For thousands of years now, Maca has been a part of the traditional medicine because of its multiple beneficial effects that it has on our health.
For some of these beneficial effects, there is solid scientific proof that it is to be believed, while for others, there is the positive feedback that past individuals have expressed after their experience with Maca root.
Today we explore the possibility of using Maca to combat the most common thyroid issues – hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Can these thyroid issues be eliminated by the sole use of Maca?
And what other health benefits do you need to consider?
What do we need to know about Maca?
The very popular Maca plant, also known by the names of Lepidium meyenii and Peruvian ginseng, is to be found growing in the much harsh conditions and high altitudes in the Andes of central Peru.
Maca represents a cruciferous vegetable, very much close to the beloved broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. Ancient texts tell us about the use of Maca millions of years ago back in Peru, mostly for medicinal purposes, but also for culinary as well.[i]
Today, we have the famous Maca root, which is later dried and consumed in its form of a powder or as a liquid extract. It has become quite of a habit to once again include this ancient plant as a part of the methods that are being used to treat various health issues.
The many health benefits of using Maca
There are many health benefits that are to come from the regular use of the Maca root.
Nowadays, there are many dietary supplements that are including Maca extract to their formula with the hopes of achieving these very same health benefits. In the following, we will briefly explain some of the most popular health benefits of using Maca.
It has a great nutritional value
Maca is famous for its high nutritional value. It represents a fairly good source of healthy carbs and fiber while being low in fats.
In addition, it contains great amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium, which are all very much needed vitamins and minerals for optimum health.[ii]
It boosts the libido in men and women
You might have heard about Maca reading about natural ways to increase your libido online. This is the most famous use of Maca nowadays.
According to actual scientific studies, Maca is able to boost the male and female libido. In a study published in 2002, 1.5 to 3 gr of Maca on a daily use has increased libido as compared to the use of placebo.[iii]
It gives a great energy boost
If you are struggling with fatigue and low energy levels in general, you might want to rely on Maca for help.
Maca is able to provide a natural energy boost and improve physical performance, which is why it is one of the most beloved supplements among athletes and bodybuilders.[iv] It is also able to help the muscle-building process resulting in lean and strong muscles in the end.
It helps relieve menopause symptoms
Women all around the world love Maca for helping them overcome the difficult menopause symptoms.
Maca has been proven to be able to relieve the common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings, according to a study published in Maturitas.[v]
It may treat male infertility
Apart from being able to boost the energy levels and increase your libido, Maca is also offering its help when it comes to solving any issues linked to male infertility. Maca root is believed to increase sperm quality and count in both fertile and infertile men, which we know are issues that are commonly linked to infertility in men.[vi]
It improves the mood
Thanks to the compounds known as flavonoids found in Maca, anxiety, and depression will no longer represent a problem for you. Maca has been found to have beneficial effects in reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially in menopausal women in the past.[vii]
Using Maca for thyroid issues
We have saved one of the biggest benefits of taking Maca for the part of this article that interests us the most.
We are talking about the ability of Maca to help our body balance hormones better and in a more efficient way, which is especially important when you are struggling with thyroid issues – hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, which are causing major hormonal imbalance.
One of the natural ways to overcome these common thyroid issues seems to be using Maca as a part of your diet.
Maca for hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland can be easily treated by using Maca. Now, Maca would in no way replace the standard treatment methods used to treat hypothyroidism or any thyroid issue for that matter, but it would surely increase the chance of overcoming that very same thyroid issue.
Maca works by stimulating the body’s endocrine system all through the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in order to help the body to improve the functioning of the endocrine glands.
By doing so, it helps improve the production of the needed amounts of thyroid hormones, as a way to stabilize the thyroid hormone levels and help the body overcome the common hypothyroidism symptoms.[viii] Apart from its hormone-balancing properties, Maca also represents a valuable iodine source, which, as you may know, it is an important component of the thyroid hormones. Because of that, whenever someone is dealing with hypothyroidism, it is essential to increase the iodine intake on a daily level. By combining these two very important beneficial effects, you can see how easy it is for Maca to improve your hypothyroidism symptoms.
Another way that Maca is to be helping these patients is by treating their low sexual desire and even infertility caused by their low thyroid hormone levels. Maca can help these patients to improve their energy levels, libido, and mood, which are all aspects that are often compromised due to the presence of this thyroid issue.[ix]
Many people rely on this natural supplement as a part of their hypothyroidism treatment because of its numerous wondrous benefits that help improve their general health, but also because we are talking about a natural supplement that has no adverse effects.
