Maca, Superfood Superstar, Part II
Maca has been extensively studied for its effects upon male and female fertility. Studies with animals showed multiple egg follicle maturation in females and higher sperm production and motility in males. Males also had greater seminal volume and in females maca consumption had beneficial effects upon the endometrium, indicating a higher fertility level. Broods also increased by 25-40% in animals. A Chinese study showed animals fed maca extract showed a dramatic increase in sexual activity as compared with non maca-fed animals, and another experiment demonstrated that maca extract reversed erectile dysfunction in rats. A published human study in Lima, Peru, involving nine healthy men aged 22-44 who were given 1500-3000 mg daily showed increased number and motility of sperm, an increase in libido by 180%, and increases in DHEA levels. The participants also exhibited a decrease in anxiety and stress as well as an increase in adrenal hormones. Estrogen dominance, a problem for women and men these days due to xeno-estrogens in industrial products and hormonal additives in food, can reduce sperm production in men and negatively affect ovulation in women. Maca, through its hormone balancing effects, can decrease estrogen, increase progesterone, and free up bound testosterone, all of which increase libido and improve fertility. Traditionally, Peruvian couples wishing to conceive eat maca on a regular basis until conception occurs.
Menopause & Andropause
Negative menopausal symptoms are linked to hormonal imbalances. As we have discussed in Part I, maca doesn't contain weak plant hormones which have a similar biological effect as estrogen. Maca supports the body's endocrine glands to manufacture the necessary balance of needed hormones, thereby avoiding the introduction of one hormone in imbalance which may be detrimental. Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido may be reduced or corrected without HRT. Maca's beneficial effects upon stress may also benefit menopause, improving libido and a sense of well-being. Male menopause, or andropause, is characterized by a decline in or lessening ability to utilize testosterone. Symptoms of this may include fatigue, loss of libido, depression, weight gain, insomnia, and more. One cause of this may be estrogen excess. While maca does not directly increase testosterone levels, it does allow utilization of free testosterone, which is the hormonally active form and which may decline with age. With a normalization of the HPA, (see Part I) favorable ratios of testosterone to estrogen are restored, thus reducing male menopause symptoms. Along with the stress-reducing effects and libido-enhancing properties maca imparts, this herb may offer a powerful sense of rejuvenation to aging men.
HealthForce Maca Recipes
Evergreen carries more than five companies' maca products and there are diverse options available, from capsules to powder to liquid extracts to single serving powder pouches. We are featuring several products from HealthForce, including their newest maca product, Lucuma Spice. This powder contains pure maca along with South American herbs lucuma and yacon, which add a sweetness in addition to prebiotic value. A splash of organic ginger root adds a spicy tang and lends itself to inclusion in novel holiday recipes. Our friend Comet at HealthForce has shared with us some of her recipe ideas. She tells us that maca supports adrenal health, mood, and energy. This sounds like a holiday helper to us!
Maca Whipped Cream:
In a blender, combine 2 tsp. Lucuma Spice Maca powder, 1 pint organic heavy whipping cream, and 2 tsp. coconut sugar. Blend slowly. It's a perfect addition to pumpkin pie, and also great on hot chocolate and coffee drinks.
Maca Energy Balls:
Combine equal parts in a bowl: Pitted dates, nut butter of your choice, and chocolate chips. Add 1 tsp. maca, and 1-2 tsp. any other superfood powder, such as HealthForce Spirulina powder. Roll into balls. In a separate bowl, roll balls to smother in dried, shredded coconut. Keep in freezer. Anytime you need an energy boost, grab a couple of Maca Balls! Happy Holidays!
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