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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Maca Root Benefits

As the population and world becomes more closely connected, there arise many alternatives to traditional western medicine. A recent discovery of a Peruvian root, called maca, has provided people with a supplement that helps balance the human hormones and raise the body's resistance to pathogens.

Maca

    Maca is the root of a low-lying plant that usually has about 12 to 20 leaves that seem to "creep" along the ground. The root itself is beneath ground and appears in various colors: purple, red, cream, yellow, or black. No bigger than a turnip, it thrives in cold environments. In turn, it grows in the high altitudes of the Andes in Peru. Maca has the highest frost threshold of any commercially cultivated plant. Producers will dry and grind the root into a powder to be used as a supplement.

Traditional Uses

    Peruvians domesticated the maca plant about 2,000 years ago and used it as a staple food because of its high nutritional content. Peruvians also used the maca root for fertility and increased sexual performance. The medicinal uses ranged from treating anemia, tuberculosis, depression, and cancer.

Maca and the Endocrine

    The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce necessary hormones that assist the body with proper functioning. Maca affects the endocrine system by providing specific nutrients that aid the glands in secreting hormones to the body. For instance, maca contains vitamin C and trace amounts of zinc, which help the thymus with cell mediated immunity. This provides overall benefits to the immune system.

How it Works

    Maca is an adaptogen (helps the body resist stress and trauma) that provides various nutrients, which calm and balance the body. With calcium, B1, B2, and B12, it nourishes the nervous system, while stimulating your appetite and assisting with digestion. Additionally, maca contains sterols that assist the body in muscle repair and physical endurance. It also contains over 20 fatty acids and essential amino acids that assist your vital organs in functioning properly.

Side Effects

    If taken as a supplement, the recommended dosage is one 450 mg capsule, taken three times a day. To date, there have been no reported side effects of the maca root---however, it should be noted that maca may cause low amounts of acute oral toxicity in animals. You should avoid maca if you have thyroid conditions because glucosinolates taken in excess with a low-iodine diet may cause the growth of a goiter. As of yet, researchers and physicians have not noted any negative interactions of maca with other drugs or supplements.

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