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Maca Root Benefits and Side Effects

Updated on April 2, 2016
Maca root in powder form. I got it at the store for $16
Maca root in powder form. I got it at the store for $16

Maca root. It's almost as fun as saying chimichanga. But it is healthier than chimichangas. I just thought you should know . . .

Maca root is becoming more and more popular because of its many benefits, but also because many men and women are calling the natural viagra. Got your attention? Let's continue then...

Benefits

This root has been praised left and right especially because of the positive effects it has in the body's hormones. Women with severe PMS symptoms or those going through menopause experience a decrease in those symptoms with regular consumption.

Also, because of the effect it has on hormones, it has been praised as a natural viagra, increasing libido in both men and women and increasing erections and sperm count in men.

Fun Facts

It was used by indigenous people as an aphrodisiac

The Incas used it to pay taxes. (You hear that, IRS?)

The maca root looks like a small carrot, tastes slightly sweet and has a color similar to potatoes.
The maca root looks like a small carrot, tastes slightly sweet and has a color similar to potatoes.

More Benefits

  • Regulates menstrual cycles
  • Regulates and increases the function of the endocrine system

These are the glands that provide the needed hormones to regulate bodily and metabolic functions such as fertility, libido, digestion, brain function, energy levels and the physiology of the nervous system.

The hormones that these glands secrete play an important role in the development of serious diseases and disorders such as cancer and depression. So maca root also has the benefit of being anticarcinogenic.

  • Regulates metabolism
  • Helps build muscle

May be used as an alternative to steroids.

  • Increases fertility
  • Promotes healthy bones and teeth

Has the highest concentration of calcium of any other plant of its type.

  • Prevents and reduces hair loss

Because of its high zinc content, maca root improves tissue oxygenation and favors the normal development of hair

  • Delays aging process
  • Improves testorone levels in males
  • Boosts immune system
  • Reduces "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and increases "good" cholesterol (HDL)
  • Provides energy and vitality to pancreas and thyroid gland
  • Wonderful energizer

No more Monster or Red Bull! Maca root has similar energizing effects as ginseng, if not better.

  • Beneficial for circulatory system

Decreases healing time for wounds and injuries.

  • Reduces anemia

Does It Contain Hormones?

No, maca root does not contain any hormones. The reason it has a hormonal effect is because it nourishes the endocrine system and helps these glands produce vital hormones in optimal amounts needed for each person.

Do not use during pregnancy or lactation.
Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. | Source

Side Effects

  • Should not be taken during pregnancy or lactation

There aren't any studies that state that it could damage the baby, but there aren't any studies stating the opposite. In other words, there isn't enough research to say whether it's safe or not for the baby, so just to be safe, stay away from it while you're pregnant or breast feeding.

  • Don't give it to children

For the same reason stated above: not enough research to see if children could be negatively affected by this root.

  • Insomnia

Because Maca root increases energy levels, you may have a hard time going to sleep if you take it after 12 pm. Take your supplements in the morning to fix this problem.

  • Gas and diarrhea

This root has a high content of fiber. If your body is not used to it, it could cause gas and/or diarrhea. However, this effect will disappear after the first few days of taking it, or until your body adjusts.

  • Hypertension

It has a high sodium content which could lead to or worsen hypertension. However, it is also rich in potassium, which presumably balances sodium levels, which could decrease the chance for hypertension.

Once again, there's not enough research to prove or disprove this claim. But to be on the safe side, don't consume if you have predisposition to hypertension.

  • Not for diabetics under medication

Maca root can increase the effects of insulin and any other medication taken for diabetes, which could cause a drastic decrease in blood glucose levels.

However, it could be beneficial for diabetics who are NOT taking any medication since maca lowers glucose levels. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

  • Not for people with thyroid problems

Maca contains iodine which could be really good or really bad for people with thyroid problems depending on their condition. Once again, always consult your doctor to find out if it's safe or not.

How to Use It

Maca root is more commonly used in its powder form, which can be added to juices, shakes or just water.

It also comes in flour form, so you can bake yummy goodies with it. The root itself can also be cooked and there's also Maca tea.

