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Maca Research
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Maca Research

Clinical studies on Maca:


Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice.

Rubio J, Caldas M, Dávila S, Gasco M, Gonzales GF.


Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy and Instituto de Investigaciones de la Altura, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru. 09008@upch.edu.pe
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Lepidium meyenii Walp. (Brassicaceae), known as Maca, is a Peruvian hypocotyl growing exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m altitude in the central Peruvian Andes, particularly in Junin plateau and is used traditionally to enhance fertility. Maca is a cultivated plant and different cultivars are described according to the color of the hypocotyls.

METHODS: The study aimed to elucidate the effect of Yellow, Red and Black Maca on cognitive function and depression in ovariectomized (OVX) mice. In all experiments OVX mice were treated during 21 days and divided in four groups: control group, Yellow Maca, Red Maca and Black Maca. Latent learning was assessed using the water finding task and the antidepressant activity of the three varieties of Maca was evaluated using the forced swimming test. Animals were sacrificed at the end of each treatment and the uterus were excised and weighed.

RESULTS: Black Maca was the variety that showed the best response in the water finding task, particularly in the trained mice. The three varieties were effective to reduce finding latency in non trained and trained mice (P < 0.05). In the force swimming test, all varieties assessed reduced the time of immobility and increased uterine weight in OVX mice.

CONCLUSION: Black Maca appeared to have more beneficial effects on latent learning in OVX mice; meanwhile, all varieties of Maca showed antidepressant activity.

 

black-maca-research-1.jpg

Figure 1
Effect of Yellow, Red and Black Maca on entering latency in non-trained (NT) and trained (T) OVX mice using the water finding task. Data are presented as mean ± SEM. aP < 0.05 with respect to non trained control group; bP < 0.05 with respect to trained control group; cP < 0.05 with respect to non trained mice treated with Black Maca; dP < 0.05 with respect to non trained mice treated with Red Maca.
From:
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006; 6: 23.
Published online 2006 June 23. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-23.

 

black-maca-research-2.jpg

Figure 2
Effect of Yellow, Red and Black Maca on finding latency in non-trained (NT) and trained (T) OVX mice using the water finding task. Data are presented as mean ± SEM. aP < 0.05 with respect to non trained control group; bP < 0.05 with respect to trained control group; cP < 0.05 with respect to non trained mice treated with Black Maca.
From:
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006; 6: 23.
Published online 2006 June 23. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-23.

black-maca-research-3.jpg

Figure 3
Effect of Yellow, Red and Black Maca on drinking latency in non-trained (NT) and trained (T) OVX mice using the water findingtask. Data are presented as mean ± SEM. aP < 0.05 with respect to non trained control group; bP < 0.05 with respect to trained control group; cP < 0.05 with respect to non trained mice treated with Black Maca; dP < 0.05 with respect to non trained mice treated with Red Maca.
From:
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006; 6: 23.
Published online 2006 June 23. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-23.

black-maca-research-4.jpg

Figure 4
Immobility time, in the forced swimming test, inOVX mice treatedwith three different varieties of Lepidium meyenii (Maca). Data are mean ± SEM. *P < 0.05 with respect to control group.
From:
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006; 6: 23.
Published online 2006 June 23. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-23.



 

J Endocrinol. 2003 Jan;176(1):163-8.

Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men.

 

Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, Gonez C.

Instituto de Investigaciones de la Altura, and Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences (Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy), Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, PO 1843, Lima, Peru.

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. This study was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with a placebo. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that Maca has no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels in apparently healthy men when administered in doses used for aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. Men aged between 21 and 56 Years received 1500 mg or 3000 mg Maca. Serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone and 17-beta estradiol were measured before and at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment with placebo or Maca (1.5 g or 3.0 g per day). Data showed that compared with placebo Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time. Multiple regression analysis showed that serum testosterone levels were not affected by treatment with Maca at any of the times studied (P, not significant). In conclusion, treatment with Maca does not affect serum reproductive hormone levels.


