Monday, May 23, 2011

Boosting Your Hormones and Sex Drive

Maca…. You’ve probably heard about it by now if you’re not already taking it.  I have a heaping tablespoon of the pulverized root everyday in my morning cereal or blended juice drink and am ready to take on the world!

Maca, or “lepidium meyeni” grows in the high altitude mountains of Peru.  It is a tuberous root and a member of the radish family.  Maca has been considered a nutritious food and a powerful medicament by indigenous healers and shamans for countless centuries, with its first recorded use by outsiders in the 16th century when the Spanish discovered its healing properties. Used for its root only, maca’s active ingredients are “macamides” and “macaenes, “ which adapt to each individual’s metabolism increasing energy, vitality, and overall health in all aspects.

A Powerful Adaptogen
Adaptogens are plants that benefit organisms without causing negative side effects while working with the natural rhythms of the body. Maca’s adaptogenic qualities work to reinforce the immune system while flooding the body with needed nutrients that increase energy and endurance.  Because maca contains an extraordinarily high concentration of adaptogens, it is able to heighten our resistance to free radicals and toxins by strengthening and nourishing all of our bodily functions.

A Few of the Benefits
Some of the benefits of maca include assisting the digestive process, nourishing and calming the nerves, helping to build muscle mass, providing support to the adrenal glands, and strengthening bones and teeth.  Maca is a powerful anti-carcinogen and antioxidant and so provides specific assistance to the immune system.  The root additionally stimulates the circulatory system, which contributes to a healthy heart and glowing skin.

Chock Full of Nutrients
Maca contains many vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, sodium, iron, zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, manganese, tin, silicon, C, E, B1, B2, and B12, which is difficult to find in foods if you are a vegetarian. It also contains phosphorus, an essential building block for nurturing the cells. Maca additionally has one of the highest lipid contents of all roots, including linolenic, acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid. What is more, because maca is high in alkaloid content, it is fully able to assist the body in properly assimilating all of these nutrients. 

The amazing news is that a single maca root contains approximately 60 phyto-nutrients along with amino acids, fatty acids, sterols, vitamins, and minerals.  A spectacular powerhouse of health coming from one small, ugly Peruvian root!

 And Now…..Maca’s Greatest Claim to Fame!
With all of the incredible and aforementioned benefits that maca offers, the root’s real claim to fame is its ability to restore and regulate natural hormonal balance in both women and men, which reinforces and re-instigates (when necessary) sexual function. 

Maca exerts an extremely beneficial influence over endocrine function and the glands that produce chemical messengers known as hormones.  Hormones are the key to normal bodily functions, including metabolic function, energy reserves, and sexual development and performance. As properly functioning hormones flow throughout the blood stream and into the organs and tissues, they nourish and stimulate the adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, and pituitary glands along with the hypothalamus, pancreas, thymus, ovaries, and testes.  

Interestingly enough, maca itself does not contain hormones, but rather the nutrients that power the entire endocrine system. By getting the glands to produce the necessary amounts of hormones our bodies are kept in balance on all levels.  The one thing maca does contain that I have not yet mentioned are potent aphrodisiac properties.  This, combined with its ability to release hormones, accounts for maca’s indisputable ability to increase sexual desire and correct and improve sexual function.  And as we all know, when all systems are in sync this is the surest way to not only physiological health, but to emotional health as well!

Purchasing Maca
When buying maca, look for brands that have harvested the root from the Andean mountains, for it is the high altitude that assures the greatest amount of nutrients. Make sure the maca is not cut with fillers like rice flower or maltodextrin, and that it is Certified Organic and processed accordingly.  It should also be gelatinized, which is an extrusion process that removes the starch from the root so that the powder mixes more easily into beverages and food, is easier to digest, and tastes good. Lastly look to see that the brand encourages fair trade practices that help to support traditional and sustainable harvesting methods.

Sprinkle maca over cooked or uncooked cereal or put a tablespoon in a blended fruit of vegetable drink.  Always use a non-metallic spoon such as plastic or wood when measuring maca.  Ingest and enjoy the results!

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