Superfood Maca Root

| Modified on Oct 04, 2023
Superfood Maca Root

Maca root (lepidium meyenii) has gained popularity around the globe a superfood. Grown in the mountains of Peru, South America, this root vegetable is used locally as a food source. However, Maca was a remedy much beloved to the Incans, who reportedly used it to for it's energy enhancing properties, including stimulating the libido.

Today, the superfood has a reputation for enhancing energy, stimulating libido, and balancing hormones. This superfood is useful to both men and women.

The concentration of nutrients alone is a good reason to consider adding some maca to your diet. Maca is a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, and calcium. It also contains b vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, iodine and lignins.

How Can Maca Help Me?

Men and women alike find that maca root helps increase energy. For that reason, it is better to eat maca first thing in the morning or before exercise, and avoiding taking it before bed to reduce the risk of insomnia.

Maca is an adaptogenic food, which means it can help the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. It also helps the body to balance hormones. It does not actually contain hormones, but provides nutrients needed by the body to make hormones. Those with hypothyroid problems and adrenal fatigue find it helpful in many cases. Those with hormone related health issues have also benefited from the use of maca, including the following:

  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • pms
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • acne
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • ovarian cysts

Men and women have both found maca root to help with infertility and low libido.

Maca Cautions

Maca root is not for everyone. Because of its strong effect on hormones, it is not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Maca root does cause side effects in some people.

Possible Side Effects of Maca

  • insomnia
  • weight gain
  • increased menstrual bleeding
  • racing heart
  • headache
  • increased arthritis pain
  • hot flashes
  • anxiety 
  • acne
  • nausea
  • gas

What Kind of Maca Should I Buy?

There are different ways of processing maca root. Gelatinized maca has been boiled and pressurized to extract the starch. The heat and removal of the starch will removed some of the nutritional value. But the benefit of gelatinized maca is that it is less likely to cause digestive distress and the remaining nutrients are more concentrated. Raw maca is, of course, less processed.

Does the Color of Maca Root Matter?

Maca is a root vegetable. It looks like a turnip. Just as turnips can come in different colors, there is variety among maca roots as well. The skin of the root comes in red (purple), yellow and black varieties. Each of these varieties of maca root are considered superfoods. For most conditions, any of the varieties may be used. Because the yellow root is the most commonly grown, it tends to be the least expensive.

While "maca root" sounds exotic and mysterious to many people around the globe, it is a vegetable that is consumed as a matter of course in Peru. In other countries, depending on climate, other root vegetables are regularly grown and consumed, like beets, turmeric, ginger, garlic, carrots and yams. Many root vegetables are concentrated with nutrition and are excellent for your health. In Peru, maca is usually cooked before it is consumed, just as in other cultures, root vegetables, like yams and beets are usually cooked before consumed. Some people, especially those with digestive problems, find that the cooked root is easier to digest and the nutrients are more easily assimilated. If you have trouble consuming raw maca, consider using gelatinized maca, or use your maca root powder in baked goods, or add it to porridge before cooking it, so the maca will cook as well.

You may need to experiment around to find the maca root and preparation method that best suits your own health.

Organic maca root can be bought in bulk and added to smoothies, yogurt, baked goods etc.  It can be purchased in capsule form as well.

Maca Root Recipes

Cocoa Maca Truffles

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup maca root powder
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)


  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • coconut flakes
  • Melt or soften coconut oil.  Stir in vanilla and honey. Mix in peanut butter.  Mix in maca root powder and cacao powder. Mix in chia seeds, sea salt and cinnamon if desired. Roll into balls. Roll in coconut flakes if desired. If you make a total of 24 balls, you will have about 1 teaspoon of maca root powder in each ball.
  • Place on parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until hard. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Use within two weeks.

Maca Fruit Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana or 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup milk, almond milk, plain yogurt or plain milk kefir
  • 1 tablespoon honey or blackstrap molasses
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of raw cacoa powder
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons maca root
  • Blend all ingredients in a blender. 

Have you tried maca root for your health? We would love to hear how it works for you, including side effects!

Depression, Hormones, Stress, Energy

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Blue Star (Tennessee) on 04/23/2022

Maca is an adaptogen.

Due to depression, I have been low energy for years. Maca has helped on many levels.

I take a combination of black, red and yellow maca in the morning. @ 3000 mg. My energy level, mood and stress have balanced out. Post menopause, maca has boosted my libido and the vaginal dryness is subsiding. The belly fat is melting off.

