Is Maca Root Stimulating
Maca root is a nutrient rich vegetable that grows in the high Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia. It is increasing in popularity as a “superfood” due to its many reported benefits. If you’ve heard about maca and researched it a bit, you’ve probably come across reports of its energy boosting characteristics. But, is that actually true? Is maca root stimulating? In this article we’ll have a look at how maca root powder and other forms of maca are similar to and different from more commonly known stimulant foods.
What is a stimulant?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a stimulant is “an agent (such as a drug) that produces a temporary increase of the functional activity or efficiency of an organism or any of its parts.” When it comes to the most common type of natural stimulants, coffee, tea, nicotine and ginseng are among the most well-known. Each of these substances can temporarily increase energy levels, alertness, focus and feelings of well-being. This type of stimulation often involves prompting the adrenal glands to produce more hormones than necessary which puts your body into a heightened state for a number of hours, leading to a later crash in energy.
Is maca a stimulant like coffee or tea?
Interestingly, maca can also have a stimulating effect on the body (more on that in the moment) but it works in a much different way than coffee or tea. These substances contain either caffeine or theine, which temporarily boosts energy by activating the adrenal glands. Maca root, however, contains absolutely no caffeine or theine. That means it does not interact with the adrenals. The benefit to this is that maca will not give you an “energy crash” after taking it like coffee and tea can. Instead the energy that comes from maca is more sustained.
In addition, unlike coffee or tea, maca does not lead to inflammation in some people, does not tend to increase blood pressure (maca actually can support lower blood pressure), does not become less effective with overuse and does not have negative symptoms when you decide to take a break.
How maca works as a stimulant
Comparing maca root to coffee or tea is not a particularly good comparison. While coffee and tea give a near immediate boost to energy levels, the energy that comes from taking maca comes on slower and lasts longer.
There are three a major things that maca does to stimulate energy levels.
- Maca contains unique nutrients called macaenes and macamides which are thought to play a role in achieving healthy hormonal health. Maca doesn’t contain any type of hormone, be it estrogen or testosterone. Instead it stimulates the body to produce and/or reduce hormones as needed. A balanced endocrine system leads to general feelings of well-being and elevated energy.
- Maca is considered an adaptogen. These are special types of herbs or foods that stimulate the body to “adapt” which can include coping better with stress, increasing energy and more. Ginseng is another example of an adapdogentic substance. Both maca and ginseng can improve the sensation of well-being or give you a sense of stronger life force energy.
- Maca is nutrient rich, especially when it comes to amino acids. It contains 19 essential aminos and 20 free fatty acids. These contribute to the functioning of the body in a variety of ways. (See maca’s complete nutritional profile).
What research says about maca as a stimulant
The research about the stimulating properties of maca is ongoing. Original research on maca for energy (done in the 2000s) was promising and since then there have been several studies that connect maca with this particular benefit. Pubmed lists over 40 of them currently. Here are some highlights:
- A study from 2014 showed that maca supports a variety of functions in the body including: “reproductive function, memory, anxiety and depression, and energy as well as effects on benign prostatic hyperplasia, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome.” This study also says that black maca improved semen quality and sperm count among males.
- In 2021 a study on fatigue in mice concluded that “the effects of Maca played a crucial role in the regulation of exercise-induced fatigue in mouse muscle, which could be expected to serve as a functional food supplement for improving exercise performance and alleviating physical fatigue.
- A study from 2022 found that maca powder and particular the polysaccharide in maca “… plays a protective role in CYP-induced hepatotoxicity through these potential metabolic means, where it ameliorates oxidative stress, improves energy metabolism, and restores mitochondrial respiration by regulating the Keap1-Nrf2 signaling pathway, thereby preventing liver damage.”
What this research suggests is certainly promising and leads us to conclude that maca is a unique and excellent stimulant. Of course, research is ongoing, especially research on humans as several of the studies cited above were animal studies.
What people say about maca and energy
We have a variety of feedback on our maca from customers as well. Many rave about its ability to stimulate their energy levels. (More maca reviews here).
"Your products have brought me more energy, than I had in over 30 years. Sure glad your family have invested in bring the most Maca have to offer, please keep that up. Thank You" -Diego L. Chance
"I have a physical job lifting heavy boxes up to 100lbs. I need help from others but when they are not around I depend on Maca to get me through. If I miss two days I really feel the weakness at work." - R.J.
"I had been taking the yellow maca and when I ran out I decided to try the red maca. Seems to work better for me. Since I have a rare blood gene where I can't take hormones the red maca is really making a difference for me. My energy levels and sex drive have really improved." - Rose Anne
"I feel it shortly after consuming it, as it produces a surge of energy, I feel I'm in charge mode." - Dennis Gard
"The black maca has been a great addition to the vegan protein powder which I have been taking for a month. I go to the gym 3-4 times per week, and the maca appears to help in my workout recovery." - C.J.
What to expect when taking maca as a stimulant
You’ll see that some of the feedback from customers suggests that the boost in energy from maca comes quickly after consuming it. While that is the case for some people, it is certainly not universal. For many, maca root takes several weeks to build up in the system and to begin stabilizing the endocrine system. Depending on your levels of stress, age, activity level and more, maca may take a while to work. We recommend staying consistent with it for at least one month.
Once you’re past that month (or earlier if your body responds more quickly) you are likely to feel an increase in energy and focus about an hour after taking maca powder capsules, extract or chips. This increase is NOT like the jolt you might experience from coffee, tea or an energy drink. Rather, it’s more pleasant and gives most people a feeling of increased motivation and mental clarity. This often lasts for several hours before gradually fading. Some people like to take some maca extracts at that point if needed for an additional boost.
Note: one way to energize your day even more quickly is to try our maca superfood blend called The Morning Motivator. It’s meant as a coffee replacement or alternative that increases energy in a healthier way.
What are the downsides of taking maca for energy?
First, there are no known contraindications for taking maca. It is a food and not a pharmaceutical. That said, maca can lower your blood pressure, so make sure to keep that in mind and consult with your doctor if you are on blood pressure medicines. Beyond that, if you have sensitive digestion be sure to choose a gelatinized (pre-cooked) maca product over a raw one. Gelatinzied maca has had the starch removed and will not cause any indigestion.
We hope that this article has helped you answer the question of whether maca is a stimulant or not and what kind of stimulant it is. There is so much upside to adding maca to your diet. We’ve seen so many people benefit and if you have not yet done so, we hope that you are next.
Enjoy the day!