What is Maca?
Maca root powder might seem like just another "trending" superfood, but the benefits of maca root have been long known. This ancient natural remedy happens to be very well researched, and that research has revealed its hormone-balancing, hormonal symptom-soothing properties.
Maca root (most usually found as maca powder) is an adaptogen, which means it supports your whole endocrine system to produce the right amounts of hormones you need. Maca can help your body “adapt” to stressful life situations that might otherwise deplete your body’s hormone production and cause symptoms.
Maca root powder is a wonderful resource to have at hand, especially at certain critical times in your life when its properties can be the most beneficial. That said, maca is not for everyone and anyone, all of the time. Digging deeper and knowing more about this powerful supplement will help you to get the most out of it.
Does Maca “cure” hormone imbalance?
While Maca can certainly be beneficial, we don't recommend seeing it as a miracle cure for all hormonal ills. There is no one product that can or will resolve a woman’s PMS, PCOS, cramps, acne, irrregular cycles or infertility issues on its own. Just adding in a supplement or one food, however “super,” unfortunately rarely works to help a woman overcome hormonal symptoms alone. Resolving hormonal imbalances requires a whole-systems approach - macro and micronutrient support, along with lifestyle changes.
When To Take Maca
There are 3 times in a woman’s life when she could really benefit from using maca root powder on a regular basis as part of a wider hormonally-supportive diet. Those times are:
During these windows, maca root powder could help your body produce more hormones, at a time when your own endocrine system may be flagging due to the effects of perimenopause, hormone suppression from the Pill, or lack of sleep after baby. As an adaptogen, maca root powder helps your endocrine system do its job in sub-optimal conditions. These three life stages can be a stress on your endocrine system.
Remember: maca has some wonderful benefits, but it is not a cure-all. However, using it alongside food can make maca a very effective supplement. After you reach 35, after using the Pill, after baby, you may be experiencing several hormone-based issues that maca can treat, including:
- Low energy levels
- Low sex drive
- Brain fog and poor focus or concentration
- Mood swings and depression
- PMS symptoms
Who shouldn’t take Maca?
Maca root powder is a great tool for these critical moments when our bodies need the additional support to get back on track. However, when you’re between 15 and 35, eating a hormonally-supportive diet should be enough to balance your hormones, resolve your period problems and regulate your cycles. You should NOT take maca if you have an allergy to iodine, Hashimoto’s, or experience any kind of thyroid nodules or growths, as it contains significant amounts of iodine. Lastly, any time you are trying out new changes to your wellness regimen, remember to note any side effects you experience and keep in touch with your providers about what you experience.
What’s the best kind of Maca root to take?
The most important thing to know about maca root powder is that there are different kinds you can buy. Keep in mind that it’s the glucosinolate component that you need, to experience maca’s hormone-balancing properties.
Look for brands containing over 1% of glucosinolate as a standardized extract. Our favorite way to take maca is in a smoothie. Just a spoonful is enough at first, but you can build up to more if you feel it’s working well for you.
There are red, black and yellow maca powders - yellow is the most commonly available and usually the least expensive - it packs a similar nutritional punch of minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and micronutrients as the other two kinds. However, red and black maca powders have some specific researched properties that make them stand out - red has shown to be most helpful for treating acne, infertility and low energy, for example.
Raw maca powder is better than gelatinized or cooked because the enzymes and nutrients remain at their peak levels in the raw state (although if you have a sensitive digestive system, cooked may be easier on your stomach). You may also find maca powders that blend of all 3 kinds of maca, which allow you to get their individual and combined benefits.