How Maca Can Help Balance Your Hormones

Whether you’re regularly fearing that “time of the month” (and the two weeks preceding it), trying for a baby, or undergoing the unpleasant symptoms of menopause - no matter which stage of life you are in - you can benefit from the hormone balancing effects of Maca, the ancient root of the Inca.

Read this post to discover:

  • How a remote community still thrives with almost half the oxygen level of the rest of the world.
  • The way that Maca helps balance hormones (and an easy explanation of how your endocrine system actually works).
  • Others sharing how Maca helped them with PMS, breakouts, headaches, painful cramps and more - real life testimonials!
  • The answers to your commonly asked questions.

At over 14,000 feet above sea level, high up in the Peruvian Andes, there is almost 50% less oxygen in the air and the harsh barren landscape reminds one of an uninhabited planet where life had once existed.

Barely anything grows at such elevations, apart from one sturdy plant - the Maca root.

We are in the homeland of the Chopccas community - descendants of the legendary Inca - who have lived in this remote land for centuries.

After weeks of intensive training our altitude sickness is still unavoidable - our hearts are pounding, the headache is excruciating, we keep forgetting our trail of thought and the feelings of sickness and vertigo are overpowering.

Despite so little oxygen, high altitude, harsh weather conditions and limited diet, the Chopccas are some of the happiest, most positive, strongest and resilient people we have ever met.

The locals here walk long distances on foot and the community regularly comes together to build new homes for newly weds - something we could not imagine doing in our state! 

Juan, the Chief of the Fields, tells us their health and stamina comes from eating Maca - an ancient sacred food of their ancestors - that has been growing wildly on this vast lands. We are invited to a local home where we are served different coloured Maca. After the meal we feel we are finally getting back to normal.

The children in the families here are abundant - our harvester Cornelio tells us he has 6, which he considers very normal. It is an ancient Inca tradition to offer Maca to newly weds.

That night, for the first time in several days we are able to sleep well. The memories of the joyful Chopccas people, their stories, colourful homes and the large Maca roots, with an aroma of butterscotch, all keep springing to mind.

Remote community that eat Maca daily thrive at 14,000 ft, with almost 50pct less oxygen and harsh weather conditions

The Big Reason Our Hormones Are Out of Whack

At over 14,000 feet, with 40% less atmospheric pressure than in New York, London or Singapore and almost 50% less oxygen to feed our brain and bodily processes - our Maca harvesters are doing something that has not been possible for most of us - thriving in the face of chronic stress.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 77% of the US population regularly suffer the physical symptoms caused by stress, and 73% suffer the psychological symptoms.1

Ongoing stress experienced at work, home, in traffic and other everyday situations causes the levels of cortisol - our stress hormone - to be continuously elevated. Cortisol blocks the pituitary gland (our “master gland”) from releasing LH (luteinizing hormone) - which is needed in women to trigger ovulation and in men to help produce testosterone.

Women’s hormones such as oestrogen, progesteron, prolactin are all significantly disrupted as a result of stress - the body produces cortisol at the expense of these hormones.2

This results in decreased sex drive, irregular cycles and “difficult periods” for women, lowered sperm count, and fertility issues.3

Stress disrupts hormones, resulting in painful periods, decreased sex drive and fertility issues.

Maca works as an adaptogen - defined as a class of plants that strengthen the body - physiologically and emotionally - bringing it to a higher state of resistance in the face of stress4.

Adaptogens support and nourish the adrenal glands and are believed to normalise the levels of cortisol, which in turn helps them secrete the right amount of hormones.

Notably, a 2006 study in the International Journal of Biomedical Science stated that the effects of Maca led to “a significant decrease in blood cortisol levels in a short and long term trials”.5

Scientists Solve The Secret To Maca’s Powerful Effects

The scientific research done on Maca over the past half-century attributes its famed effects to its ability to balance our endocrine and nervous systems.

Moreover, Maca has been shown to balance hormones in both men and women regardless of their age.

Peruvian Biologist Gloria Chacon de Popovici, who studied Maca for decades, explains that it acts by stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.6

The hypothalamus is a small area of the brain with a big responsibility of continuously bringing the body into a balanced, normal state - the state called “homeostasis” - and keeping it that way.

