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Is Maca Root an Effective Testosterone Booster?

Testosterone is responsible for giving us our muscular frame, strength and virility. It promotes hair growth and voice deepening, and reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and sexual dysfunction.

If your goal is to boost your T levels then training hard and eating properly should at the top of the list – but that’s not all you can do to get those hormones elevated.

There are a number of natural vitamins, minerals and herbs that can help your quest for a better physique – but if you choose the wrong ones, you can be left disappointed with the results.

In this article we’ll take a look at Maca root and why this supplement might increase your libido, but most certainly wont boost your T levels. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is Maca root?
  • Does it have an affect on libido?
  • Maca root and testosterone – what do the studies say?
  • What else can you do to boost your T levels?

What is Maca Root?

Lepidium meyenii is a genus, herbaceous plant that grows in central Peru. Commonly known as Peruvian ginseng or Maca Root, it has a similar look to a turnip, but falls within the broccoli family.

This herb grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 meters in the central Andes [1] and is a cultivated root that has been used in Andean medicine for centuries. Traditionally, the dried roots of the plant have been eaten after boiling in water, or used to make juices with added ingredients such as honey. Some parts of the plant can even be eaten fresh.

It is a particularly nutritious plant, containing fatty acids, sterols and a number of essential nutrients such as phytonutrients and alkaloids.

The root also contains a compound called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate which is claimed has supposed aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing qualities. History suggests that local Peruvian villagers found living at high altitudes had negative effects on their libido, and that eating this plant helped to enhance sexual appetite and performance.


Peruvian-Ginseng-

Key Point: Maca is a nutritious plant found at high altitudes in Peru. It has been used for centuries for its apparent libido-enhancing effects.


Can Maca Boost Libido?

According to the studies the answer would be yes, although not conclusive.

For example, Zenico et al [2] used 50 men who were all affected by mild erectile dysfunction to see if supplementation with the Peruvian plant extract would improve their sexual performance over a 12-week period.

The researchers gave one group a relatively high dose of 2,400mg and the other a placebo. At 12 weeks, the group that received the Peruvian plant extract reported a small but significant improvement in physical and social sexual performance, showing that subjective perception of general and sexual well-being had improved.

Interestingly though, the placebo group also showed an increase in sexual performance – although not quite as significant.

More promising results were published using a group of athletes in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology [3]. In this study, 8 male cyclists were asked to take the supplement over a 14-day period.

In order to test the effects of the herb on physical performance they completed a time trial before the study, and again at week 12. The volunteers also completed a ‘sexual desire inventory’ questionnaire prior to each visit.

At 12 weeks, sexual desire had significantly increased showing evidence that the herb may indeed boost libido. The group improved their time trial performance but not any more than a placebo group though.

So does that mean that it will boost your T levels, or does the increase in sexual performance come from another mechanism altogether? Let’s take a look at what the small number of studies say…


Maca-Herb-for-T-Boosting

Key Point: Maca seems to increase libido and sexual performance, but the effects although research is not conclusive.


Does Maca Increase Testosterone?

There is a surprising lack of empirical research on this herb which in itself is worrying. The studies that have been conducted show very little evidence that it affects your T levels at all. There is some evidence to suggest that the herb has aphrodisiac qualities, but the action doesn’t come from changes to male hormones.

#Study 1: Gonzales et al [4]

This study, published in Andrologia, used a group of male volunteers to investigate the effects of the Peruvian herb on mood and sexual desire, and whether any changes were due to increased androgen levels.

The males were given two doses – 1,500mg or 3,000mg, and some were given a placebo as a way of controlling for variables. At weeks 4, 8 and 12 the group had to complete a questionnaire called the Hamilton test as a way of measuring their state of mind.

The results found an improvement in sexual desire at week 8, leading the researchers to conclude the herb as an aphrodisiac, however this was not due to changes in testosterone – T levels were unchanged throughout the study. 

#Study 2: Gonzales et al [1]

This study, again led by Professor Gustavo Gonzales and his team of researchers, aimed to investigate the effects of his previous study and confirm that Maca had no effect on T levels.

Over a 12-week period, different doses of the herb were administered to a group of males aged between 21 and 56. The research team measured their testosterone, as well as luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels – both important regulators of T production.

The analysis of the results showed that Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied, nor did the hormones show any changes over time. 

#Study 3: Gonzales et al [5]

This study used a longer test period of 4 month to see if the herb extract would have any effects on hormone or semen levels.

The research team found that between 1500-3000mg per day increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility in the group of healthy males. However, again there were no changes to either testosterone or any other parameter of male hormones.


Summary – Can Maca Boost Testosterone?

Maca root is a herbaceous plant that grows in central Peru. Commonly known as Peruvian ginseng, it has a similar look to a turnip and grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 meters in the central Andes.

It is a particularly nutritious plant, containing fatty acids, sterols and a number of essential nutrients such as phytonutrients and alkaloids.

The root contains a compound called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate that has been found to have aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing qualities, with some studies reporting positive effects on sexual performance and libido.

Research suggests that regardless of the aphrodisiac effects of this plant, it has no effect on testosterone levels at all, including secondary male hormones such as luteinizing hormone or follicle stimulating hormone.


What else Boosts Testosterone?


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References

  1. Gonzales, GF et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men. J Endocrinol. 2003; 176(1): 163-8
  2. Zenico, T et al. 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. Andrologia. 2009; 41(2): 95-9
  3. Stone, M et al. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009; 126(3): 574-6
  4. Gonzales, GF et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002; 34(6): 367-72.
  5. Gonzales, GF et al. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian J Androl. 2001; 3(4): 301-3.

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