NERD ALERT: Is Maca really the root to conception? What the science says...
Most of us now have some form of hormonal imbalance as a result of the modern world and environment. Our bodies are pretty good at getting us back in to balance, however, when it gets too much that’s when we have issues with our health and conception.
Maca is said to be one way to help our bodies rebalance.
However, the real question with all of these supplements is do they actually work???
There are lots of alleged health claims when it comes to Maca, however, of particular interest is the claims that it is a powerful tool for balancing hormones. The very hormones that modern life is pushing off balance and causing problems with conception: our reproductive hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
So, sounds great in theory… but….
What does the science say?
Well, nothing is certain and everyone reacts differently, however, there have been some interesting studies carried out which suggest that Maca does in fact have a real impact on your hormones.
A paper published in 2006 in the International Journal of Biomedical Science assessed the effect of pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (taken in capsule form) on the hormonal levels and symptoms of premenopausal women and concluded the following:
it did act as a toner of hormonal processes along the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis.
It did balance hormone levels
Relieved symptoms of menopausal discomfort (hot flushes/night sweating)
To quote the study directly:
‘It has been concluded that the non-hormonal Maca-GO preparation exhibits a hormone-balancing effect on the female organism’
Now, no study is perfect or conclusive, but the findings were compelling….
So, how does it actually work and where?
First off, a big positive. Unlike Soy for example, which contains a plant form of estrogen (phytoestrogens: which is why some say men should limit their consumption) it appears not to contain any plant estrogens, so it does not rely on that. Instead, it has been suggested that it relies on plant sterols - which effectively trigger a chain reaction which help the body modulate its own hormonal production better. So, instead of supplying hormones itself, it appears to fire up your body’s own ability to balance its hormones.
It doesn’t stop there….
‘Maca may be used by the body with the help of the pituitary to improve adrenal and ovarian (or testicular) functions, and therefore affect the thyroid, the pancreas, and the pineal gland (which also makes melatonin and which may have some connection to improved quality of sleep as observed in this study). The above may be one of the possible explanations why Maca-GO is so much more effective than phyto-estrogens in regulating hormonal balance’
Translation: it does not just target one hormone, but appears to balance out a broad spectrum….
...those all important stress response adrenal hormones (Cortisol and ACTH) which cause us a whole host of issues with conception. The study showed: ‘statistically significant (P<0.05) reduction in recorded values vs. Placebo’. We know that high cortisol plays havoc for conception so this is what you want. Click here for a reminder as to why this causes us such issues with conception: (insert link)
If that wasn’t enough….
‘Maca-GO significantly (P<0.05) increased overall E2 level with simultaneous significant (P<0.05) reduction of the overall LH levels as compared to Placebo treatment’.
What is E2? Why is it important?
This is Estradiol - to get a bit more in to the weeds as to what this hormone does click here: https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-does-Estradiol-do.aspx
But, here is the quick and dirty around what you need to know:
‘The most important hormone during a female’s reproductive years, and is required for reproductive and sexual function’.
It enhances the growth of the womb’s muscle layer
Maintains the eggs in the ovaries (occytes)
Triggers a series of events that lead to ovulation
It also plays a big role in pregnancy. The level rises (it is produced by the placenta) and it is thought to play a role maintaining the pregnancy
So when it comes to conception and a healthy pregnancy - we need it.
Now, when it comes to dosage: first and foremost as with any supplements if you are pregnant or have any health complications you must first consult your doctor. The next thing to do is to start small with a teaspoon a day and see how you get on. Most manufacturers recommend between one and three teaspoons per day but listen to your body, read the label carefully on the particular product you buy and be sensitive to changes. Start small and go slow. Remember: do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding without consulting your doctor.
If you really want to geek out further - check out the full study here:
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.