It does so by releasing its own hormones as well as acting as a “manager” of the overall hormone production in the body.

By stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary gland Maca helps balance our entire endocrine system.

The hypothalamus regulates the pituitary gland - often called our “master gland”.

In turn the pituitary releases hormones to stimulate the following:

  • The adrenal glands through adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
  • The thyroid gland by producing the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • Ovaries and testicles through releasing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • Release of oxytocin - a hormone involved in a series of activities such sexual pleasure and orgasm, erection and ejaculation, contracting the uterus during childbirth and stimulating breast milk production
  • Breast milk production by releasing prolactin
  • Production of growth hormone (GH): in adults it supports a healthy body shape, growing the muscle mass and managing the fat distribution. In children it promotes healthy growth.7

From the above mentioned you can see how by nourishing the hypothalamus and pituitary (“the master gland”) the whole endocrine system is stimulated to work optimally.

Maca helps our "master gland" produce the right amount of hormones to keep the body in a balanced state.

Dr. Chacon found that Maca contained four unique alkaloids that were responsible for its effects on balancing hormones.

How Has Maca Helped Others Balance Hormones?

“Women with menstrual irregularities using Maca have experienced greater consistency, while women with hot flashes, mood swings…menopause symptoms have diminished dramatically using Maca” Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator

PMS (or Premenstrual Syndrome)

PMS relates to a group of symptoms that may occur within two weeks before a women’s period.

Women who experience PMS may typically suffer from one or more of the symptoms listed below.

The main reasons for PMS are insufficient production of the hormones progesterone and allopregnenolone, excess oestrogen or testosterone. The former two hormones actually keep testosterone in balance too.

These hormones are secreted by the ovaries and adrenal glands in the body, that are stimulated by the “master gland” - pituitary.

As we discussed above, Maca acts on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis - that work as a team to stimulate the ovaries and the adrenals to produce the correct amount of these hormones.

Menstrual Pains and Cramps

I just want to tell you that I am IN LOVE with the Maca! I am feeling a lot less moody and all my menstrual cramps and aches and pains are gone like they never existed. I can hardly believe it” @tahirah_91 on Instagram

“Maca sold by @organicburst helped me… It’s balanced my period out so it’s lighter and the cramps aren't so crazy painful” @vida_del_rey on Instagram

Anxiety

“I don’t think I could live without @organicburst now. This has dropped my anxiety levels, balanced my hormones and replaced my daily caffeine intake (which was a lot). I can think more clearly and studying has become much easier.” @alynamariecash on Instagram

“I feel so much calmer and less anxious when I take Maca Kerry No Spleen on Facebook

“I noticed how I feel more balanced and less anxious and it helps me to keep a positive mood throughout the day” @pixie_dust1912 on Instagram

Irritability and Mood Swings

Truly is amazing, I don’t ever feel like it’s that time of the month even when it is. No mood swings or any type of cramps. The taste is amazing too!” Burster @kassidyxlynn, on Instagram

“As my exams approached I decided to try the Maca and though it took me a week to notice I must say it became one of my all time favourites because it was the only thing that helped me getting my stress level under control and especially my PMS. I am no longer looking in the calendar to watch out for the moody time of the month.” Burster @pixie_dust1912 on Instagram

Fatigue and Tiredness

Thank you @organicburst. I’ve been using Maca for about two months now and I am noticing that my energy level increased.. less PMS and moodiness. So grateful for this product” @breatheloveheal on Instagram

“Your amazing Maca has helped me start to kick my coffee habit & more importantly helps my PMS symptoms. I used to get so sad/tired on my period…and now I can have Maca to make me feel better AND give me energy” Shelby Kowalski on Facebook

Hormonal Breakouts

Breakouts that regularly occur before, during and right after the periods are linked to the hormonal fluctuations in the body.

Yes! Those dreaded hormone spots! Maca helps me manage my symptoms - I can’t get over how powerful it is, especially the week before my period” Bo @bos.kitchen on Instagram

Headaches and Migraines

“I get hormonal migraines and I started drinking your Maca and I have not had one since! It’s been almost 3 months @organicburst” @moxycapone on Instagram

You know your headaches and migraines are hormonal when they are correlated to your cycle, usually occurring before or during the period.

