Is Maca Really a Superfood? : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Tuesday Jun 7 | BY |
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Here are some Peruvian superfoods I’ll talk more about later next month!

There are a ton of so-called superfoods on the market…

My approach is to err on the side of caution when using them, because I overstimulated myself with too much raw chocolate and caused a chain reaction of negative health effects.

So when I get questions about superfoods, I have a pretty standard approach and line of questioning that I take.

We received this email in the HelpDesk a week or two ago and I think it’s a valuable question(s) to answer…

“In the past, on several occasions I have tried to take maca powder, in small amounts (i.e. 1/4 tsp. in the a.m.). In every instance, I couldn’t sleep that night. Now, I have to say, that I believe I do have an adrenal issue, because poor sleep has been an issue for me for the past 20 years after several years of illness/surgeries due to Crohn’s Disease. But it was even worse after taking the maca. I realize you’re not a doctor, but am curious if you think that the maca is just too much stimulation for my weakened adrenals?” – Marie

Great question, Marie!

Here are my thoughts on maca, superfoods and adrenals for you as well as anyone else who may have experienced this in the past.

First, for those who may not know what maca is, let me explain a little about it…

To me maca is a superfood, it just needs to be used carefully.

It is a root from the cruciferous family (kale, broccoli, cabbage) that grows in the mountainous regions of Peru (and other parts of the Andes.) It has storied use as an energy booster, a hormone regulator / modulator, and aphrodisiac.

It’s mainly eaten in the U.S. in powder or extract form, but here in Peru (it’s a fitting subject) you can find chicha de maca, maca flour and porridge.

On thing that surprised me when I did some research on maca in the past and again recently while we’re here in Peru is that maca is almost NEVER traditionally eaten raw. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but it’s a thing to consider.

Now on to a more direct answer to this question…

If you can’t sleep, the food isn’t for you.

Simply put, if you are taking a food for whatever your illness, disease or longevity and it’s keeping you up, the long term damage of lost sleep is more than likely going to outweigh any supposed (or real) benefits of the food.

So if maca or any other food like cacao, sugar, honey, herbal teas, coffee, alcohol or anything else is keeping you up, cut it out of your diet.

Plenty of cultures have lived healthy lives without many of these superfoods before we were able to ship them all over the globe. (Please keep in mind, I don’t think eating foods from other countries or superfoods are patently bad – everything has pluses and minuses.)

I love Ceylon cinnamon and the cinnamon that we share with you is grown organically, fair trade and helps provide work for farmers in rural Costa Rica (where sometimes it’s hard to find.)

We get this from Costa Rica, so yes, it comes in a plane. It takes fossil fuel. But at the same time, our dollars support members of a community. You can take your pick. It’s entirely up to you to decide which story you read into.

Anyway, back to Marie’s question…

Just because someone says maca is great, doesn’t mean it’s great for you.

I don’t think there’s any need to explain this further than just to rehash it…

Just because someone says maca is great, doesn’t mean it’s great for you.

Your body, although it may look similar to the person next to you at work, on the subway or that you sleep next to, likely will react differently to different things.

It’s not necessarily because we’re hardwired differently – while there are some genetics involved – it’s because we’ve all had different experiences that have contributed to our bodies working differently.

Some of us have taken antibiotics, others have tons of stress, others have damaged their thyroids, others don’t exercise… regardless, there are many issues that can affect how the body metabolizes food, but one thing is for sure, if it doesn’t work for you – whatever the food may be – give it a rest.

With superfoods, less is usually better.

We live, at least in the U.S. in a culture of excess.

I’m a victim of it too.

I used to think that if a little chocolate is good, then a lot is better.

In the superfood culture, this is certainly the case as well.

It’s almost like these foods – at times – are being used to stimulate the body just enough to simulate a drug type high.

I’ve seen people drink cup after cup of superfood elixirs at parties and events and frankly, they look like they’re smoked a big old joint or ripped a few lines of blow.

So my only warning to you, when taking them therapeutically, is to separate the healing culture from the superfood culture.

Understand that there is more than one type of motivation and you may be caught up in one when you’re really, truly looking to feel better – not like you’ve just done a bong hit.

What this all leads to, of course, is the initial point I made when I started, with superfoods less is better – to start.

If you’re taking them therapeutically, start slow and steady and test your threshold. See where the results meet the negatives and pull back a bit. That’s likely how much you need.

Also, if from the very beginning you feel the negatives, just leave that food be.

