Maca is an adaptogenic herb used to increase energy, boost immune system function, and boost libido. The libido boosting effect is apparent in both men and women. It also appears to happen in the absence of any change in sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
A study published in 2009 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology studied the effect of 2 weeks of maca supplementation on the performance and sex drive of male cyclists. They found that only 2 weeks of supplementation did indeed increase subjective libido in the men. Another study published in 2008 in the journal Menopause studied the effects of maca supplementation in postmenopausal women. They found that maca did increase libido in the women, but it did not effect levels of estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone, leutenizing hormone, or androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
The study showing maca to not affect sex hormone levels may not be entirely applicable to men and premenopausal women so we may not be able to conclude that maca will not affect hormone levels at all. It does, however, show that maca is able to increase libido independent of changes in sex hormones. Maca has a variety of benefits associated with its use, and it appears to be an effective non-hormonal method of boosting libido and sexual function.
1. Stone M, Ibarra A, Roller M, Zangara A, & Stevenson E. (2009). A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 126(3), 574-6.
2. Brooks NA, Wilcox G, Walker KZ, Ashton JF, Cox MB, & Stojanovska L. (2008). 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. Menopause (New York, N.Y.). 15(6), 1157-62.
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