Most hormonal headaches occur due to an imbalance in the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone. This may mean an oestrogen excess in the body due to chronic stress, too much of oestrogen-mimicking compounds such as xenoestrogens from the plastic bottles, or insufficient levels of progesterone secreted by the body.8

Maca acts by nourishing the pituitary gland to work optimally, the pituitary gland stimulates the ovaries and the adrenal glands to produce the correct amounts of oestrogen and progesterone according to what the body needs.

Irregular and Heavy Periods

“Love this stuff…I was having irregular periods and then eventually none at all. I started taking this and my periods started up again like clockwork. My hormones had been so out of whack for so long until now. Thank you @organicburst” @stephiepatel on Instagram

“I loooooove Maca! It’s so true about the benefits, I’m always regular and in the mood” SJ Lee on Facebook

According to Lara Briden, ND - author, practising naturopathic doctor and an expert on hormonal balancing: “Regular periods require a surge of female hormones in the right place and the right time. If stress is high, then oestrogen and progesterone cannot be there at the right time. They are depleted because the body needs cortisol instead. The result is irregular or difficult periods.

Cortisol affects periods in other ways. Excess cortisol suppresses thyroid hormone, which causes cycle irregularity, and excess cortisol makes the body resistant to insulin, which in turn causes failure to ovulate.”9

Excess stress hormone cortisol can lead to irregular periods. Maca has been found to lower cortisol.

Getting off the pill

I have been on the pill for too long and once I got off them…I was a hot mess! Maca helps me greatly with my hormone balance and gives me TONS of energy” Karla Scott on Facebook

“This helped me get off the birth control pills I had been on for years. It eased my body off them” @Crystelle.Ranhoff on Instagram

The pill supplies the body with synthetic progesterone and oestrogen. These are pseudo hormones that are now listed as Class 1 carcinogens by the Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organisation.10 For comparison - other Class 1 carcinogens include radioactive substances, tobacco, Hepatitis B and C viruses etc.

The pill is now listed as Class 1 Carcinogen - alongside tobacco, radiation and Hepatitis B.

Oftentimes when stopping the pill women experience a series of “side effects” such as the list we discussed above. In reality the pill is simply masking underlying hormone issues such as PCOS, endometriosis and other long-term imbalances.11

Maca does not supply the body with synthetic hormones, but instead it acts on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis that in turn stimulate the relevant glands such as the ovaries and adrenals to secrete the right amount of hormones as required to achieve the state of balance (“homeostasis”).

Fertility

“This product has changed my life. Maca is amazing for male fertility health” Rob Tomlinson on Twitter

“I am sure it helped us conceive our youngest daughter as I have PCOS and was told I am lucky to have one child let alone two. We tried for a year with no results but gave up. I started taking Maca and on the first try I was pregnant. Love the stuff” Jade Taylor on Facebook

Maca has been used for both female and male fertility in Peru for thousands of years. It was traditionally given as a gift to newly weds. Couples that have difficulties in conceiving eat Maca until the wife gets pregnant.12

Consuming Maca is a big reason why the Chopccas community have abundant children and have survived through the centuries in such a remote, extreme altitude, location in the Peruvian Andes, despite ongoing civil unrest in the area and a restricted diet.

Now published studies are supporting this ancient usage of Maca.

As such, a study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology showed that “Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility” in men who took either 1500mg or 3000mg per day for 4 months.13

Whereas the former result is self-explanatory, the sperm motility refers to how easy it is for the sperm to reach an egg in order to fertilise it.

Sexual Desire and Performance

Maca is well known for its aphrodisiac properties, helping both men and women and thus often called “Nature’s Viagra”.

A 2009 study that involved male cyclists taking just 2 g of Maca or placebo for just 14 days resulted in a significant improvement in their sexual desire as a result of taking Maca compared to placebo.14

Another study published in the Journal Andrologia showed that men with mild erectile dysfunction who took 2.4 g of Maca experienced better sexual performance and well-being both physically and psychologically compared to placebo.15

More amazing effects of Maca on improving libido and sexual dysfunction were shown in a 2008 study done on mostly women aged 23-49.16

Studies show Maca significantly improves sexual desire and performance in both men and women.

