The Maca root has been heavily marketed as being effective at improving sexual desire, and its sex-enhancing properties are backed by research.
Reduced sexual desire is a common problem among adults. Consequently, interest in herbs and plants that naturally boost libido and sex drive is great. Here enters the Maca root.
Maca is the common name for Lepidium meyenii, a plant in the broccoli family. The ‘Maca root’ is divided into categories based on the color of the root (red, black, pink or yellow). Maca has historically been grown in Peru.
It has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac. It has been used all over the world and affects both genders. It does not work through hormones, and does not increase testosterone or estrogen.
There is evidence (here and here) that maca root increases men’s fertility.When it comes to male fertility, sperm quality and quantity is very important. Men using it have been known to experience an increase in sperm production.
A review from 2010 that included four randomized clinical studies with a total of 131 participants found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of ingestion.
A recent review summarized the findings of five small studies. It showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men. One of the studies reviewed included nine healthy men. After consuming the root for four months, researchers detected an increase in the volume, count and motility of sperm.
One must point out that these studies were small and they relied on self-reporting. That said, they were also all double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized, and each one showed the same pattern of results: maca increased libido.
What makes this food so interesting is that we still don’t understand why it increases sex drive. Sex drive usually links to sex hormones, though with maca that doesn’t seem to be the case. Researchers have measured testosterone and estrogen levels of people taking maca and found no changes, even when the participants reported increased libido.