HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY PROPERTIES OF MACA ROOT
Effects of Peruvian Maca on Hormonal Functions
Whether discussions today are about estrogen replacement therapy, increasing male potency or improving other hormonal functions, the solutions mentioned are generally drugs currently on the market. Lately, however, we’ve been hearing marvellous reports about a hearty plant root cultivated high in the Andes of Peru. Known as “maca,” this ancient nutritional source and efficacious endocrine system remedy is being dispensed by health professionals as a safe and natural substitute for drugs.
Maca, in fact, has been used by Peruvian consumers for many centuries, from before the time of the Incas. Once in a decade an herb used by native peoples for thousands of years comes to our attention and it seems so important to health that we wonder how we ever got along without it before.
Now women have an alternative to hormone replacement therapy [HRT]. Maca works in an entirely different and more satisfactory way for most women than the phytogenic herbs like black cohosh and licorice root. These herbs have become popular with menopausal women who refuse to take the drugs of HRT. And men, too, find in maca an herb that will counteract the difficulties they may experience in maintaining good sexual relationships as they age, due to a general slowing down in the output of the endocrine glands.
Effects of Maca on the Endocrine Glands
Source: Dr. Gloria Chacon de Popivici, Lima- Peru
Dr. Gloria Chacon isolated four alkaloids from the maca root and carried out animal studies with male and female rats given either powdered maca root or alkaloids isolated from the roots. In comparison with the animal control groups, those receiving either root powder or alkaloids showed multiple egg follicle maturation in females and, in males, significantly higher sperm production and motility rates than control groups. Dr. Chacon established that it was the alkaloids in the maca root, not its plant hormones, that produced fertility effects on the ovaries and testes of the rats. “These effects are measurable within 72 hours of dosing the animals,” she offered in a recent telephone interview from Lima, Peru.
Through the experiments, she deduced that the alkaloids were acting on the hypothalamus-pituitary gland, which explains why both male and female rats were afflicted in a gender-appropriate manner. This also explains why the effects in humans are not limited to ovaries and testes, but also act on the adrenals, giving a feeling of greater energy and vitality, and on the pancreas and thyroid as well.
Implications of Dr. Chacon’s discovery of the pituitary stimulating effects of maca are enormous. What it appears to mean is that hormone replacement therapy, even the natural varieties, will no longer be the gold standard for optimising a holistic point of view.
Maca: Discover how this new phytonutrient can ease menopausal symptoms
Rather than hormone replacement therapy (HRT), millions of women are putting their faith in a remedy which has been used for 10,000 years, which is safe and amazingly effective: a cruciferous root vegetable from Peru called maca. Anthropologist Dr. Viana Muller has brought this extraordinary remedy to the attention of the Western world. “Once in a decade a remedy used by native peoples for thousands of years comes to our attention and it seems so important to health that we wonder how we ever got along without it,” Dr. Muller says. “Maca is that kind of supplement. Now women have an alternative to hormone replacement therapy drugs. Maca works in an entirely different and more satisfactory way for most women than phytoestrogen herbs like black cohosh and licorice root.”
And men, too, find that maca can counteract the difficulties they may experience in maintaining good sexual relationships as they age, due to a general slowing down in the output of the endocrine glands.”
The scientist responsible for much of the current knowledge of the maca root is Dr.Gloria Chacon de Popivici, a biologist trained at the University of San Marcos, in Lima, Peru. Dr.Chacon says that maca root works in a fundamentally different way than HRT, promoting optimal functioning of the hypothalamus and the pituitary, thereby improving the functioning of all the endocrine glands. Dr. Chacon has done the most important scientific work to date on the maca plant. (See study above).
Dr. Muller says, “Implications of Dr Chacon’s discovery of the pituitary-stimulating effects of maca are enormous.
What it means is that hormone replacement therapy, even the natural varieties, will no longer be the gold standard for optimising health from a holistic point of view.”
Alternative to HRT: It is important to remember that maca does not itself contain any hormones, but its action on the body jogs the pituitary into producing the precursor hormones which ultimately end up raising oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels, as well as helping to balance the adrenal glands, the thyroid and the pancreas. But this occurs naturally, not with time-bomb drugs which throw the entire body into a dangerous state of confusion.
Dr Jorge Malaspina, a respected cardiologist, has been using maca in his practice in Lima, Peru, practice for over a decade. He says, “Maca does not cause the ovaries in women to atrophy, as conventional hormone replacement therapy does.” This means that maca may be discontinued at any time without danger. He adds, “Different medicinal plants work on the ovaries by stimulating them. With maca, though, we should say that it ‘regulates’ the ovarian function.” Dr Malaspina reiterates what Dr. Chacon says about the way maca regulates the organs of internal secretion, such as the pituitary, the adrenal glands, and the pancreas. He has also found maca to be effective even on women who have undergone complete hysterectomies. He describes one patient who had a serum oestradiol level of 15, which is very low. After two months on maca it went up to 75. He says that a level above 60 is an adequate postmenopausal level. “Maca enables the adrenals to make sufficient hormones to avoid symptoms”, he says.