Andrologia. 2002 Dec;34(6):367-72.

Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men.

Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, Gonez C, Castillo S.

Instituto de Investigaciones de la Altura, and Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences (Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy), Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru.

This study was a 12-week double blind placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with placebo. The study aimed to demonstrate if effect of Maca on subjective report of sexual desire was because of effect on mood or serum testosterone levels. Men aged 21-56 years received Maca in one of two doses: 1500 mg or 3000 mg or placebo. Self-perception on sexual desire, score for Hamilton test for depression, and Hamilton test for anxiety were measured at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment. An improvement in sexual desire was observed with Maca since 8 weeks of treatment. Serum testosterone and oestradiol levels were not different in men treated with Maca and in those treated with placebo (P:NS). Logistic regression analysis showed that Maca has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, and this effect is not because of changes in either Hamilton scores for depression or anxiety or serum testosterone and oestradiol levels. In conclusion, treatment with Maca improved sexual desire.


J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Sep 25;50(20):5621-5.

Investigation of the tuber constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.).

Piacente S, Carbone V, Plaza A, Zampelli A, Pizza C.

Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche, Universita degli Studi di Salerno, via Ponte Don Melillo, 84084 Fisciano, Italy.

Lepidium meyenii, known in South America as maca, has received attention worldwide as a powerful energizer that improves physical and mental conditions and increases fertility. Because of these reports, we investigated the secondary metabolites of the tuber of maca. The methanol extract of the tuber of maca contained, in addition to free sugars and amino acids, the following: uridine, malic acid and its benzoyl derivative, and the glucosinolates, glucotropaeolin and m-methoxyglucotropaeolin. Because glucosinolates and their derived products have received increasing attention due to their biological activities, the occurrence of glucosinolate degradation products in the hexane extract was also investigated, and benzylisothiocyanate and its m-methoxy derivative were isolated. The two glucosinolates were semiquantified by HPLC, and benzylisothiocyanate was semiquantified by GC/MS. The methanol extract of maca tuber also contained (1R,3S)-1-methyltetrahydro-beta-carboline-3-carboxylic acid, a molecule which is reported to exert many activities on the central nervous system.


Phytochemistry. 2002 Sep;61(2):149-55.

Composition of the essential oil of Lepidium meyenii (Walp).

Tellez MR, Khan IA, Kobaisy M, Schrader KK, Dayan FE, Osbrink W.

Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Box 8048, University, MS 38677, USA.

The essential oil profile of maca (Lepidium meyenii) obtained from Lima, Peru, was examined. Steam distillates of the aerial parts of L. meyenii were continuously extracted with pentane and the pentane extracts analyzed by GC/MS. Retention indices and mass spectral data were used to identify 53 oil components. Phenyl acetonitrile (85.9%), benzaldehyde (3.1%), and 3-methoxyphenylacetonitrile (2.1%) were the major components of the steam distilled oil. The oil of L. meyenii was tested for phytotoxic, cyanobactericidal, and antitermite activity. The oil was selectively toxic towards the cyanobacterium Oscillatoria perornata compared to the green alga Selenastrum capricornutum, with complete growth inhibition at 100 microg/ml. Mortality of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, was numerically, but not significantly, higher when held on filter paper treated with maca oil. At 1% (w/w), maca oil also appeared to act as a feeding deterrent to termites. Several minor components of the essential oil of maca including 3-methoxyphenylacetonitrile and benzylthiocyanate were significantly active against the Formosan termite. This is the first report on the essential oil composition of L. meyenii.


Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2002 Jul;50(7):988-91.

Chemical profiling and standardization of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography.

 

Ganzera M, Zhao J, Muhammad I, Khan IA.

National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Mississippi, University 38577, USA.

