Parts used medicinally: Root
Maca is a plant known for its ability to live and thrive in one of the harshest climates in the world. This is so fitting because its roots have long been used to help us adapt to and survive in stressful environments.
What is Maca?
The maca plant is found in the high altitudes of the Peruvian Andes Mountains, at heights of up to 15,000 feet. It comes from the brassica family, so its relatives include broccoli, cabbage and turnips. Maca is extremely hardy and is able to tolerate frost, sun and wind!
Traditionally it’s the roots that are used, mainly for their adaptogenic properties. It’s thought that the special plant chemicals it contains have a positive effect on the stress response systems in the body, which explains why many use it to maintain energy and other vital functions, particularly during stressful periods. Other common uses include promoting balance in the reproductive system and some studies have found it to improve hormone production.
It can also be used as a food source with it’s butterscotch-like flavour. It has a high nutrient density and is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and other minerals like calcium and iron. In the Andes, a local dish is made by roasting or baking the whole root and making it into a porridge called Mazamorra de Maca. Another traditional staple is a sweet fermented drink called maca chicha
Around the rest of the world, maca is now considered a superfood and typically used in the form of a powder, either pure or blended with other powders.
Did You Know?
- During the Spanish colonisation, maca was used as a form of currency.
- Incan farmers would feed it to their cattle to increase their reproduction.
- Maca root is said to have a long shelf life and is said to be able to last several years once dried.
Maca & Me
- Try adding maca powder to your smoothies, hot chocolate or backed goods to benefit from it’s properties and provide a sweet malty flavour.
If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.