Maca works by nourishing the endocrine system which in turn regulates the hormones. It balances the adrenals from exhaustion. It also balances the thyroids, parathyroids, pituitary and pineal glands.

It is good for male and female libido. Many women dealing with fertility issues tend to become pregnant while using maca. It is good for treating fibroids, PCOS and cystic acne.

Maca Side Effects

2 User Reviews

Posted by Jay (Usa) on 08/16/2023

Maca root ( potential side effect)

My mom took maca root for about a week for menopause symptoms ( itching hot flashes mood swings ECT.) However she is very sharp mentally and fully cognitive.when taking maca root she started showing dementia like symptoms within 2-3 days couldn't think clearly, started slurring, kept forgetting what she was doing almost falling ( she wasn't dizzy) ect. As soon as she stopped taking it she returned back to her normal self ( she can run circles around me)and is fully coherent again.

I took it recently for hormonal mood swings ( I was desperate and had 3 settings okay, crying, and murderous)and experienced almost the same thing within 30mins of taking it plus I felt like I was drunk and slurring and foggy minded plus it made the moodiness worse.Will not be taking again. It may work for some but not for us.

***However I couldn't find any mention of these side effects so I figured people should know it can cause mental or cognitive issues ( temporarily maybe??? as we did not take it long)***

Ps Mom is 63(F), I'm 25 (F)

She is in excellent health. I am dealing with a hormone imbalance after a cyst however I am very healthy as well. ( She still runs circles around me)

Replied by Roxanne

I have had success with maca powder. It has helped me with balancing my hormones. I guess everyone is different, but it works for me!

Maca Side Effects
Posted by Joanne (Ct) on 08/19/2016

I have been adding a tablespoon of Maca powder to my green smoothies for the past week. It has definitely raised my energy levels, but about 24 hours after taking it, I am getting a very large bump/pimple/boil popping up on my face. 3 so far! First one was in the exact center of my chin, the 2nd one was exactly under my left nostril and the third one is about an inch off the right side of my mouth. A triangle. Very amusing... not. I have been applying hydrogen peroxide soaked cotton balls when they pop up and it's healing them before they grow into gynormous things. Each one happens exactly 24 hours after I drink the smoothie, like clockwork. I would love to continue taking maca, but would like to know if anyone knows why I am getting these gigantic pimply things forming. I have read that acne is one of the side effects of Maca. But there must be a reason for it. Is my liver detoxing?

Replied by Steve

Your body may be detoxing from the Maca. Maybe try cutting back to a teaspoon. Also some people do better on gelatinized organic Maca as well.

Replied by Joanne

Thank you for your reply, Steve. I stopped taking Maca a few days ago because I think it was really affecting my hormones (got my period two weeks early and that NEVER happens). Also I feel that it made my lymphatic system very sluggish. Skin cleared up after I stopped within a day, no more breakouts.

If I try it again, I will do a much smaller amount and try the gelatinized one. The one I was taking was raw organic maca powder. But I am going to proceed cautiously with this. Thanks again.

Replied by Darby
(Des Moines, Iowa)

Maybe the capsule form would be better for you. I haven't tried maca yet but I've read about it from Raintree when I was looking for more info on chanca piedra. I am taking chanca piedra capsules because it's more convenient for me. Just look for a reliable source of maca so you will get the genuine product.

Replied by Josephine

Not sure how old you are, but I can tell you my experience. I took it in my early 40s for peri-menopause. I really didnt notice any difference so I stopped. Now that I am in my early 50's I started taking it again after getting my very regular period every 18days. The maca brought it right back to 25days or so within a month. It has eliminated most of my mood swings before my period, a huge plus. It really does kill several birds with one stone since its an adaptogen. I usually take it 3 weeks on and 1 week off but got lazy and just took it all the time and started getting sore breasts. Read that upping magnesium helps with that too. Since I was getting lazy taking 6-8 mag pills (100mg each) I got back on that horse too and the sore breasts went away with in day. I think I read that on EC.

I also think you have to take the "cooked" maca vs the raw. Dr. Mercola has also recommends maca for "the change".

Replied by Vivian Hatfield
(Kansas City)

If you are getting boils which I'm prone to, try Boilgone. Best remedy ever and you can look it up on Earth Clinic.