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is one of the few plants that can be cultivated in the harsh climate of the Andes. Its nutritious hypocotyl is traditionally used as food and medicine, and Maca products are increasingly becoming popular in the western world as tonics. This paper describes the first analytical method allowing the determination of the main macamides and macaenes, the marker compounds of L. meyenii. A separation within 35 min was possible by using a C-12 stationary phase, an acidic mobile phase comprising of acetonitrile and water, and raising the column temperature to 40 degrees C. By monitoring the separation at 210 and 280 nm, the markers were detectable as low as 0.40 microg/ml. In order to validate the method, accuracy, precision, linearity, limit of detection and intra/inter day repeatability were determined. The analysis of several commercially available Maca products showed a similar qualitative pattern but significant differences in the quantitative composition. The percentage of total markers in the preparations varied from 0.15 to 0.84%, resulting in daily intakes for the consumer from 1.52 to 14.88 mg, respectively.


Phytochemistry. 2002 Jan;59(1):105-10.

Constituents of Lepidium meyenii 'maca'.

Muhammad I, Zhao J, Dunbar DC, Khan IA.

National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University MS 38677, USA.

The tubers of Lepidium meyenii contain the benzylated derivative of 1,2-dihydro-N-hydroxypyridine, named macaridine, together with the benzylated alkamides (macamides), N-benzyl-5-oxo-6E,8E-octadecadienamide and N-benzylhexadecanamide, as well as the acyclic keto acid, 5-oxo-6E,8E-octadecadienoic acid. The structure elucidation of the isolated compounds was based primarily on 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic analyses, including 1H-1H COSY, 1H-13C HMQC, 1H-13C HMBC and 1H-1H NOESY experiments, as well as from 1H-15N NMR HMBC correlations for macaridine and N-benzylhexadecanamide.


Asian J Androl 2001 Dec; 3: 301-303

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men

 


Gustavo F. Gonzales, Amanda Cordova, Carla Gonzales, Arturo Chung, Karla Vega, Arturo Villena

Department of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy and Ins tituto de Investigaciones de la Altura. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

 

Keywords: sperm count; sperm motility; Peruvian plants; Maca; Lepidium meyenii


Abstract


Aim: The present study was designed to determine the effect of a 4 month oral treatment with tablets of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on seminal analysis in nine adult normal men aged 24-44 years old. Methods: Nine men received tablets of Maca (1500 or 3000 mg/day) for 4 months. Seminal analysis was performed according to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) were measured before and after treatment. Results: Treatment with Maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not modified with Maca treatment. Increase of sperm count was not related to dose of Maca. Conclusion: Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility by mechanisms not related to LH, FSH, PRL, T and E2.

1 Introduction
Maca is the root of a Peruvian plant Lepidium meyenii (Brassicaceae), growing in the Central Andean Region of Peru between 4000 and 4500 m altitude, mainly in Junin and Cerro de Pasco. This species is described in the catalogue of the flowering plants and gymnosperms of Peru[1] . Maca is traditionally employed, among others, to improve sexuality and fertility. Oral administration of Maca significantly improved the sexual behavior in male rats and mice[2,3]. More recently, it has been demonstrated that Maca improves spermatogenesis in male rats[4], however, its effect on sperm production in men has not been assessed. The present investigation was designed to study the effect of oral administration of Maca on the semen parameters and serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) levels in normal male volunteers.

2 Materials and methods
2.1 Maca

Maca (Maca Gelatinizada La Molina) tablets were provided by the Laboratorios Hersil (Lima, Peru). Each tablet contains 500 mg of the root. This product could be purchased in the pharmacy as a nutrient.

2.2 Subjects and treatment

Twelve healthy men, 24-44 years of age, were recruited in the study, but 3 dropped out due to personal reasons during the 4 month treatment period. They had not received any kind of medical treatment for at least 3 months before the study. All the subjects gave written consent to participate in the study after being informed of the purpose, benefit and possible risks of the study. Among the 9 men with complete data, 6 were married and 3, single. Semen samples were collected by masturbation after a 3 day abstinence and fasting blood samples obtained between 08.00-09.00 h before and at the end of the treatment. Sera were kept frozen until hormone assay. Six subjects received 1500 mg/day, whereas 3, 3000 mg/day of Maca for 4 months. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Scientific Research Office, at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.

