Maca contains active principles that may be responsible for its potential to act as a reproductive health enhancer, aphrodisiac, adaptogen, immunostimulant, anabolic, antidepressant and mood enhancer. Experimental and clinical studies have affirmed some of Maca’s health benefits.
Reproductive Health: Maca may enhance reproductive health in both men and women. Animal studies show that Maca increased litter size in female mice and spermatogenesis (sperm production) in male mice. Human studies also show that Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility in adult men. Maca’s reproductive health benefit does not appear to be through modulation of the reproductive hormones. Benzyl isothiocyanate and limited amounts of p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate have been identified as compounds that may be responsible for Maca’s ability to improve reproductive health. Maca is also rich in iodine, a deficiency of which has been related to decrease reproductive ability.
Prostate Health: Animal studies suggest that Maca may promote prostate health and reduce the risk of benign prostate hyperplasia. This effect is apparently beyond dihydroxytestosterone (DHT) conversion and may be due to its glucosinolates content. Glucosinolates are known to have both antiproliferative and proapoptotic actions.
Energy and Stamina: Maca is nutritious and rich in protein, carbohydrate, and essential minerals and vitamins. As a result, it can boost energy. Maca works as an adaptogen to help restore balance and buffer the effects of stress.
Mood Enhancement: Animal studies show that Maca may improve mental function by inhibiting the activities of the brain chemical acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Human studies also show that Maca can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women, independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity. Maca is known to contain flavonoid glycosides, which may partly explain its ability to control mood swings associated with PMS and menopause.
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