Posted: 25 Jul 2014 08:00 AM PDT
Indigenous people of the Andes have consumed maca root (commonly referred to as Peruvian ginseng) for centuries, calling upon this superfood as a natural remedy for a diverse range of conditions. While considered a root vegetable and food staple in the Andean diet for thousands of years, Western researchers have only recently discovered this ancient herb and the many benefits it may provide for women. Sexual health, improving fertility, and combating the effects of menopause are only a few benefits this healing herb has to offer.
Maca for Women: What are the Benefits?
For women, the benefits of regular maca consumption are substantial. While maca benefits both men and women, we’re going to focus specifically on how it can boost female quality of life. The following 8 benefits of maca for women are now supported by modern research.
1. Decreases Menopause Symptoms
Maca root has been used extensively as a hormone balancer, and research shows that its high nutrient density and phytochemical content may be the underlying contributors to this effect. Researchers evaluating the herb for weight loss observed that women taking a maca root supplement enjoyed a reduction in many of the most common menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disruptions, night sweats, and depression.  A similar study found women taking maca root enjoyed a significant relief from symptoms associated with menopause. 
2. Improves Sexual Function
Female sexual dysfunction depends on a multitude of factors, with the woman’s age, lifestyle, and medical/nutritional status being the primary elements. Although conventional medicine has created pharmaceutical agents designed to increase sexual desire and satisfaction in women, these products are often laden with side effects that can create more problems than previously existed.
One study examined the effectiveness of maca supplementation for remedying sexual dysfunction in women as a result of taking SSRIs, commonly-prescribed antidepressants. Women in the study enjoyed an improvement in sexual satisfaction when taking the highest dose of three grams per day.  Maca’s success as a potent fighter against chemically-induced sexual dysfunction seems to support its traditional use.
While research is sparse on its effectiveness for being a sure-fire aphrodisiac, some small-scale studies indicate maca's possible use in the bedroom. Not surprisingly, maca root has a centuries-long reputation for being a powerful aphrodisiac. Loaded with minerals like zinc, iodine, and essential fatty acids, maca may balance sex hormones and may also improve mood.  With a healthy mood and balanced hormone levels, arousal is usually much easier to achieve.
4. Supports Mood
Nutrition research shows that natural fatty acids found in foods, including maca root, is necessary for supporting mood and overall brain health.  An examination of maca’s protective effect for the brain has shown promising results, offering many researchers hope for finding a natural alternative to cognitive-enhancement drugs. Fatty acids in maca root support brain function, which may be responsible for stabilizing analytical skills, cognitive function, and rational thinking. Many doctors focused on holistic wellness often recommended omega-3 fatty acids (like the ones found in maca) as a first step toward alleviating certain symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and stress.  
As infertility is becoming an increasing issue facing both women and men, it’s no wonder why so many people today are turning to natural alternatives for improving fertility. So far, research has only examined maca root’s impact on fertility in animals, with much of the research showing promising results. Studies support maca’s traditional use as a fertility enhancer, especially for females, noting its ability to increase serum luteinizing hormone in the pituitary gland.  This hormone is associated with fertility, among other factors in the body.
6. Increases Bone Density
Maintaining bone density is a common problem for many women as they age. Studies of maca’s effect on menopausal symptoms have found that it increases important marker’s associated with bone density.  This could be helpful for women who have a family history of osteoporosis, or for those who are simply seeking to protect their bone health.
7. Energy Enhancer
Maca is rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and protein. These nutrients naturally support energy levels and aid in recovery from injury. Numerous studies have evaluated maca root for its role in athletic performance for these exact reasons.  Even if you’re not an athlete, incorporating maca into your daily routine could be an excellent way to bring a spring back into your step.
One Final Thought
Additional studies determine maca as a safe, yet potent, superfood. This isn’t at all surprising to those in the know, as maca root has been a staple in the diet of indigenous peoples for thousands of years. For many, maca root is a daily food, used in smoothies, soups, and baked goods. Whether it's consumed for enhancing energy, increasing libido, or improving bone density, maca is a tasty addition to any diet. For those of you who do not consume maca root on a daily basis, you might want to look into increasing your intake. You just may be surprised at the benefits you reap once incorporating it into your meals.
Have you ever taken maca root for any of the above benefits? What were your experiences? Let us know in the comments!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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