And finally, if you don’t need superfoods therapeutically, why bother taking them at all?

I don’t take maca, cacao, goji berries and many other herbs and foods regularly anymore for this exact reason. (I do take them on occasion.)

The Cruciferous question.

Like I said in the beginning, maca is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family.

I’ve written extensively about the connection between thyroid and cruciferous vegetables, so I’m not going to rehash all the information here.

What I will do is give you this simple cruciferous vegetable guide.

1. If you have a perfectly fine thyroid, you should be able to eat raw cruciferous vegetables.

2. If you have a thyroid issue, cook or avoid cruciferous vegetables.

3. Eating too many cruciferous vegetables (excessively – like kale juice every day, a raw kale salad at lunch and raw broccoli and cauliflower for dinner) could lead to thyroid suppression.

Maca use, since it is a cruciferous vegetable as well, falls under these rules as well.

Maca makes me feel weird.

There’s not too much science to this one, but when I take maca, I feel plain old weird.

I’ve taken capsules, tinctures, and powders and no matter what maca makes my skin tingle and tweaks my mind to the point where I feel uncomfortable with myself.

A little or a lot, doesn’t matter. I get the same effects.

I’ve shelved it for the time being. Maybe I’ll try it again in a year to see if I get the same reaction, but chances are I’ll wait even longer.

I simply don’t like the way it makes me feel.

(I’ve actually never tried cooked maca flour, so I plan on getting some here in Peru and seeing if I get the same effects.)

How do you know you have an adrenal issue?

Moving on to more specific questions for Marie, when someone tells me that they have a specific issue, I always want to know how they know that specifically.

Marie, I’m assuming you’re done your homework and gotten your blood tests or hormones tested and identified your issue clearly, but if you haven’t I urge you to see someone who can help you figure out what’s going on with you.

You may find that it’s not just your adrenals. It could be other issues like residual digestion issues, thyroid weakness, and more.

The best way to actually use herbs and supplements to get better is to actually know what you’re dealing with, so you can choose the most effective products for your specific condition. This will save you a lot of stress, as well as save you a lot of money.

Believe me, when I was dealing with my acne I spent a lot of money on things that didn’t work. When I identified a hormone imbalance and yeast infection, I was able to target specifically what was causing the acne and it started to go away.

This knowledge is powerful and I warn anyone not to assume what’s happening in their bodies.

If you do, you’re in for a long, tail-chasing experience.

If you can’t sleep, do you take any other stimulants as well?

Of course, if you can’t sleep, the final thing I want to know is if you’re taking other stimulants.

I’ve spoken to people along the way, who’ve mentioned that they thought a food or a practice like maca was keeping them up only to come to the realization that they completely or conveniently forget that they always eat half a bar of raw chocolate for desert every night.

So for Marie, or anyone else who may have issues with sleeping, be sure you’re attributing the outcome with the right cause.

Humans, myself included, do have a hard time splitting apart variables, since we’re multi-variable beings. We don’t just eat food, or don’t just exercise, or don’t just work at our jobs – we do all three and thousands more. Each one of these aspects could compound to cause your problem, or it could be one singular thing.

The process takes time, it takes patience and you have to be diligent about writing down how you felt, what you did, what you ate and in this case, how poorly you slept – every day, until you start to see patterns.

To wrap this all up…

The best advice I can give you is to listen to your body. Use the superfoods that work and scrap the superfoods and herbs that don’t.

Also, be sure to be honest to yourself about why you’re taking them as well. Do they make you feel buzzed, high or like superman/woman, or are they doing your body some therapeutic good?

I think if you can recognize these things, you’ll be able to smartly and appropriately use superfoods for your benefit and have fun while you’re at it.

I want to know your thoughts: Have you had any experiences (good or bad) with maca or other superfoods?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Wendy says:

    I’ve added about a teaspoon of maca powder to my morning smoothies and have had no ill effects.

  2. Beth says:

    I tried maca a few years ago (adding it to smoothies) and didn’t notice anything good or bad. Once I finished the bag, I didn’t bother getting more. Again, I didn’t notice anything good or bad when I stopped having small amounts of maca.

  3. Jota says:

    According to Dr. William Wong, you have to ingest 2-3 tablespoons of maca daily to have a physiological effect. Maca contains plant sterols that are precursors to testosterone and progesterone and also has DIM, which blocks and metabolizes estrogen. Dr. Wong also states that maca does not slow thyroid function as the cabbage-based DIM does.

