The mighty Andes, home of maca root. (Photo by alvazer)
It's time to conclude my experiment with Peruvian maca root, the supposed health food of the Incas.
During the past month and a half, I have been consuming various amounts of powdered maca. The recommended amount on the label was one teaspoon, which is what I ate on most days. However, keeping with the inhuman spirit of the blog, I also experimented with bigger dosages on some days. The most I took was two tablespoons, about six times the recommended amount.
The nice thing about maca is that it doesn't taste too bad. At first, I mixed it with yoghurt, which made a decently enjoyable snack, but in the end I found it easiest to add the powder into my morning shake.
Unfortunately, I can't say I noticed much of the positive effects maca is supposed to have. Granted, my energy level and libido were good during the experiment, but they were good before and still are, even though I have stopped taking it. My approach certainly could have been more scientific as far as sperm count and motility is concerned, but if there was an effect, it wasn't visible to the naked eye.
I also had days where I skipped the maca entirely, just to see whether there would be differences in how I felt between the days I took it and the days I didn't. I didn't notice any. Changing the size of the dosage didn't seem to have much effect either.
These results are a bit disappointing, given that there are studies on maca that seem pretty conclusive. The rat studies I wrote about in my previous post showed increased sperm counts, and in human studies the subjects who took maca reported increases in sexual desire, sperm counts and sperm motility.
One could argue that maca only has an effect in those whose energy level or libido is lacking to begin with, but the studies suggest that it should work on anyone. The double-blind study on humans included healthy, young men as well, and in one of the rat studies the sperm counts of the maca-fed rats exposed to high altitudes were not only higher than the control group's but also higher than the sea-level group's that was not fed maca.
Another thing that is noteworthy is that the amounts used in the studies were very small. The humans were fed either 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg maca. That's even less than a teaspoon, so you'd think two tablespoons would have at least some effect.
One of the studies mentioned that the only type of maca that showed benefits was "red maca". Yellow and black maca had no effect on prostate size. The maca powder I purchased was clearly yellow, which could be one reason I didn't notice much.
In short, I can't completely rule out the possibility that consuming between one teaspoon and two tablespoons of maca affected me, but any effect must have been fairly small. Since there's no evidence of maca being toxic at even high doses, you may want to try it for yourself and see what happens. Or if you already have, drop a comment and let me know how you felt while taking it.