Menopause

“Many women who have tried everything from prescription HRT to phytoestrogens find that using maca literally gives them back their life.” Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator.

A 2008 study published in the Journal of Menopause found that 3.5 grams (a heaped teaspoon) of Maca consumed for 6 weeks caused a significant reduction in psychological symptoms, decreasing anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunctions in menopausal women - in comparison with both baseline and placebo.17

In another clinical study where early-postmenopausal women took 2 grams of Maca a day (2/3 of a teaspoon) - Maca “relieved symptoms of menopausal discomfort, (hot flushes and night sweating in particular)” and “exhibited a distinctive function peculiar to adaptogens, providing an alternative non-hormonal plant option to reduce dependence on hormone therapy programs (HRT).”18

If transitioning from HRT to Maca it’s important to do it slowly and over a period of one month.

Maca is also beneficial for postmenopausal women too, even if they have not been experiencing symptoms of hormone deficiency earlier on.19

Studies found Maca relieving hot flushes, night sweats and psychological symptoms of menopause.

Not All Maca Is Created Equal

The effects you’ll experience from taking Maca directly depend upon the location where it’s grown, and the quality of its cultivation, drying and preparation.

Having done extensive research into the origins, types and preparations of Maca - we have discovered that the best Maca is the one that is prepared authentically, the way the local peoples of Peru have been enjoying it for millennia and satisfying the below conditions:

  • Specific elevation and dark black soil. For powerful effects Maca needs to be grown at altitudes of over 12,800 ft (3900 m). Our Maca is grown over 14,000ft (4270 m) above sea level in the perfect dry, dark black soil.
  • Unique mix of 4 Maca varieties - the indigenous Peruvians know that to fully experience Maca’s effects one needs to consume all 4 of its ecotypes - yellow, red, black and purple. On our community-owned Maca farm all 4 Maca varieties grow together in nature, which also makes the plants stronger. We use a unique mix of the Maca colours for optimal benefits and flavour.
  • Traditional Peruvian preparation - our Maca undergoes sun-drying, and a month of fermentation in solar tents to develop its unique cameral notes and powerful benefits.
  • Ethically sourced - we believe that in order to bring you its harmonising and balancing benefits the Maca itself has to carry harmonious energy and be a result of a wholesome activity.

Since so many people have turned to Maca for its benefits, it has sadly attracted companies in Peru that see it as a lucrative business rather than nature’s gift to help people. This has resulted in vast areas in the Junín province - that were once owned by indigenous people - now being owned by large companies growing Maca on mass for export to Western health food brands and chain stores.

On the contrary, our Maca grows on a land that is fully-owned by a small local community of Inca descendants that have lived on their ancestors’ land for centuries.

Our Maca is a result of an ethical project that has created over 300 well-paid jobs, reunited families and dramatically improved the living conditions of the remote indigenous community.

We believe that this loving, wholesome, content energy is passed on to you when taking our Maca.

Maca Does Not Give You External Hormones

Unlike other plants that are commonly used to help balance hormones naturally such as soy, liquorice root, yams, black cohosh and flax - Maca does not contain any plant hormones.20

Instead it supports the body in producing the correct amount of hormones to maintain the state of balance (“homeostatis”).

How To Take Maca For Hormonal Balance

“I use Maca daily, in my morning porridge, smoothies, but mostly just with warm water (as I love the taste) or almond milk + cacao = Maca Mocha. Delicious” @breatheloveheal on Instagram

Since Maca is a natural food - and all of us are different in terms of our diet, state of health, environment and lifestyle - it’s therefore key to find the serving size of Maca that fits your body and your goals.

Our recommended serving size of Maca is 1 teaspoon a day. After 1-2 weeks of taking Maca daily you can either remain on this serving or start building up to 2 or 3 teaspoons depending on what you feel you may need.

So many of our Bursters love the taste of our Maca - they describe it as a malty, earthy, caramel flavour.

You can easily incorporate Maca into your daily routine - simply add it to your porridges, yoghurts, smoothies, bowls, soups, dips or mix with a milk of your choice for a delicious Maca Latte!

