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Aug 9-11,2013 ~Toronto
Dr. Gabriel Cousens MD
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Raw Vegan Food
Maca 8-oz. (227g) bag (raw, certified organic) - Sunfood
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Ancient Peruvian Superfood!
Maca is a food. Its designation as an herb imparting specific health benefits is also true, but primarily maca is eaten as a food by people living in a harsh environment where there is little else.
Are there any side effects or interactions? In toxicity studies conducted in the U.S., maca showed absolutely no toxicity and no adverse pharmacological effects. In animal studies, the more maca animals consume, the stronger and more sexually active they become.
Historical or traditional use: Maca's history as a powerful strength and stamina enhancer and libido-fertility herb stretches back well over five hundred years. Maca is a powerful adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body's systems. Maca can raise low blood pressure AND lower high blood pressure. Adaptogens also boost immunity and harmonize the body's overall vitality. Rather than addressing a specific symptom, adaptogens are used to improve the overall adaptability of the whole system.
During the height of the Incan Empire, legend has it that Incan warriors would consume maca before entering into battle. This would make them fiercely strong. But after conquering a city the Incan soldiers were prohibited from using maca, to protect the conquered women from their powerful sexual impulses. Thus from as far back as five hundred years ago, maca's reputation for enhancing strength, libido and fertility was already well established in Peru.
Parts used and where grown: Maca is a hardy perennial plant cultivated high in the Andean Mountains at altitudes between 11,000 to 14,000 feet. It grows as a mat-like stem system. Maca leaves grow close to the ground and the plant produces a small self-fertile off-white flower typical to the mustard family, which it belongs to. The part we are interested in, is the pear-like tuberous root of about 8cm in diameter and of a pale-white color. Although it is a perennial, it is reproduced by seeds which require around 7-9 months for harvesting.
Active constituents: Dried maca weighs in at about 60% carbohydrates (starches and sugars), 9% fiber, and slightly more than 10% protein. It has a higher lipid (fat) content than other root crops (2.2%), of which linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid are the primary fatty acids, respectively. Maca is also a rich source of sterols, including sitosterol, campestrol, ergosterol, brassicasterol, and ergostadienol. From a mineral standpoint, maca exceeds both potatoes and carrots in value, and is a good source of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine.
Other reported traditional uses: Archeological evidence has been found, that Maca was domesticated over 2000 years ago by the predecessors of the Incas and primitive cultivars of Maca were even found in places dating back to 1600 years before Christ.
For the indigenous inhabitants of the Andes, Maca is a vital and valuable commodity. Because so little grows in this region, Maca is often used for trading against other staple food like beans, rice, corn and sugar. It had been used over the ages for its nutritious and medical advantages. Maca is rich in sugar, proteins, starches and important minerals, especially in iron and iodine.
Maca can be consumed fresh or dried. The fresh roots are considered a treat. Even a fermented drink chicha is prepared in some regions.
Research on Maca: Peruvians claim that maca improves memory, combats anemia, and fights depression. Some researchers note that when the body is well-nourished, libido rises and depression abates; maca's nutrient value could explain some of these purported actions. The root, which tastes like butterscotch when it's roasted like a potato, can also be prepared into jam, broth, puddings, and juices, and contains five times more protein than a potato, four times more fiber, and less fat. It contains linoleic and oleic oils (two types of essential fatty acids) and essential amino acids.
Maca's actions on sexual function are better researched than its effects on mood and memory. One study showed that maca increased fertility in rats. Then came studies of guinea pigs, rams, and cows, each of which corroborated maca's fertility-enhancing effects. For example, maca significantly increased ram semen volume and sperm count.
Researchers consider plant sterols, isothiocyanates, and glucosinolates to be maca's active constituents. The sterols have been shown to reduce cholesterol; this can positively affect erectile response if erection is compromised by artery clogging fats. And the isothiocyanate p-methylbenzyl has been shown to increase fertility in humans. Advance word has it that animal research will soon be published in a major medical journal that identifies maca's secret agents of sexual desire and energy.
The actions of four alkaloids from maca root may also serve to increase animal fertility. One of the researchers heading current studies on maca, Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacon de Popivici, Ph.D., suggests that maca alkaloids act on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis and the adrenals. These areas of the body produce hormones as well as energizing substances like adrenaline. The end result could be an increase in energy, vitality, and virility. Still, no studies of maca itself have been conducted on human sexual response, despite physicians' claims that maca positively affects ovarian function in women, and, as mentioned previously, erectile function in men.
Today maca is becoming increasingly popular in Peru among native and non-native people, and the effects of maca are creating market demand in Japan, Europe and the United States. Maca cultivation is on the increase, a number of government experts and agencies are actively promoting maca agriculture and development, and maca is poised to be a major botanical product on the international herbal scene. Certified organic, certified kosher.
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