A nutritionally valuable plant indigenous to South America, maca grows in harsh climates above 4,000 feet. It has been used in traditional medicine to improve fertility and sexual performance in both men and women and to relieve menopausal symptoms. Maca is also believed to improve stamina in cancer patients.
In vitro, maca or its constituents have demonstrated antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain relieving effects. But, systematic reviews concluded that the evidence of maca's effectiveness for sexual dysfunction or for alleviating menopausal sympotms is limited, warranting further research. Maca's anticancer potential has yet to be determined.
Altered menstrual cycles, moodiness, cramps, gastritis, and insomnia have been reported with use of maca. Cancer patients should consult with their physician before consuming maca-containing products.
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