The active ingredients in Maca
The maca root is one of the most famous herbs coming from the Andes mountains. The legend of the virile and sexually powerful Inca warriors has always been connected with their use of the maca root and this same benefit is being sought by thousands of people from the Western World and other countries.
While the new world thinks of maca as an herb that can enhance the libido, it was considered food by the ancient Peruvians who gathered the wildly growing maca from the mountains. The maca root can be eaten raw or boiled just like the potato.
This root vegetable is very nutritious because it depletes almost all the nutrients contained by the soil in which it is grown. It is scientifically known as Lepidium peruvianum Chacón and is grown particularly for its use as food and as medicine.
Dried maca contains carbohydrates, dietary fiber,, fats and protein—the same contents found in cereal grass. It is also rich in essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, selenium and iron. It also contains palmitic acid, linolenic acid and oleic acid. Researchers point to the high mineral content of maca as the reason behind its aphrodisiac qualities but other scientists believe that it can also be attributed to the presence of the chemical p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate.
A study conducted in 1998 shows that maca contains macamides and macaenes which are directly responsible for the efficacy of maca in enhancing the libido. The maca root also contains benzylated alkamides like phenyl acetonitrile and macamides. Studies show that the essential oil of maca contains 85% Phenyl acetonitrile, 3% benzaldehyde and 2% methoxyphenylacetonitrile.
While maca generally has no toxicity, it was found out that it contains glucosinolates which is a substance that can cause goiters when consumed in large portions. There is however no proof if maca can cause goiter or if it can worsen an already existing condition.
A lot of maca’s ingredients are already known to doctors but further research is still needed to determine which of these ingredients are responsible for the effects of maca in enhancing the libido, in reducing menopausal symptoms and in providing stamina and reducing stress.