Maca, Lepidium meyenii Walp. (Brassicaceae), has 13 different varieties, including black maca which is traditionally used to increase fertility in men and women. In fact, Father Bernabé Cobo, a chronicler during the Spanish conquest of Peru, referred to black maca as his property, during the first half of the seventeenth century.
The peruvuan root is highly recommended and used to treat fertility problems and cognitive ability. The consumption increases and improves sperm production, favoring cognitive processes in humans.
This variety grows at high altitudes of the Peruvian Andes, and its main property has been to improve the quality of sperm production, according to research other properties of black maca include: reducing stress and anxiety, the Consumption of this special root is recommended for people with fertility problems, helping to reverse this phenomenon that occurs in men.
This special variety of lepidium can reverse damage caused by degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, improving and enhancing cognitive functions such as memory loss and concentration.
A study of the effects of maca on cognitive function, evaluated the action of three varieties of maca (red, black and yellow) studying using ovariectomized mice, utilizing the test "search for water." This study found that black maca has the best effect on spatial learning.
A second study found that treatment with aqueous poshervido hydroalcoholic extracts of black maca, reversed the cognitive impairment induced by scopolamine in male mice.
Scopolamine is an antagonist of muscarinic receptors that acutely mimic Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, it was shown that both extracts inhibited black maca acetylcholinesterase activity without modifying monoamine oxidase levels.
These results were confirmed using female mice where poshervido and aqueous-alcoholic extracts of black maca were able to reverse the damage memory and learning caused by ovariectomy. In addition, black maca extracts decreased malondialdehyde levels and acetylcholinesterase unmodified monoamine oxidase levels.
The hydroalcoholic extract of black maca also reversed the effects of alcohol (20%) in mice, a dose-response during acquisition trials, in Morris swimming tests.
Furthermore, ascorbic acid and black maca amenguaron the deleterious effects of ethanol on the posentrenamiento tests.
A recent study in rats that were treated with aqueous extracts of yellow maca for 15 days, demonstrated that increasing the dose decreases the escape latency in Morris tests. And also yellow maca reduced butyrylcholinesterase, inhibited lipid peroxidation (oxidative damage) in the brain.
The neuro protective activity of maca has also been studied using experimental in vitro and in live models.
In vitro, pre-treatment with maca extracts (pentánico) improves workability in locust neurons, upon exposure to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) dependent concentration.
It Was observed in rats that pentánico extract has a potential application for neuroprotective strokes in rats by occlusion of the middle cerebral artery.
In humans, maca reduces depression and anxiety scores in apparently healthy adult males. Similarly, maca (3.5 g / d) for six weeks in postmenopausal women reduces psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression.
In male rats that were treated with aqueous extract of yellow and black maca (400, 800 or 1,200 mg maca / kg) for 30 days, there was no effect on the forced swimming test that measures the endurance shown. The test was performed for 30 minutes.
Similarly, there was no ill effect on endurance when supplemented with fermented flour or maca, or aqueous extract of maca using very high doses.
The lipid yellow soluble maca extract (100 mg / kg) for three weeks, increased physical endurance as measured by the time it reached fatigue, 41% of the control value, however, with the hydroalcoholic extract Black maca increased physical resistance was greater than 500%.
The administration of the extract of maca was for 14 days and was significantly faster in improving performance times in a cycling race over 40 km compared to baseline (p = 0.01), but not compared to placebo (p> 0 05).
In ten professional footballers, who for 60 days received three capsules of concentrated fresh maca, 500 mg each day, there was an increase of an average of 10.3% in oxygen consumption after administration.
While both studies in humans show a favorable effect of using maca for endurance, the increases are modest.
The hidro alcoholic extract of black maca can reduce the value of blood glucose by 50% in male rats in which diabetes was induced by the administration of streptozotocin. The yellow maca decreases blood glucose and increases insulin levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
Maca administered as 1% in the diet of animals hypertriglyceridemia improves lipid profiles and increases glucose tolerance.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, over 90 days, evaluated the effects of maca in patients with metabolic syndrome without favorable effects.
In a clinical study for normal males, treated with gelatinized maca there was a reduction in diastolic blood pressure after 12 weeks of treatment. Villagers who traditionally consume maca have lower systolic blood pressure than those who do not consume.
Similarly, maca significantly inhibits angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE) in vitro.
Maca contains high levels of potassium, an important nutrient to reduce the risk of hypertension.
Will require further experimental and clinical studies demonstrating the role of maca in the metabolism of glucose, lipids and blood pressure regulation.
The aqueous extracts obtained after baking maca hypocotyls and the hydroalcoholic extract, are capable of enhancing the mitotic stages of spermatogenesis in rats, after 14 days of treatment.