    In my experience, when taken in a sufficient quantity, you can feel a difference. Only blood tests could confirm if and to what extent it actually works, which undoubtedly will be different from person to person and maca product to maca product.

    It’s also important to remember that sometimes taking a little bit of something is the same thing as taking none at all. A daily teaspoon of maca powder is probably not enough to elicit a physiological effect.

    • Liya says:

      Hi Jota

      How do we know which is the best Maca product to use?

      Any suggestions as I have been using Navitas raw Maca powder.



  4. Justin says:

    People who are transitioning from a SAD diet to a high RAW diet will be searching for the foods they miss and superfoods can act as a substitue for unhealthy stimulants they have quit.

    Too much of any thing is bad for you. Everything in moderation…

  5. I have a big bag of maca in my pantry, but I don’t tend to use it at all. The smell of it turns me off a little. I should probably incorporate it into my morning green smoothies though. I should perhaps increase my intake and then I will feel some effects. In general I don’t seem to notice direct links to superfoods. I just generally feel great most of the time.

  6. Steve says:

    I have a big Tablespoon helping of Maca on fruit each day and have no negative side effects. I think it definitely helps the libido in a positive way.

  7. sherry says:

    I like Maca for energy. I have no medical issues, but am an older mom and love that it supplies me the power to go the distance !
    I think it’s true that it has a tasty synergy with raw cacao.
    I do find it heating and being a “Pitta”, don’t overuse.
    I appreciate you sharing your own experience with Maca and Adrenal issues.
    A good reminder that there’s no one right way for all.

  8. Roberta McMillian says:

    I only had some once. Had about a tsp in a smoothie. I had a gut reaction and wierd emotional stuff like when I have eaten cruciferous veggies. I gave the rest away.

  9. cyntac says:

    I have a sleeping issue and never knew Maca would cause mr problems.

    I add 1 tbs to my morning smoothie 3 x a week. Sounds like that is not enough to make a difference. I also have very high cholesterol- what would be good to take for that.

    Love your website!

  10. Gen says:

    I have been taking a half teaspoon of Maca in a smoothie several times a week and have not noticed any ill effects. I love the caramel flavour it offers. A porridge made with real maca must be incredibly yummy.

    Enjoy Peru, and thanks for all your valuable insights and sharings.

  11. dee says:

    I have taken maca at different times and have always had an adverse reaction. I have had trouble sleeping even when taken in my morning smoothies. When I first tried it, the dose was too high and I started to get hot flashes and sweats. This is definetly a powerful food and despite its proclaimed benefits, it does not agree with my system.

  12. Velda says:

    I put a tablespoon of maca in my shake in the morning. I don’t notice anything, but take it because of my adrenals and I have had a hyperactive thyroid, which is under control now without medication. In fact, I bought the maca from the Renegade Health Store. The directions say 1 to 2 tablespoons per day. So I just do it in the morning. Anyway, I just believe it is good for me, but I don’t feel an affect good or bad. Thanks for a great article, Kevin.

  13. Judy says:

    Hi Kevin:
    I take MacaSure capsules from Peru. I understood Maca was an adaptogen. I used to take 2 every night….slept like a baby.

    Now I’m down to one/night. I love the restful sleep I get each night.

    I too have endured adrenal exhaustion (years ago) and still have to be sure to get enough nutrients and rest. And no, I wasn’t tested by the medical profession. I am a specialized kinesiologist and get my information this way.

    Thanks for all you do!

  14. Jacquelin says:

    wow thank you for this article Kevin! I have a terrible time sleeping and very low thyroid, and i had no idea maca could be contributing to the problem, i have been doing 2 tablespoons per day in smoothies for the last month or so and i never knew that it could impact me. I will stop, because i’m not sure why i’m taking it except that someone told me it is a good hormone replacement food so I actually thought it would help my thyroid etc. thanks for clarifying, it will save me money anyways!

  15. Catherine says:

    Great to hear a discussion about maca. I add just a teaspoon or so of maca to my smoothies. At 61, I must say that I think it has helped me balance my hormones and increased my libido. I’m due to get retested for everything, so we shall see. Do you think that it may have a cumulative effect if it is taken on a daily basis?

    As Joshua Rosenthal from Integrative Nutrition always says. “Nutrition is a fledgling science, and what works for one person may not work for another.” I’m just happy to be on this journey exploring yoga and healthy eating/lifestyle. I feel and look (if I do say so myself :)) so much better than the majority of people my age.

