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Maca is an indigenous Andean plant that belongs to the brassica (mustard) family. Maca is a vegetable that has been cultivated as a root crop for at least 2,000 years and used both nutritionally and medicinally. It can be found wild in Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina, but has primarily been cultivated in the highlands of the Peruvian Andes. According to folk belief, Maca is an aphrodisiac and enhances sexual drive in humans and domestic animals, which tends to be reduced at higher altitudes.


Maca is known as an adaptogen, broadly contributing to overall well being and a healthy mood. Additionally, maca root has been touted to normalize energy levels and endurance and support a healthy libido.

Uses of Maca


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Alkaloids, Saponins, and Tannins

Parts Used

  • Root

Important precautions

Maca may alter the levels of sex hormones and may interfere with the effects of herbs taken for oral contraception. Glucosinolates may cause goiter if taken in excess combined with a low-iodine diet.

Additional Resources

Brooks NA et al. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec; 15(6): 1157-62.

Dording CM et al. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.

Gonzales GF et al. Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru- from tradition to science. Forsch komplementmed. 2009 Dec; 16(6): 373-80.

Zenico T et al. Andrologia. 2009 April; 41(2):95-9.

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