Cautions

Maca root should not be consumed for more than 3 months at a time. Use it for three months and let your body rest for a few more months before you go back to it.

Also, start your intake slowly. Maca can have some pretty drastic effects on your body. Start taking maca supplements once a week and see how your body reacts.

Let your body adjust to it before you drown it in maca, as this could have some negative effects (tiredness, lost periods, etc). Slowly increase your intake to reap all the benefits this wonderful root has to offer.

My Experience

I tried Maca root and I gotta tell you, I did not love it. My menstrual cycle is very regular, but the root made my cycle longer, which is awesome, because I went 44 days without a menstrual period. But I was also scared, because I thought I was pregnant. I didn't like this, but maybe some other people do. (Who doesn't love less periods a year, right?)

In any case, that was the only side effect I experienced from the root, which was enough for me to stop using it.

Have you had any positive or negative experiences? Tell me about it in your comments. I'm always interested in learning more!

Comments

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      Lisy 2 days ago

      I started using this a week ago and had the same experience as the person below... I bought it bc its in the red cleanse diet.

      So Ive had 5 smoothies so far with this and normally I spent 3-4 hours in gym and my workouts have had me feeling sick and totally wiped out.. like it I'm having a harder time breathing. I think I may be using too much of it in the shakes. I use 2 tablespoons and also turmeric and green defense in the shake so maybe I'm over using it? Definate shift in body heat too... I feel like I'm burning from the inside out, my entire body will start to feel flushed several hours after I drink this. Going to see what I may be doing wrong. Anyone else feel nervous too?

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      5 days ago

      I had a smoothie from Whole Foods that included Maca powder. About 15 minutes after finishing I started feeling really nauseous with an upset stomach as though I wanted to throw up. I ignored the symptoms as I was on my way to the gym. I felt ok when lifting weights, but towards the middle of my cardio I was getting really tired and dizzy and towards the end I was feeling like I was going to black out, which I never feel this way. I came home and I'm just feeling wiped. It's scary because as I read all these negative side effects by everyone. I read Maca can help with blood pressure and I have naturally very low blood pressure and thinking it might have lowered it even more thus the dizziness?? One thing for sure I will avoid Maca moving forward.

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      Margie 7 days ago

      I was exercising regularly and was doing fine , but lack some energy. I read on the benefits of maca and I decided to try it . Now I regret ever doing so. My stomach did not feel the same after taking it for the very first time. I thought I just needed to get used to it I took it to three more times and I stopped because I felt bloated all the time like if I hadn't gone to the restroom. I decided to give it another try thinking maybe it was just that one time, I took it again for almost a week and I stopped because of the same feeling , it's been about a month since I stopped taking it and I have not felt my old self again. I feel bloated all the time and even if I go to the restroom I feel like I haven't gone. I gained some weight and have not been able to lose it even exercising like I used to.

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      Rom master 4 weeks ago

      Hi.

      Nice description of maca, very well presented in clear understanding esspecially for noobs.

      I have just started using maca, and have felt a slight lift in mental energy.

      Only a few days in.

      I attacked dosed on first day with 4 grams. Not recomended unless you know your body and how well it responds, but after first day, i hit 3 grams in morning (one dose per day). I agree with above comment, start small and work upwards, listen to your body. If you feel you need to frontload from experience with other sups of similar modes then ok. If like me your using for anxiety and depression i would recomend to add a few more types of adaptogens to stack for superior energy, clarity, memory, mood, and motivation. I won't be so rude as to discuss other adaptogens here as it would be in bad taste after such a superb job Silver Q has done of discussing and sharing a very difinitive and acurate description of maca and its uses.

      Thanks your for a great post Silver Q

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      Theresa 7 weeks ago

      Maca is great. Don't worry about the simple side effect the benefits are so much more awesome.