For more inspiration check out our easy recipes here >

Which Other Bursts Can Be Taken With Maca?

For optimal results on your balancing journey - Maca is good to be combined with our Chlorella, Chia and/or Spirulina. They can be taken together in one smoothie or spaced out throughout the day according to your lifestyle and preferences.

To achieve other health and lifestyle goals check out our pre-made bundles with Maca (and you can save 10% too) >

Can you take Maca when on the pill?

Yes. Maca does not supply the body with hormones and it does not have any known drug interactions.

Could Maca raise my testosterone/oestrogen - I already have too much of it?

No, Maca does not supply the body with external hormones, nor has it been observed to have a one-directional action, where it may increase any of the “undesired” hormones.

Instead it helps your body produce the correct amount of hormones for your age and situation in order to achieve homeostasis (via the above described mechanism).

As such - the above mentioned 2008 study in the Journal of Menopause found the improvements to the wellbeing of the studied menopausal women without any increases in their testosterone or oestrogen levels.21

In men, Maca has been shown to increase sperm count and sexual desire without necessarily increasing their testosterone or oestrogen levels.22

Does Maca have any side effects?

No. Maca has been used in Peru as a staple food for thousands of years without any reported side effects.

Toxicity studies done in both Peru and the USA have confirmed Maca as a safe food without any toxic effects.23

Maca is NOT a known allergen and is approved for safe human consumption by the European Food Safety Authority.

However, if you have a condition and are in doubt, we recommend checking with your health practitioner before starting to consume Maca.

Do I need to stop taking Maca or can I take it continuously?

Native Peruvians have been consuming Maca daily for thousands of years. As it does not contain hormones and has been found to have no toxicity it can be consumed on a daily basis.

 

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REFERENCES:

[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/stress-statistics

[2] The Stress-Sex Connection, Andrew Goliszek Ph.D., Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201412/the-stress-sex-connection

[3] How Stress Affects Female Hormones, Sensible Alternative Hormone Clinic http://www.sensible-alternative.com.au/female-hormones/stress-hormones-affect-female-hormones

[4] Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator.

[5] Short and long-term physiological responses to maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon)) H.O. Meissner et al. Feb 2006 Int J Biomed Sci: 2 (1), 13-28.

[6] Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator.

[7] An Overview of the Hypothalamus, Robert M. Sargis MD, PhD, Endocrine Web https://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-hypothalamus

[8] Menstrual migraines and other hormonal headaches, Dr. Julie Schwartzbard, MD, Women’s Health Network, https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/brain-and-memory-health/menstrual-migraines.aspx

[9] How Stress Affects Female Hormones, Sensible Alternative Hormone Clinic http://www.sensible-alternative.com.au/female-hormones/stress-hormones-affect-female-hormones

[10] World Health Organization Classifies Contraceptives as Highly Carcinogenic, Life Site News, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/world-health-organization-classifies-contraceptives-as-highly-carcinogenic

[11] This Is What Happens When You Stop Taking The Pill, Dr Chris Beer, GP, My Body+Soul http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health-advice/the-pill-aftereffects-what-happens-when-you-come-off-birth-control/news-story/dc40e9dbaa2b078c0d0c731323297360

[12] Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator.

[13] Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Gonzales GF1, Cordova et al. Asian J Androl. 2001 Dec;3(4):301-3.

[14] A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. Stone M1, Ibarra A et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Dec 10;126(3):574-6. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

[15] Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial. Zenico T1, Cicero AF et al. Andrologia. 2009 Apr;41(2):95-9.

[16] A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Dording CM1, Fisher L et al. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.

[17] Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Brooks NA1, Wilcox G et al. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62.

[18] Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (III) Clinical responses of early-postmenopausal women to Maca in double blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled, crossover configuration, outpatient study. H. O. Meissner, A. Mscisz. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006 Dec; 2(4): 375–394.

[19] Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator.

[20] Beth Ley, MACA: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator.

[21] Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Brooks NA1, Wilcox G et al. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62.

[22] Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Gustavo F. Gonzales. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 193496.

[23] Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Gustavo F. Gonzales. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 193496.

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