Balance Your Hormones the Peruvian Way - the Amazing Maca
Thursday, August 1st 2002
How does one herb increase fertility, energy, libido, erectile dysfunction, menopausal problems, chronic fatigue and athletic performance? Maca is a little known root vegetable from the same family as brussel sprouts, broccoli and turnips. The root of the plant is similar in size and shape to its big brother the turnip, and it is cooked and eaten either fresh or dry. It has a unique aroma and flavour which is similar to butterscotch. It grows at 15,000 feet in one small region of the high Andes of central Peru and has been used as a food source for the past 5,800 years.
For centuries in Peru, the indigenous people have eaten Maca and fed it to their animals to increase fertility.
Current scientific data indicates that Maca significantly increases sperm count, motility and volume in males. In females it has been indicated to improve conception and birth-rates while lowering the rate of miscarriages.
However, there are few valid scientific studies at this stage - only the centuries of successful use.
Hormonal levels decline, in both males and females as we age. Maca provides a natural way to help manage this process. Some athletes use Maca as a natural alternative to anabolic steroids.
Maca contains significant amounts of amino acids, carbohydrates and minerals including Calcium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamins B1,B2,B12,C and E and other nutrients including much needed essential fatty acids. Deficiency in any of these nutrients can affect many different body systems in diverse ways. Any health condition can also increase the body's need for extra nutrients. One of the key factors of Maca appears to be its highly absorbable nature.
This has obvious benefits for those people whose absorption of nutrients is lowered. Anorexics, people convalescing, those suffering from stress and people with gut absorption problems such as colitis of crohns disease.
It's the Hormones!
At the end of a long, tiring day, it's the hormones via the adrenal glands that want rest. When a headache comes on during menstruation, it is probably the hormones that need balance. When grief or shock hits and energy is low or chronic fatigue slows you down, the hormone signalling glands are usually struggling to cope. Many of these conditions may benefit from Maca's ability to improve the hormone signalling system. The adrenal gland can receive signals from the "fight or flight" adrenal system but also receives hormonal commands from the pituitary. Here is where Maca appears to have its action.
By helping the pituitary gland to function better and send strong hormonal signals to the adrenal glands, it allows them to function better and help prevent adrenal exhaustion. Maca helps feed the adrenal glands to improve their functioning. The thyroid may also be helped through Maca's action on the pituitary. Tiredness may often have as a root cause a lack of thyroid hormone or insufficient hormone signal from the pituitary. If both the thyroid and adrenal glands need a "pick me up" then Maca could be indicated. This makes Maca ideal for students, professional people, writers, athletes, marathon runners, martial arts enthusiasts, weary travellers and people who simply need a lift or who want to maintain intense work or sports schedules.
Hormonal Help for Men and Women
Hormonal signals to the testes and ovaries improve with the addition of Maca to the diet. A lack of testosterone has been implicated in male sexual dysfunction. An improved hormonal signal from the pituitary to the ovaries helps the production of both estrogen and progesterone and seems to increase the chances of conceiving. PMS, menstrual irregularities and menopause can be due to hormones that are out of balance. Maca plays a very important role in this area.
The improvement of the hormone system not only helps athletic performance but the steroid like properties of some of the constituents (stigmasterol, sitosterol) gives it an anabolic use for sports people trying to maintain their best. Maca provides a natural and safe alternative to synthetic anabolic steroids.
Maca offers excellent nutrition for the hormonal system that is absorbable and benefits the thyroid, ovaries, testes and adrenals resulting in an overall feeling of well being.
Reproduced unabridged from the August/September 2002 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.
Footnote from Ideal Health
The following products are all useful for hormonal balancing :
Related health information can be found here:
DIM Plus to assist in cancer prevention
Fatigued and stressed? Your adrenals may be the cause
Femitone - menopausal relief
PMT, Menopause, and hormonal imbalance
Tired and lacking energy?
Related articles can be found here:
Balance your estrogen/ testosterone levels naturally with DIM (Dinndolylmethane)
Help for Men's Hormonal Power
Hot flushes? An internationally recommended herb
The traditional balancing herb for women
If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.
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