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      Tameka 7 weeks ago

      I started taking maca and I love it.... Everyone body is different and I recommend that you focus on your needs and what herbs are right for you. I have all kinds of crazy stuff going on like cyst on both of my ovaries, fibroids, thicken uterus lining. There's always pain for me, but maca has been wonderful for me. The only side effect I've experience is my MC is late, I have tender breast, and some days when I don't eat right I'm gassy. I loved it made me feel awesome mentally, physical and it decrease my appetite. I no longer have those sugar cravings like I use to. I'm TTC but I'm working on healing myself of my other issues naturally. Generally you have to give any herb like a good three months before you discontinue its use. Maca seems to work pretty fast for me...,

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      Mimi 7 weeks ago

      I was expecting my period on 26 may 2017 and it's already 1st June. I have missed it for a week now. I started taking maca pills on the 24 may, I want to know when my period will come? Do I induce with cytotec..Does maca work with cytotec

    • profile image

      Sheyla 2 months ago

      Hello Dear,

      I found out about Maca after several visits to the ER, Urgent Care and OBGYN. I saw over 25 doctors and none was able to determine where my excruciating pain was coming from. They assumed I have Endometriosis and after several attempts with different medication and after living a miserable life because nothing helped, I found information about MACA on YouTube.

      I have been using MACA for about 2.5 weeks now. I am late with my period and I am not sure if is due to pregnancy or not. I have an appt. with my OBGYN next week and will ask for a pregnancy test then. However, I have to say that since the moment I incorporated MACA to my diet my life so far is better. I no longer have been experiencing the pain that kept me awake every night or that woke me up at 3 a.m. every single morning. Furthermore, I have not been to the ER and cancelled some appts. that I had with my OBGYN because I have been pain free. So, what I mean is, everybody is different. I don't know if my pain will return. However, so far I am glad someone shared about MACA. For those of you experiencing pain due to endometriosis, I would recommend that you give it a try. You don't have nothing to lose but the pain that is keeping you away from having a normal life.

      I

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      Gunter Wartmann Canada 2 months ago

      I have taken Maca & Ashwagandha for about 5 days , bad idea . Did get itchy all over my body . NO SLEEP just itchy . Taken Benylin with so so result . I must have a allergy to Maca & Ashwagandha . I will stay away from it .

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      Maria 4 months ago

      I love the clean feeling energy if Maca, but, I have the same reaction as Marissa, entire torso pain, rectal pain with sitting and standing, gass, bloating, upset stomach. These symptoms last for days after a dose. I had this reaction last July when zip took maca two days in a row in a healthy shake and I now am experiencing all the same having taken it again.

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      Jen 6 months ago

      Hi I've been taking me a for a while now and I love it its gives engery keeps me focus an it gave me a bigger butt and boobs which I love.i love meca

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      Jamila 7 months ago

      I have taken Maca for a while now and I mostly take it for the energy benefits. It will cause your period to be late however, especially if you are just starting out. I have been told this is due to it lengthening your luteal phase (therefore helping your fertility) which causes you to ovulate later. I have learned you can avoid this if you don't take it every day. It helped me return to my like clockwork cycle by just taking it Mon-Fri.

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      Laura 7 months ago

      I have been taking Maca Powder for one month now, I take a little bit in my cereal every morning...sometimes I forget, but overall I am taking it pretty constantly. At the beginning I would say my sex drive improved, my hubby and I were going at it more than usual, lol. Then I started getting soar boobs which i thought i was pregnant, but I got my period a week earlier which I am not complaining as it was not pretty regular, sometimes it would go to 40 days without it. I hope it regulated it as I want to have a baby soon. So far will continue to take this product and stop after 6 weeks rather than 3 months....I do not want to over take it :)

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      Jordan 8 months ago

      I took maca for three weeks and my period is now 2 weeks late. All pregnancy test were negative. Just wondering if anyone knows what I can do to regulate myself again or if I will get my cycle back soon? Or will my following cycles will be regular after this. We are ttc and this is devastating