Dr. Malaspina adamantly prefers maca therapy to HRT. “The presence of outside hormones circulating in the system sends a message to the pituitary and the hypothalamus that there is a sufficient quantity of hormones in the body, and so they stop producing them. When menopause arrives, then, the ovaries are atrophied and do not produce the oestrogen and progesterone which the body requires minimally to function. For this reason, I encourage women to start with maca before menopause. It seems to help the endocrine system to stay in balance.”
Maca regulates sexual functions for both males and females
Source: Dr. Hugo Malaspina, MD and cardiologist- Lima, Peru
Hugo Malaspina, MD, works with Maca now practicing complementary medicine with an emphasis on the use of medicinal herbs. He is one of the earliest modern pioneers in the therapeutic use of this ancient herb for an urban population. A respected cardiologist in Lima, Dr. Malaspina has been using the maca root in his practice for a decade and makes the following observations: “There are different medicinal plants that work on the ovaries by stimulating them. With maca, though, we should say that it ‘regulates’ the ovarian function.”
Dr. Malaspina, who uses maca therapy for both his male and female patients, recalls that he first heard about this extraordinary herb through a group of elderly gentlemen who, while well along in years were still lively and interested in enjoying sexual activities. One of this group, (they were all over 70), started taking Maca and found he was able to perform satisfactorily in a sexual relationship with a lady friend. Soon everyone in the group began drinking the powered maca as a beverage and enjoying the boost that the root was giving their hormonal functions. “I have several of these men as patients, and their improvement prompted me to find out more about maca and begin recommending it to my other patients,” Dr. Malaspina stated.
What makes maca so effective, according to Dr. Malaspina, is that rather than introducing hormones from outside the body, maca encourages the ovaries and other glands to produce the needed hormones. The cardiologist-turned-wholistic physician said, “Maca regulates the organs of internal secretion, such as the pituitary, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, etc. I have had perhaps 200 female patients whose perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms are alleviated by taking maca.”
Maca Provides benefit following hysterectomy
Source: Dr. Hugo Malaspina, MD and cardiologist- Lima, Peru
Dr. Malaspina has even found maca to be effective for women with hysterectomies. He discussed a 49-year old woman who had a hysterectomy eight years ago, although she still retained her ovaries. “The woman was beginning to get menopausal symptoms – hot flashes, cold feet, depression, tachycardia, some constipation and some bone loss. Because she had breast implants, usual hormone replacement therapy was not an option for her,” explained Dr. Malaspina. “I started her on maca and within three months the depression, constipation, and hot flashes cleared up. Based on my experience with some other patients, I expect that her bone density will improve as well, but that will take longer.”
He has also dispensed maca to women who have undergone complete hysterectomies. One patient who had her ovaries removed was on HRT. ‘But she didn’t feel well taking the HRT so she stopped. When I examined her the blood serum estradiol level was 15 which is very low and she was experiencing hot flashes. Two months after she began taking maca I retested her and the woman had a level of 75. Anything above 60 is probably an adequate postmenopausal level. Maca enabled the adrenals to make sufficient hormones to avoid symptoms,” he said. Dr. Malaspina adamantly prefers maca therapy to HRT. “Presence of the outside hormone circulating in the system sends a message to the pituitary and the hypothalmus that there is a sufficient quantity of hormones in the body, and so they stop producing them. When menopause arrives, then, the ovaries are atrophied and do not produce the estrogen and progesterone which the body requires minimally to function.” For this reason, I encourage women to start with maca before menopause.”It seems to help the endocrine system to stay in balance.”
Results for a nurse practitioner and her patients
Source: Stephanie Sulger-Smith, RN, MS
From her White Plains, New York, clinic, nurse-practitioner Stephanie Sulger-Smith, RN, MS, says that she read an article about postmenopausal health which discussed Maca. At her clinic she offers nutritional counselling for a variety of conditions. “I had been prescribing black cohosh, dong quai, oil of evening primrose, vitamin E and other natural remedies to women with perimenopausal symptoms. But when I began using these remedies to help with my own hot flashes and other symptoms of approaching menopause, I didn’t get the relief I needed. So I acquired a supply of maca powder and took it as advised. Almost immediately, my hot flashes disappeared and my energy level went up. My response to maca was surprising to my gynecologist, who insisted that I undergo a series of laboratory studies, including estrogen levels, uterine monograms and others. They all turned out normal,” says nurse Sulger-Smith. “I haven’t had a hot flash since the beginning of November 1997, and I feel fabulous. When I told my patients about Maca, they tried it and found freedom from their perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.”
One patient who has been taking maca for over a year had a series of bone density studies done that showed increased density in the spine,” says Nurse Sulger-Smith. “Other case histories exhibit similar positive results from taking maca. In fact, most of the women taking the root powder report that they feel less fatigue, greater energy, are less susceptible to stress, and do not experience hot flashes or night sweats. There are always a few individuals who will show an allergic reaction or who fall into a group of women or men for whom a pituitary stimulator such as maca is contraindicated in the absence of studies that prove its safety. These groups include men with a high PSA level or a history of prostate cancer. Men using maca on a regular basis should undergo periodic PSA tests. Women with a history of breast cancer or other types of hormone-related cancer also fall into this group.”