2.3 Semen analysis

The ejaculate volume, semen consistency, sperm motility, sperm morphology and sperm concentration were assessed according to the WHO manual[5]. Spermatozoa were graded “a” (rapid progressive motility), “b” (slow or sluggish progressive motility), “c” (nonprogressive motility), or “d” (immotility) as recommended by the manual.

2.4 Hormone assay

LH, FSH, and PRL were measured by immunoradiometric assay (IRMA), whereas T and E2 were measured by radioimmunoassay using commercial kits (Diagnostic Product Co, California).

2.5 Statistical analysis

Data were expressed in mean±SEM, if applicable. Statistical analysis was performed by the Student’s t-test.The difference was considered significant when P<0.05.


3 Results

Data on semen analysis are presented in Table 1. The semen volume, total sperm count, motile sperm count, and sperm motility (Grades a+b) were significantly increased after treatment with Maca (P<0.05). Motility Grade a sperm was also increased, but statistically insignificant. There were no significant differences between the two dosage levels of Maca used. In 4 of the 9 subjects, who had low basal serum FSH levels, the sperm count was not increased after Maca treatment .
Maca treatment did not significantly change the levels of the hormones assayed (Table 2).

Table 1. Semen variables before and 4 month after Maca treatment.
Table 2. Hormonal levels before and 4 month after Maca treatment.

4 Discussion

Semen volume resulted from the contributions of seminal vesicles (60%), prostate (30%) and epididymis(10%)[6]. All these glands are androgen dependent[7]. Sperm motility was also androgen dependent[6]. Maca treatment was able to increase both the semen volume and sperm motility. However, we failed to find any increase in serum testosterone levels during Maca treatment, which may suggest that either bioavailable testosterone or testosterone receptor binding might be augmented.

Another possibility is that Maca may act without the participation of androgen mechanism. This seems to be supported by the fact that the weight of seminal vesicle, a target for androgen action, was not influenced by Maca in adult male rats[4].

In adult male rats, Maca has been shown to be beneficial to spermatogenesis[4]. In the present study, sperm count was increased by Maca without affecting the FSH level. It is possible that Maca may improve the response of Sertoli cells to FSH. We have demonstrated in women that oral administration of Maca for 2 weeks resulted in an increase in the size of the dominant follicles (unpublished data), which also suggested that Maca may improve the response to FSH. Further studies will be required to clarify this issue. In conclusion, Maca administration as tablets may improve sperm production and sperm motility.

 

References

[1] Brako L, Zarucchi JL. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden; 1993. p 229.
[2] Zheng BL, He K, Kim CH, Rogers L, Shao Y, Huang ZY, et al. Effect of lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology 2000; 55: 598-602.
[3] Cicero AF, Bandieri E, Arletti R. Lepidium meyenii Walp improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity. J Ethnopharmacol 2001; 75: 225-9.
[4] Gonzales GF, Ruiz A, Gonzales C, Villegas L, Córdova A. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) rotos, a Peruvian plant on spermatogenesis of male rats. Asian J Androl 2001; 3:231-3.
[5] World Health Organization. WHO laboratory manual for the examination of human semen and sperm cervical mucus interaction. 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1999. p 1-10.
[6] Gonzales GF. Functional structure and ultra structure of seminal vesicles. Arch Androl 1988; 22: 1-13.
[7] Gonzales GF. A test for bioandrogenicity in men attending an infertility service. Arch Androl 1988; 21: 135-42.


Asian J Androl. 2001 Sep;3(3):231-3.

Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) roots on spermatogenesis of male rats.

Gonzales GF, Ruiz A, Gonzales C, Villegas L, Cordova A.

