Maca is a plant that originated in the Peruvian Andes mountains. It is a natural remedy that can be used to treat certain health issues, including infertility and low sex drive.

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Maca is a plant that some populations in Peru have used for thousands of years as food and medication.

In the last few decades, maca has grown in popularity. This article explains what maca root is, highlights some potential benefits, and answers whether it’s safe to add to your diet.

The maca plant, also called Lepidium meyenii or “Peruvian ginseng,” is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.

Native to the high Andean plateaus, it has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and can survive the harsh weather of the Peruvian Andes above 4,000 meters (m) or 13,123 feet (ft).

Traditionally, the Andean people used maca as food or as medication to treat respiratory conditions and rheumatic disease.

Maca products have seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to claims they may help increase libido and fertility. Maca is now grown worldwide, including in China’s Yunnan province.

It contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, macamides, macaridine, alkaloids, and glucosinolates. That said, research on its benefits has been mixed, with more studies needed to support the claims.

Here are some potential benefits of maca.


People in Peru have used maca for thousands of years as food and natural medication.

It’s still unclear whether maca has any real benefit for treating low libido, sexual dysfunction, or infertility in either males or females. The available studies have shown mixed results.

What does Maca do for a man’s sexual function?

Although not all studies have been conducted on human subjects, some studies have found it may benefit males with low libido or low sexual desire.

Another 2019 study also found that combining Maca with Chinese chive seed (Allium tuberosum) improved erectile dysfunction in male mice.

A 2020 study also found that taking 2 grams (g) of maca per day for 12 weeks significantly improved semen concentration compared with a placebo treatment. However, there was no significant difference in sperm motility between the treatment and placebo groups.

Are sex and gender the same thing?

People often use the terms sex and gender interchangeably, but they have different meanings:

  • “Sex” refers to the physical characteristics that differentiate male, female, and intersex bodies.
  • “Gender” refers to a person’s identity and how they feel inside. Examples include man, woman, nonbinary, agender, bigender, genderfluid, pangender, and trans. A person’s gender identity may be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
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What does maca root do for a woman’s sexual function?

One older 2015 study of 45 women who experienced antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction also found that taking 3,000 milligrams (mg) of maca root per day for 12 weeks significantly improved sexual function and libido compared with a placebo.

That said, more well-designed studies are needed to investigate the effects of maca on female libido and sexual function.


Limited evidence suggests that maca may help improve sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and fertility. However, research is limited at this time.

Menopause happens naturally in people who menstruate. It’s the time of life when menstrual periods stop permanently.

Research suggests that maca may benefit people who are going through menopause by helping alleviate some symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep.


According to limited findings, maca may help reduce some menopausal symptoms. However, there’s not enough evidence to determine the true effectiveness.

Limited evidence suggests that maca may help improve energy levels and enhance mood in some populations.

A found it helped regulate exercise-induced fatigue in mice. Another 2022 study on mice came to a similar conclusion.

A separate 2022 study also showed that maca extract might be able to reduce fatigue in young adult women. Meanwhile, a 2016 study of 175 people living at either low or high altitudes demonstrated that taking 3 g of red or black maca per day for 12 weeks improved mood and energy scores compared with a placebo.

That said, there’s currently not enough evidence to draw firm conclusions on the impact of maca on either energy or mood.


Some evidence suggests that maca may help improve energy and positively affect mood. However, research is limited at this time.

Human research investigating the potential health benefits of maca is limited.

However, initial findings from animal studies suggest maca may affect health in the following ways:

Keep in mind that there’s currently no evidence that these potential benefits apply to humans, so research on humans would be needed to investigate them.


Limited evidence from animal research suggests that maca may have benefits for BPH, brain health, and skin health.

Maca is available in many forms, including capsules and powders.

You can add maca powder to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, energy bars, and more. It has a nutty, butterscotch-like taste, so it pairs well with many sweeter flavors.

The optimal dose for medicinal use has not been established. However, the dosage of maca root powder used in studies generally ranges from 1.5–3 g per day.

If you want to make sure you choose higher quality maca or get a personalized dosage recommendation, speak with a qualified healthcare professional such as a registered dietitian or physician.


Maca root powder is widely available and easy to incorporate into your diet.

What happens if I take Maca every day?

Maca is generally safe to eat as part of your regular diet. If you take it as a supplement, research has found it to be safe in amounts of up to 3 g per day when used for no longer than four months.

That said, a 2018 study examined a case of a woman whose blood lead concentration increased after consuming a maca supplement.

Who should not take Maca?

It’s important that you research the product you use, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. It isn’t unknown whether maca is safe to consume during pregnancy or nursing. If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, ask your doctor before trying maca.

Does Maca increase testosterone?

Research shows that there’s a statistical difference in terms of testosterone levels between subjects who used maca root and those who didn’t. The researchers concluded that maca root may be a good treatment for some people with hypogonadism.

How long does it take for Maca to work?

The length of time before you see a positive effect depends on the type of effect you’re interested in. That said, various research studies have found noticeable positive effects after 12 weeks of Maca use.

Although research on the potential health effects of maca is limited, some evidence suggests that taking maca supplements may help improve certain aspects of sexual health and fertility and may help reduce menopause symptoms, and improve mood in certain people.

However, scientists need to study maca more extensively before it can be recommended for treating any health condition or symptom.

If you’re interested in taking Maca, consult a healthcare professional first. They can help you determine whether maca is the right choice for your health needs.

Just one thing

Try this today: Add maca powder to energy balls for a delicious and filling snack option. You can find many recipes for energy balls online to suit your tastes. In them, you can combine maca with nutritious ingredients such as hemp, cacao, and flaxseed.

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