    For now, maca works for me.

  16. Robina says:

    I love Maca. My husband and I have at least 1 Tablespoon each day. We both use it in an elixir formula we developed to increase/maintain bone density—and our T-scores prove that our formula works (for us), though I have no proof that the maca is a key player, it is just a component.

    I also use it to maintain endocrine balance—I do have my Naturopath test me periodically to make sure I’m maintaining where I should be. So far, it is working (for me).

    My husband uses Red Maca because it is clinically proven to reduce enlarged prostate (of the three maca colors, only the red does this, the yellow & black did not clinically produce prostate results)—again, we include a lot of other relevant foods, herbs, etc. also. That formula also seems to work (for him).

    We’ve been about 85 to 100% raw since studying under Ann Wigmore in the 1980s. We toss in a little cooked food here & there—some things are just better cooked. I know many people would disagree, but some foods are clinically proven to assimilate better when slightly cooked, i.e. we can extract more of the nutrients from them when they are heated. Maybe maca is one of them. I don’t know. Kevin, you did say the Peruvians don’t eat it raw.

    This raw food movement has come such a long way over the years, and Kevin, you are a gem!

  17. Liz says:

    I used to get hormonally triggered migraines on a monthly basis – due to a drop in estrogen. I tried EVERYTHING other than prescription medication to cure them. Maca was then recommended to me because of its hormone balancing qualities… and I have been basically cured for over 2 years now. I take a TBS a day.

  18. Steve says:

    Raw vs. Gelatinized Maca…

    The link below should shed a bit more light on consuming non-raw maca.

    I take 1 tsp/day of the Navitas gelatinized maca and the package even says “6:1 ratio” compared to raw maca. So, it’s safe to consume that raw and you get more bang for the buck.

  19. Susan says:

    Hi.. i’ve used maca in orange juice prior to workouts and have noticed a difference. I feel stronger and ultimately lift more. Perhaps its mental but i find it works well for me in this regard.

  20. sharon says:

    I, like so many of the comments above) don’t feel any different whether I eat maca or not. In fact, I can’t detect any difference with any of the superfoods that I feel are a must after reading/hearing about their “amazing” qualities. It would free up my time and finances if I didn’t fall for all the hype.

    I read recipes for smoothies that are merely banana, fruits and some nut milk and I think “Oh no, that’s not enough nutrition.” I have to add chia seeds, goji berries, maca, Ho Shu Wo, Vitamineral Green, protein powder, flax seeds, probiotics, blue-green algae, CocoBiotic, cacao, and I don’t know what all to the rmix.

    If I remember correctly, I felt fine before I started adding superfoods to my diet. And I feel fine now…doesn’t seem to make a difference except on the pocketbook.

  21. Teri says:

    I started taking it last fall before I did research on it. Apparantly dosage is really imp. I was taking too much for my composition. I started it to balance my low hormones which was leading to missed female cycles and insomnia. After I lowered dosage to 1/4 teaspoon twice/day I doubled my sleep ability and have a reg cycle now. So I guess if you dont need the hormone balancing it can hamper your sleep. I notice my moods are less variable too. Again, probobly due to hormone balance.

  22. Dejana says:

    Hi Kev, thanks for the great article, as always.
    My sister normalized her periods when I told her about maca and she started taking it. First periods in years without pain.
    For me it works well also, I love the taste and the smell, I used to add it in porridge. I had very irregular periods for a few years (many health problems), and once I started taking maca they normalized. It was maca that did it. I used to take a lot more (1T/day), and now don’t take it as much, my body doesn’t need it. I have weak thyroid but didn’t notice any thyroid issues while taking it.

  23. serna says:

    Hi Kev, Thanks for this article (and all the amazing information you supply). I agree with you and feel that Superfoods must take their rightful place – too overated as magical healing foods.
    I’d like to know how you identified the cause of your acne? My son of 17 has acne badly and evryone is urging me to put him on ruacutane. I have resisted as it dries up all the mucuous in the body (brain included!) But his acne has gotten so bad and although we’re finding tissue salts helpful, would like to zone in on the cause and treat that specifically. Thanks, Serna

  24. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the great article, Kevin. This is just my opinion, & no offense is meant to anyone. I’ve tried many supplements &/or superfoods, but have always been unclear on whether they were an absolute necessity, especially if you are eating an organic whole foods diet, & already feel good. I’ve seen many people in the health field who look pretty healthy, but when I look into their protocols, they are leaving many natural foods out of their diet but taking all kinds of supplements & superfoods to compensate. This just doesn’t make sense to me. If I bought &/or took all of the things that are promoted, it would not only cost a fortune, but take a good portion of the day to get them down. While I understand that there might be a need for some supplements, especially in our modern world of agriculture, I think a lot of caution is also needed.