Department of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru. iiad@upch.edu.pe

AIM: To determine the effect of oral administration of an aqueous extract from the roots of Lepidium meyenii (maca) on spermatogenesis in adult male rats. METHODS: Male rats received an aqueous extract of the root (66.7 mg in one mL) twice a day for 14 consecutive days. RESULTS: Treatment with Lepidium meyenii resulted in an increase in the weights of testis and epididymis but not the seminal vesicle weight. The length and frequency of stages IX-XIV seminiferous tubules, where mitosis occurred, were increased and stages I-VI were reduced in rats treated with Lepidium meyenii. CONCLUSION: The Lepidium meyenii root invigorates spermatogenesis in male rats by acting on its initial stages (IX-XIV).


J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 May;75(2-3):225-9.

Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity.

Cicero AF, Bandieri E, Arletti R.

Biomedical Sciences Department, Pharmacology Section, University of Modena and Reggio nell'Emilia, Via G. Campi, 287, 41100, Modena, Italy.

Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Maca) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed properties to improve energy and fertility. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of acute and chronic Maca pulverised root oral administration on rat sexual behaviour. Sixty male sexually experienced rats (20 group) were daily treated for 15 days with Maca 15 mg kg(-1), Maca 75 mg kg(-1) or saline 0.5 ml kg(-1). The following sexual performance parameters were evaluated at first and last day of treatment: 1st mount (ML), 1st intromission (IL), ejaculation (EL) and postejaculatory (PEL) latencies, intercopulatory interval (ICI) and copulatory efficacy (CE). An activity cage test was carried out to evaluate if Maca-induced locomotion changes could indirectly improve rat sexual performances. It was observed that both lower and higher Maca doses acutely decreased ML, IL and ICI in a significant way (P < 0.05), while only the 75 mg kg(-1) dose decreased the PEL (T = 29, P < 0.05). This effect seems to be the only one dose-dependent. After 15 days of treatment, both doses are able to significantly decrease ML, IL, EL and PEL, while the 75 mg kg(-1) dose decreased the ICI (T = 40, P < 0.05) too. IL, EL and PEL variations seem to be dose-related after chronic treatment. Moreover, chronic Maca treatment induced an apparently not dose-related increase in rat locomotion, during the second 10-min period of observation in the activity cage. The late in Maca-induced locomotion modification excludes that improvement of tested sexual performance parameters is related to an increase in rat aspecific activity. Thus, it was concluded that both acute and chronic Maca oral administration significantly improve sexual performance parameters in male rats.


Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2000 Jun;50(2):126-33.

[Nutritional evaluation of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) in albino mice and their descendants]

[Article in Spanish]

Canales M, Aguilar J, Prada A, Marcelo A, Huaman C, Carbajal L.

Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt, Lima-Peru.

The Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between the 3700 and 4500 masl at the Peruvian Andes. Traditionally it is attributed nutritional, energizing, fertilizing properties among others. With the purpose of evaluate scientifically the nutritional property of Maca, we carried out a controlled study in two generations of albino Swiss mice (parents and breeding). The parents were aleatorily assigned to one of three nutritional schedules. The food of each group was prepared based on powder from a commercial balanced food (CBF) of which 30% was replaced by raw or cooked Maca according to the corresponding group or pure CBF in the control group. The groups were this way: 1) Raw Maca Group; 2) Cooked Maca Group; and, 3) Control Group. The results showed that the curves of growth were similar and adequate for the three groups. However, the cooked Maca group showed the best curve. These data were better observable in the second generation of animals, with significant statistical difference (p < 0.05). The CBF group had a better growth than raw Maca group. No signs of malnutrition nor overweight were observed in none of the groups. The serum values of total proteins and albumin were statistically superior for the mice group eating cooked Maca than that of the raw Maca and CBF groups. This study demonstrates, in a scientifical evaluation, one of the traditionally attributed properties of Maca, the nutritional capability.