when small amounts are added to meals, or when taken in the recommended dose of up to 3 g per day for up to 4 months.

However, when excessive amounts are consumed or when taken for prolonged periods, maca can lead to allergies. Therefore its use should only be done with medical advice, a registered dietitian or a health professional with experience in medicinal plants.

Who should not take it

Peruvian maca should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as there are still no studies available that confirm the safety of this tuber during these times.

People with thyroid problems should only use maca under the guidance of a doctor. This is because it is rich in glucosinolates, which are bioactive compounds that can alter the production of thyroid hormones.

Furthermore, Peruvian maca should also not be used by women with a history of any type of estrogen-dependent disease or cancer, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast, ovarian or uterine cancer.