In recent times, you may have seen the term adaptogen popping up. Adaptogens can help the body deal better with mental or physical stressors, says Stacy Mobley, licensed naturopathic doctor. They can include things like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and one that’s getting more and more attention these days: maca root.
Maca root contains an array of vitamins, minerals, and protein, Mobley explains. That’s why this ingredient is thought to have properties that can help you relax and improve your mood. “This is how it, as an adaptogen, can help to support the body during stressful times,” says Mobley.
But can maca root help with sleep and other health conditions? Read on to find out.
What is maca root?
Maca root has traditionally been grown high in the Andes Mountains. It’s been utilized for centuries to increase stamina, energy, fertility, libido, and immune function and can help you adapt to stress, says Ellen Goldsmith, Chinese herbalist and licensed acupuncturist. She adds that it’s in the same family as familiar vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and mustard.
Sleep benefits of maca root
You might be wondering, “What is maca root good for?” When it comes to sleep, in particular, Mobley says there are a few benefits.
First, she says it can help improve mood by decreasing depression and anxiety, specifically due to its high antioxidant levels. In fact, Mobley even cites one study that found that maca root can lower blood pressure and depression in postmenopausal women.
Additionally, Mobley says maca root promotes relaxation, or reduces anxiety, by “modulating cortisol,” the stress hormone. “This allows the body to decrease the need for the flight or fight feeling within the nervous system,” she says. And feeling relaxed is certainly one way to fall asleep more easily.
Lastly, maca root can encourage increased restorative sleep, notes Mobley. Due to maca root’s adaptogenic nature, it can help decrease cortisol during the appropriate time of day so that the body and mind are more aware of the correct circadian rhythm, she says.
Other maca root benefits
In addition to potentially encouraging better sleep, maca root carries other health benefits. For instance, with its adaptogenic properties, Mobley says maca root can help support women through hormonal changes.
“The antioxidants in this vegetable help to give the body much-needed nutrients to decrease free radicals,” she says. “Free radicals tend to interfere with healing on a cellular level.” Also, maca root has been found to increase bone density and decrease night sweats, says Mobley.
She shares another study in which maca root ultimately lowered blood pressure and even symptoms of depression, which can improve sleep quality and are also generally good things to reduce.
It’s also well-known that maca root can increase libido in both men and women, another benefit Mobley notes.
How to add maca root to your routine
If the benefits of maca root have piqued your interest, then you may want to add it to your regular routine. In that case, Mobley says maca root capsules may be the best way to ensure the correct dosage.
“I would not suggest taking more than the maximum daily suggested on the supplement bottle without speaking with a healthcare professional, especially one knowledgeable about herbs,” she says.
Although maca root is caffeine-free, if you’re easily stimulated or concerned about falling asleep, Mobley suggests taking it before noon. Otherwise, it can be taken at any point during the day.
You also have the option of using maca root powder. Whether you take it in capsule or powder form, the suggested daily dose is usually 1 to 3 grams, depending on the reason you’re using it. Again, this is something to talk with your doctor about.
“A good, sound diet, exercise, and key management of other medical conditions can amplify the effects of maca root,” adds Mobley.
But is there anyone who shouldn’t take maca root? Mobley says the list includes pregnant and lactating people since there isn’t enough research that supports these populations taking maca root. The list also includes men and women taking hormone therapy—in this case, you should inquire with or inform your healthcare provider for further direction.
What happens if you take maca root every day?
Essentially, the benefits and positive effects will “build over time,” says Mobley. She adds that it’s best to take maca root daily.
What does maca root do for a woman?
“Maca root helps to decrease perimenopause symptoms, decrease blood pressure, increase libido, decrease depressive and anxious feelings, and deal with overall life stressors better,” Mobley says.
What does maca root do for men?
“Maca root helps to modulate testosterone, support fertility, increase nitrous oxide (NO), which helps with erectile dysfunction, and adapt to a variety of stressors,” says Mobley.
Does maca root increase testosterone?
According to Mobley, yes, maca root can help increase testosterone.
This article originally appeared on Saatva and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
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