Maca is not a substitute for the usual hypothyroidism treatment, and it is to be taken only as an addition to the assigned treatment plan. However, there is a lack of scientific research to support these findings, and although we are sure about the ability of Maca to influence the functioning of the endocrine system, we still need proof of the beneficial effects of Maca on patients with diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Maca for hyperthyroidism
When it comes to using Maca to treat hyperthyroidism, a lot of skepticism is being involved in the story. Some people claim that taking Maca while struggling with the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, they have been experiencing a worsening of these very same symptoms, while others, especially postmenopausal women with hyperthyroidism, have reported to experience an improvement in their symptoms.
So what is right?
Once again, because of the lack of scientific research, we cannot really be sure. Although we do know about the ability of Maca to influence the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, this does not mean that Maca has any direct influence on our thyroid gland. There is no reason to believe that Maca would additionally increase the production of the thyroid gland when it can only do the opposite thing – influence the hypothalamus-pituitary axis that would then influence the thyroid gland to stabilize the overproduction of the thyroid hormones.[x]
As for iodine, we know that patients with hyperthyroidism are advised to reduce their iodine intake for the sake of not causing their symptoms to worsen. However, the amount of iodine that is found in Maca is not considered to be enough to cause a worsening of any hypothyroidism symptoms. Yet, we are waiting for solid scientific research to give answers to many of our questions about the use of Maca in the treatment of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism as well as in the treatment of some of the not so common thyroid issues.
How to use Maca to improve your thyroid health?
Maca is quite easily incorporated into one’s diet. It is available in the form of a dietary supplement as capsules or a liquid extract, or it can be found in the form of a powder.
So you have capsules, liquid extract, and powder to choose from whichever is easiest for you. As a powder, you can add Maca to your daily smoothies, oatmeal, soups, homemade granola bars, and whatnot. Usually, research recommends taking around 1.5 to 5 gr of Maca a day.
The potential side-effects and dangers of using Maca
Maca is generally considered safe to be used.[xi] It has not been associated with many health risks or specific side-effects in the past.
However, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to consult their doctors before proceeding to use Maca on a daily level. In addition, anyone who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer or any other treatments that affect the hormonal levels should advise their doctors as well about the possibility of using Maca as a part of their daily diet.
In conclusion, despite the fact that Maca is quite a beneficial herbal supplement that we can count on to improve many aspects of our health, there is still the need for more research to be done on the topic of using Maca to treat the common thyroid issues.
Although many patients with thyroid issues who have been using Maca in the past have not reported any side-effects and some of them even experienced an improvement in their condition, there is still the need for a solid proof before we recommend using Maca for the purposes of improving the health of our thyroid gland.
[i] Gonzales, G. F., Gonzales, C., & Gonzales-Castañeda, C. (2009). Lepidium meyenii(Maca): A Plant from the Highlands of Peru – from Tradition to Science. Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine, 16(6), 373–380. doi: 10.1159/000264618
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20090350
[ii] Maca Powder Nutrition Facts & Calories. (n.d.)
Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2193874/0
[iii] Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Vega, K., Chung, A., Villena, A., Gonez, C., & Castillo, S. (2002). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in healthy adult men. Andrologia, 34(6), 367–372. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0272.2002.00519.x
Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1046/j.1439-0272.2002.00519.x?referrer_access_token=EdRnRZy5O2e5tC3oSXcLD1cP6X_2SPADgqOuugN7stOrkMoKyeYZh6FxsHKd4278nNuo4DER4fBw__5q9gnf0xHtv76QrI-zwIukon5XvAcd7qqQ5kH2pK58UnXHx3mDao3_sV42vugwXU8Pey1zoMS4H_j001sNEM-m9heTrag%3D
[iv] 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), 574–576. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.09.012
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19781622
[v] Lee, M. S., Shin, B.-C., Yang, E. J., Lim, H.-J., & Ernst, E. (2011). Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Maturitas, 70(3), 227–233. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.07.017
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840656
[vi] Lee, M. S., Lee, H. W., You, S., & Ha, K.-T. (2016). The use of Maca ( Lepidium meyenii ) to improve semen quality: A systematic review. Maturitas, 92, 64–69. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.07.013
Retrieved from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-use-of-maca-(Lepidium-meyenii)-to-improve-semen-Lee-Lee/8224cb01358b507ec4440eab8169ad1c40b1cb3e
[vii] Stojanovska, L., Law, C., Lai, B., Chung, T., Nelson, K., Day, S., … Haines, C. (2014). Maca reduces blood pressure and depression in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric, 18(1), 69–78. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2014.929649
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24931003
[xi] Valerio, L. G., & Gonzales, G. F. (2005). Toxicological Aspects of the South American Herbs Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) and Maca (Lepidium meyenii): A critical synopsis. Toxicological Reviews, 24(1), 11–35. doi: 10.2165/00139709-200524010-00002
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042502