Similarly, there is a dose-response effect that improves stadiums spermation (VII-VIII) and mitosis in rats after 7 days of treatment. After 42 days, the black maca improved the daily sperm production and sperm mobility increased (p <0.05). No effect for red maca was observed while the yellow maca had an intermediate effect.
Administration for 84 days of black or yellow maca increases sperm count in the epididymis; the three varieties (black, yellow and red) increase sperm count in the vas deferens, without affecting the number of sperm in the testicles.
These results suggest the action of maca is modulating sperm counts.
The greatest effects on spermatogenesis was observed with ethyl acetate fraction, extracted from the black maca hypocotyls; however, this effect was not greater than the total hydroalcoholic extract.
In bulls, food supplementation with maca seemed to improve the quantity, quality and integrity of the DNA of sperm. Similarly, the mixture of extracts of black maca and yacon leaves increased sperm, glucose induced Streptozotocin.
The administration of gelatinized maca on nine healthy males for 4 months, show in doses of 1.5 g or 3.0 g showed increases in seminal volumes, count and sperm motility, after 4 months of treatment the number of motile sperm was increased from 87.72 ± 19.87 million (mean ± standard error of the mean) to 183.16 ± 47.84 million (p <0.05).
The levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin, estradiol and testosterone were not affected by the treatment with maca.
The lack of response in serum testosterone or lack of activation of the androgen receptor by the action of maca suggests that the effects of maca on the quality or quantity of sperm produced by a different route to testosterone and its receptor or FSH. In vitro studies indicate that both methanol extracts as aqueous maca showed estrogenic activity in cell lines MCF-7, and having found no action in the alpha estrogen receptor suggested in the beta estrogen receptors, which still needs to be demonstrated.
One study stated that Black Maca helps to strengthen the endometrium, thus avoiding embryonic ovarian quality assuring the quality of the embryo.
Malnutrition in pregnancy has negative consequences on fertility by increasing embryonic losses and producing the birth of fewer offspring, low birth weight and delayed sexual maturity coming in many cases to influence their reproductive success, researchers have shown that daily administration of Black Maca on pregnant mice with a restricted diet (malnourished) decreases embryonic loss, increasing by 4 times the number of offspring, and optimizing birth weight and normalizes sexual maturation.
A study shows the effectiveness of the Black Maca on fertility, it significantly increases the number of offspring of female mice despite being subjected to dietary restriction, obtaining a very similar percentage to the group that did not have a restricted diet.
However, mice that received aqueous extract of maca had a greater number of offspring than the control group.
The same was observed in guinea pigs treated with 90 g of maca / day for 100 days.
In fish, it has also been shown that maca assists in survival of fry and juveniles.
It has been reported that the use of phytoestrogens in the diet accelerates the time of vaginal opening in mice.
Treatment with maca does not affect this variable, so that consumption of maca hypocotyls does not affect sexual maturation.
Studies on populations that traditionally consume maca indicates that this plant is consumed even during pregnancy. However, it is necessary to conduct studies to determine its safety, even when consumed in the early stages of pregnancy.
Testosterone increases sexual desire in both sexes and helps erection in men.
The decrease in serum testosterone levels is associated with reduced sexual desire and erectile dysfunction, testosterone treatment would be effective in these cases, but the fear of adverse effects makes their use uncommon, which is why we are looking for other treatment options
Maca, in particular lipid extracts, improves the sexual behavior in rodents but these results could not be reproduced in subsequent studies.
The gelatinized maca (1.5 or 3.0 g / day) in normal males, enhances sexual desire after 8 weeks of administration, however for treatment for improving sexual desire, maca extract improves sexual desire in male athletes after two weeks of treatment.
In a double blind study using dry maca extract (2.4 g / day) for twelve weeks it was observed that a small but significant effect for mild erectile dysfunction.
Two clinical trials suggest a beneficial effect of maca on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in healthy or healthy adult males, respectively, while in another clinical trials reviewers state that there is no effect from maca on healthy menopausal women cyclists. However, the result study showed that maca extract significantly improved sexual desire compared to baseline (p = 0.01) or placebo (p = 0.03). A systematic review evaluating the effect of maca in improving human and sexual function states that the evidence is still limited.
In a clinical studies without comparison to placebo, patients induced by the use of inhibitors of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), who consumed 3.0 g / day of maca had improved sexual function tests .
sexual dysfunction, which did not occur with the dose of 1.5 g / day of maca; the maca consumption being well tolerated .
The evaluation of the effect of consumption of maca on sexual function still requires further studies with more appropriate and rigorous methods.