• In her book Maca: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator, Beth M. Ley, PhD, says that maca was domesticated by the Pumpush, a fierce warrior tribe that migrated into the Andes from the Amazon jungle. Later, the Yaro peoples arrived in the Andean highlands and cultivated immense fields of maca. Eventually, the Incan empire conquered the maca-​growing regions of the Andes. Legend has it that during the height of the Incan empire Incan warriors would consume maca before entering into battle to make them fiercely strong, but after conquering a city the Incan soldiers were prohibited from using maca, to protect the women from the excessive sexual desires of the men.
  • Maca is the highest-​altitude crop on Earth, grown at its natural altitude of 9,000–10,000 feet (2,700–3,000 meters) above sea level and as high as 14,000 feet (4,300 meters),
  • maca is an excellent superfood choice for individuals living in cold climates, at high altitudes, and/or with extreme adventure lifestyles. The character and properties of maca have been developed by the extreme conditions under which it grows. The area where maca is found, high in the Andes, is a barren, treeless, inhospitable region of intense sunlight, turbulent winds, and radical fluctuations in temperature. Daily temperature fluctuations are so great that at sunset temperatures may plummet from a beautiful 64 degrees (18°C) down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (–10°C) freezing conditions. Because of this, maca has one of the highest frost tolerances among native cultivated species. Maca can impart its hardy character and properties onto the people who consume it.
  • Maca has been used medicinally for centuries in South America to enhance fertility in humans and animals.
  • Maca was so revered in pre- and post-​Spanish conquest times that it was used as currency. According to Dr. Ley, in 1549 the colonial Spanish government received 15,000 to 18,000 pounds of maca as tribute. Colonial records, now two hundred years old, indicate that payments of roughly nine tons of maca were demanded from the Junin area of the Andes alone for the payment of colonial taxes. Even today, for many indigenous inhabitants of the Andes, maca is still one of the most vital and valuable of all commodities.
  • In the twentieth century, knowledge about maca nearly died out. In 1979 the Peruvian Department of Agriculture found only seventy acres of maca under cultivation in their country. There is no doubt that maca has been revivified by one of Peru’s leading biologists, Gloria Chacon de Popovici, PhD. Dr. Chacon first published her studies on maca’s ability to increase fertility in animals in 1961 and has continued as maca’s champion ever since. Her continuing research has demonstrated that maca increases fertility in rats, dogs, guinea pigs, rams, cows, and humans. This research has since been replicated by numerous researchers worldwide.
  • Gloria Chacon initially demonstrated in her research that when rats were given maca powder, the male rats had increased sperm counts and motility rates and the female rats showed multiple egg follicle maturations. These effects were measurable within seventy-​two hours of feeding the rats maca. Later came studies of guinea pigs, rams, and cows, each of which corroborated maca’s libido-​enhancing effects. For example, maca significantly increased ram semen volume and sperm count. Researchers such as Dr. Chacon consider plant sterols, isothiocyanates, macamides, and glucosinolates to be maca’s active libido- and fertility-​enhancing constituents because when isolated and fed to animals, these substances demonstrated aphrodisiac qualities.
  • Maca is a powerful adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s glandular-​hormonal system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and musculature
  • According to research, maca as an adaptogenic superfood increases energy, endurance, oxygen in the blood, physical strength, neurotransmitter production, and libido. It supports the endocrine system, the adrenals, and the thyroid, typically improves one’s mood, and helps support healthy hormone production.
  • Women with menstrual irregularities using maca have experienced greater consistency, while women with hot flashes, mood swings, and most associated perimenopause and menopause symptoms have diminished dramatically using maca.
  • Because maca increases blood oxygen content it helps to alleviate the environmental stress of altitude sickness (the volume of oxygen at 18,000 feet elevation is typically half of what it is at sea level).
  • As an adaptogen, maca can provide more energy if it is needed, but if it is not, it will not overstimulate, unlike with coffee.
  • Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacon de Popovici, PhD, suggests that maca acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands as well as the adrenals. She has theorized that by activating these endocrine glands maca is able to increase energy, vitality, and libido.
  • As Chacon describes, maca works on the master gland of the brain, the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is generally considered the sex-​hormone center of the brain. From the hypothalamus derivative effects occur “downstream” in the way the pituitary gland is stimulated to secrete luteinizing hormone and follicle-​stimulating hormone, and the way that the adrenal glands and gonads are stimulated to secrete testosterone, progesterone, and DHEA.
  • as we age, the hormone content of our blood, organs, and tissues decreases. Individuals who naturally have a high production of progesterone and/or testosterone are known to stay younger longer. Traditional Western medicine hormone replacement therapies are swiftly converting to more sustainable, reasonable, and intelligent “bio-​identical” hormone replacement approaches. However, before we reach for any supplemental hormones, we should first do our best to increase our hormone production with natural superfoods, herbs, and supplements; these include maca and coconut products (wild coconut water and flesh as well as coconut oil and pregnenolone).
  • Unlike soy products and flaxseeds, maca is free of plant hormones (such as phytoestrogens and isoflavones).
  • “maca is a means of normalizing our steroid hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Therefore it has the facility to forestall the hormonal changes of aging. It acts on men to restore them to a healthy functional status in which they experience a more active libido.” —Garry F. Gordon, former president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine
  • maca can be used over a long period of time with no harmful side effects. Maca is a warming food, and therefore is better suited for use in cooler weather and colder climates.

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