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      Marilu 8 months ago

      I took Maca with Agnus-Castus for a few days, last month, under the advice of a Health Food shop owner. She said Maca would help with my anxiety & lack of energy, whilst Agnus-Castus would help to regulate my periods. Anyway, I was doing some research at the time & found out the benefits that Maca had on periods. As I have anxiety, I decided to stop taking the Agnus-Castus and just take the Maca. I was taking it every other day as I didn't know that you had to ease yourself on it. The Health Food expert & other websites did not tell me that! Anyway, my last period was almost a month late. I had weird cramps for 2-3 weeks (instead of my usual week before my period cramps that I get to signal that my period is coming). It's been 4 days since my last period ended & I'm still spotting. I've never had this happen to me before and it's a bit annoying! I also stopped taking Maca about a month ago, as I read you should give your body a rest from it while you are on/about to get your period. I was thinking of going back on it, on its own. However, I read today that Agnus-Castus also helps with anxiety & depression in women, as well as with periods. That's the thing with natural remedies. There often isn't enough research or people do not know all the benefits & side effects that something has to offer. Maybe I shouldn't have taken both supplements together after all!

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      sandra 8 months ago

      Omg have been taking maca ,have not seen my messes ,and I have been having some weird cramp thinking my menses is coming .have tested for pregnancy but negative. Am so freaking out

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      Maggie 9 months ago

      I had the same effects as emh typed on your comments four days ago. I am perimenopause I was taking Maca, Ashwagandha and L-arginine for hormonal balance and labido. On it for two weeks and started spotting after my cycle had already finished. Stopped taking them. How long will it take for my cycle to go back to normal?

    • profile image

      emh 9 months ago

      OMG Thank you, I have been taking MACA for a month and I am freaking out because my boobs are sore and I have odd cramps and I feel like my period is coming but it is a week early and I am scared I am pregnant but my husband swears there is no possible way with the protection we use! Boobs sore for a month aahhhhh Now I know why, it is the Maca, thank you

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      Maggie 11 months ago

      Hello ladies, I took maca many years ago but my experience then was NOT so good. I took it in pill form-two pills a day, 500mg each. I seemed to experience PMS symptoms to the max...I had PMS already but maca took it to a whole other level. Now I'm in a new phase in my life and I'm in perimenopause. My cycles were normaly 25 to 28 days and now they are all over the place. I'm having almost constant sore breast, shorter cycles 15 to 19 days, dry eyes, seasonal type allergies, burning in mouth like I've burnt my tongue. So I have just started taking maca again today in powdered form-started with 1 teaspoon in a healthy shake. So I'm hoping to bring my cycles back to normal or even longer. I didn't want to start taking too many things at once so I'm starting with the maca and praying it will balance my hormones and help with all of these symptoms I'm currently having. Will keep you ladies posted on my journey.

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      brenda 12 months ago

      Wish I would have read this before, I also have a very regular MC, I took it for 11 days and it just threw me off. I definitely didn't want to mess with my cycle. Has anyone taken it longer and they're cycles were unchanged? I am still waiting for AF.

    • profile image

      Marissa 12 months ago

      Also the night i took it I experienced the weirdest cramps all in my torso even in my butt.. It was the strangest thing. It hurt to sit down, stand up. Anyone else experience this? I'm very scared...

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      Marissa 12 months ago

      Maca root has made my period 6 days late now, my boobs are slo hurting very badly, I took two prefab any tests already and they're negative. This is really scaring me. I'm usually never late. Ever. Does anyone who has gone through the same have any idea when my period will return? I'm throwing the bottle away by the way... I'm just sticking to prenatals.

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 12 months ago

      Hey, Sandi:

      I'm so glad Maca Root worked wonders for you! It's such a nice feelings when you can get rid of your symptoms naturally. Thanks for your comment!

    • profile image

      Sandi 12 months ago

      I have been experiencing perimenopause for 6 years now, hormone induced migraines and night sweats. So, I get a migraine whenever my cycle starts and again when I ovulate. My night sweats started with a few days before my period and slowly increased over the years from a few days, to a week, to two weeks, and now it's every single night!! and it's not a little, I had to change my cloths 2 or 3 times a night. UNTIL I started taking Maca 10 days ago. It starting working by the 3rd day and my night sweats are gone!! I haven't had a period yet either so no migraine and if Maca causes longer intervals between periods thats even better for me. I've been having periods regularly every 24-27 days even though I'm in perimenopause but if this stretches them out then I'll be in heaven!! I would highly recommend this to anyone in my situation. I tried so many things before this and nothing worked (acupuncture for 1 year, chinese herbs, progesterone cream & estrogen boosters, etc). This is a miracle for me!

