Maca (Lepidium meyenii): Pharmacology Part 1

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Brassica family of vegetables that may have significant physiological effects in humans and animals. In particular, maca may be able to cause improvements in physical exercise tolerance and may have beneficial effects on reproductive biology. The effects of the plant are conferred through a number of phytochemicals that belong to a number of different classes. Macaene and macamide are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in Maca, and it has been suggested that these compounds are responsible for the reproductive effects of maca. The amount of macaene and macamide found in maca varies depending on the growing conditions and the variety of plant but may be somewhere between 0.09 to 0.045 % for macaene and between 0.06 and 0.52 % for macamide, of dried weight. Total polyunsaturated fatty acids in maca are somewhere in the region of 30.4 % of dried weight. Whilst one type of macaene has been found there are up to 16 different macamide compounds present in maca.

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Wang, Y., Wang, Y., McNeil, B. and Harvey, L. M. 2007. Maca: An Andean crop with multi-pharmacological functions. Food Research International. 40(7): 783-792

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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