Deep in Peru’s central highlands grows the maca plant, an ancient herbal remedy once used by the Inca to help improve sexual performance and fertility. Maca was believed to be a “gift from the gods” and was a primary food source for the Inca. Commonly dubbed “Nature’s Viagra” or “Peruvian ginseng,” maca is now used by men to improve energy, athletic performance, impotence and erectile dysfunction.
Researchers believe maca boosts libido by restoring youthful levels of hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen through two main compounds found in the plant—macamides and macaenes.
At the Department of Physiological Sciences at the University of Peru in Lima, researchers recently tested the effects of maca root on sperm count in male rats. After an oral dose of the root twice a day for two weeks, the rats were then tested for any improvements in sperm development. Researchers were pleased to find that the maca root did indeed boost sperm development. While this is an early study, it holds promise for further fertility research using maca.
In a second study at the University of Modena and Reggio nell’Emilia in Modena, Italy, researchers tested maca’s effects on male sex drive. In this placebo-controlled study, researchers gave 60 male rats an oral dosage of maca or a placebo for two weeks and then observed sexual behaviour. They concluded that maca “significantly improved” various markers of sexual performance of the male rats and urged further study. Maca is available at most natural products stores.
Sources: Asian J Androl 2001 Sep;3(3):231-3; J Ethnopharmacol 2001 May;75(2-3):225-9.