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      ChariBlue 13 months ago

      Not very satisfied with this product. I added it in my beverages for approximately 5 days. My Cycles are very regular. Now I am 3 days late, spotting, severe cramps and sore breast. Wish I had taken the time to read about the side effects as much as I did about the benefits. This has been very helpful...thanks ladies.

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      ODko 13 months ago

      I do not know how it is working on me. I have irregular cycle since last September. I have hormonal imbalance and i was on several types of hormonal medicines for 2 years. During last 6 months i had only 2 periods. One was came after 93 days and the other was came after 56 days. I had maca for a month about 2 months ago. I stopped taking it for a month. Now it is 60th day of this cycle. No symptoms that it is coming soon. I started taking maca again from last week. I want to make my period regular and want to have a child. I do not know what i should do.

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      Lola 14 months ago

      Has anyone gotten pregnancy-like symptoms from taking Maca? I started taking it and my boobs started hurting, I got dizzy, constipated, and CM increased after ovulation. I stopped for two days and symptoms went away. Started again, CM came back, boob pain increased, dizzy again, constipated. How odd... Now, we were trying, but I have not been able to get pregnant in years, so I just don't know.

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      Kind of Iffy 15 months ago

      I took maca root in pill form for a few months in 2012. I remember it increasing my sex drive TREMENDOUSLY. I did gain weight, about 6 lbs. I also had very long cycles and I really did not like that. I was always anxious before I began taking this but it turned into anxiety shortly after I started taking this. I would constantly be on edge and it would be hard to sleep most nights. The most positive side effect was that I was able to conceive my son after having 1 early miscarriage 5 years earlier and never being pregnant again after that. I also took the maca root through the 1st trimester of my pregnancy and I believe that it prevented me from having a miscarriage. My hair grew stronger and longer and my appetite increased. There Are Benefits To Taking this so I don't discourage it's use but just please be cautious while using it. I would take two 500 MG capsules each day.

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      RoRo 23 months ago

      Maca has definitely helped achieved a muscular body, awesome abs; I have better resitence to my workouts. the side effects I think for me, is the high sex drive "wow"... never been so horny in my live; excellent libido too. and way too much gas. I take 1 spoon in my cereals every 2 days.

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 24 months ago

      Hi, Angela Navarra,

      I know what you mean. Maca root seems to work wonders for some, but it wreaks havoc for others. I'm sorry to hear it didn't work for you.

    • Angela Navarra profile image

      Angela Navarra 2 years ago

      I have been taking Maca for 3 weeks and I did not get a full period - was spotting for 4 days. It gave me the worst cramps i've ever had in my life. My sex drive and energy have increased but not worth it since it has given me an irregular and painful cycle.

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      Janfromcalif 2 years ago

      Good to know -- Re: menstrual cycles and Maca root!

      In April I had 3 and in May I had 0. Been taking it for wayyyy longer than 3 months. Also good to know! I am just around the corner from menopause, so I am glad to know there is another explanation! Very informative site.

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      Jennie 2 years ago

      I like the extra energy but it is giving me long period cycles and freaking me out ....

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      Della 2 years ago

      I've been taking Maca Root for about a week. So far I do not feel any difference except for ... the high content of fiber, which is a positive effect for me. No diarrhea, gassy little. I'll continue taking it.

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      Melissa 3 years ago

      I meant to say I would NOT recommend anything that changes your body this much.

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      Melissa 3 years ago

      I believe Maca made me lactate. I am not pregnant and have not breast fed for over a year. I started taking Maca once a day for a couple of months and well, now I am producing milk!

      I would recommend anything that can make your body change that much

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      Raman 3 years ago

      Maca has helped me concentrate and get my tasks done.

      It gives me a healthy appetite.

      I am better able to socialize with people, as my confidence becomes better.

      I have had experiences where my entire perspective of life changes and I see things in a new, different way.

      Oh, and it gives me gas - a LOT of gas.

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