The maca plant, known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng.
It mainly grows in the Andes of central Peru, in harsh conditions and at very high altitudes — above 4,000 meters.
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable and therefore related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru.
The main edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground. It exists in several colors, ranging from white to black.
Maca root is generally dried and consumed in powder form, but it’s also available in capsules and as a liquid extract.
The taste of maca root powder, which some people dislike, has been described as earthy and nutty. Many people add it to their smoothies, oatmeal and sweet treats.
Maca root has traditionally been used to enhance fertility and sex drive.
It’s also claimed to improve energy and stamina.
The range of potential benefits of maca root include:
- Increasing libido
- Reducing erectile dysfunction
- Boosting energy and endurance
- Increasing fertility
- Improving mood
- Reducing blood pressure
- Reducing sun damage
- Fighting free radicals