A new study published in the current issue of Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society reports that supplementing with Maca (Lepidium meyenii) at a dose of 3.5 grams/day reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with menopause while also increasing libido. These benefits were experienced without causing hormone levels to change. So, for women looking for non-hormonal therapies to decrease the symptoms of menopause, Maca deserves our attention.
This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that examined the effect of Maca on 14 postmenopausal women. Maca is an herb grown in the Andean region of Peru where it has been used as an aphrodisiac and fertility enhancer. Research supporting complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies for relief of menopausal symptoms is slim. This current study scientifically validates what many women have known for years.
Researchers are still trying to understand how Maca does what it does. What we know about Maca is that it supports the adrenal glands (our stress gland which is important in hormonal balance), contains flavanoids that can act as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (like many antidepressants) and contains phytoestrogens (also found in soy and flaxseeds). If you are wondering if Maca reduced hot flashes in this study, it did not. This last finding supports Maca’s role in improving psychological health directly, rather than indirectly through decreasing hot flashes.
Yes, this was a small study (only 14 women were studied); therefore more studies are warranted. I have read other studies that showed that estrogen may increase with Maca, thus making Maca an herbal therapy that, contrary to this current study, does affect hormone levels. Again, we need more research to understand fully the effects and mechanism of action of Maca. There are many different brands of Maca available in health food stores. Because complementary therapies are not regulated, there is a difference in quality. If you are a patient of Akasha, please ask for a product recommendation. If you are not a patient of Akasha, ask a qualified practitioner familiar with herbal medicine for a quality Maca product.
The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only. It is not intended as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please see an Akasha physician or another qualified health care provider with questions regarding a medical condition or treatment.