  25. Lynn Ranos says:

    I wanted to include spirulina in my diet, but every time I included the powder in a smoothie, or any recipe, I had a hard time swallowing the food the spirulina was in. It just felt like it got stuck in my throat. I kept trying different ways to eat the spirulina, but eventually ended up throwing the jar away….

  26. Sharon says:

    I also follow Dr. William Wong and he really seems to support Maca although he also supports progesterone cream and testosterone cream, which I will not engage in, even though I’m in menopause.
    There is a company that claims that Maca has different pheno types and men should take one type, premenopausal women another and menopausal another. It’s called
    I’m not sure if they are all marketing and hype as nobody else has ever heard of different pheno types. Their product comes in capsules and is pretty pricey.
    I have noticed that since taking Maca in their recommended dose, my TSH has gotten higher, so I’m on a Maca break now to see if the Maca was causing subclinical hypoT.

  27. Susy says:

    Two years ago I had parasites and lost a lot of weight. Knowing that Maca is an adaptogen, able to balance the endocrine system and re-build muscle tissue, I added it to a “super smoothie” that I concocted every morning either 1 hr before hiking hilly terrain or after I came home. I am aware of the “science” that says “protein within 1 hr after exercise for muscle repair/build”, however I feel that it can work both ways for me.
    I am very aware of my mind-body feelings and emotions, and could feel a lift, and yes, if I took too much, I felt a bit aggressive. But around 1-2 tsp in the morning was a fantastic booster of strength and endurance, and I firmly believe that it helped re-build my muscles both in bulk and quality, so-to-speak.
    My period also came back; with the parasites that had gone out the window too.
    I did add bee pollen to my smoothie too then, which of course is an amazing super food too, with all the imaginable nutrients available including enzymes. No wonder the queen bee is so strong and larger than the rest of the hive.
    Enjoying to eat my food I only do a smoothie once in a while, maybe once or twice per week, and sometimes there are weeks in-between. I think smoothies are a bit of a symptom of the “efficiency syndrome” of our Western world, but it can definitely be a helpful tool with illness or in a busy schedule once in a while.
    Now I have found a way to deal with both the raw issue with maca, and the taste of it, which I think is less pleasant than most other things I have tried/eat: I mix 1 tsp bee pollen and on tsp maca in 4-8 oz of room temp water, let stand for a couple of minutes or 5, stir or shake, and then drink it slowly, kind of chewing the little pollen grains. It tastes pretty good, and the bee pollen helps make the maca more digestible (some enzyme action etc going on). This is great taken in the morning of a really demanding day (physically and/or mentally), or with fatigue it works great taken early afternoon too. But if you have sleep issues, I recommend only taking this little super-cocktail in the morning.
    This was a lot, but yes, maca (and bee pollen) is great!

  28. Darlene says:

    I thought I had gone through menopause without a hitch–did not know what a hot flash was. Then, just as I approached the year anniversary, I started to feel some mild, but distressing, hot flashes. I tried gelatinized maca–the cooked kind, and it worked like a charm! I take two capsules a day, one in the morning, one in the evening, and I feel only the benefit of menopause! LOL I take the weekends off from taking it. It does work for some, for sure!

  29. Jennifer says:

    I have anxiety disorder & I noticed that maca gave me so much energy I started getting panicky. Could just be I’m used to going around half-asleep & being that wide awake freaked me out but I don’t take it often for that reason. I kept worrying it would send me into a full-blown panic attack or something.

  30. Alyssa Boyle says:

    Great article and discussion! I have been vegan and using various superfoods for 4 years now. I am not 100% raw, but try to eat 1-2 raw meals a day. I have noticed one HUGE difference in way my body feels when I eat raw cacao vs. cooked. The raw product (especially the nibs) makes me very high, almost like coffee used to before I quit that 5 years ago. I have also noticed that my tongue starts swelling up if I eat too much of it or certain nuts or fruits, for that matter. I’m guessing it is the acid? Maca seems to be OK as long as I keep it 1 teaspoon or less a day. My husband and I bought a new smoothie mix recently that contained hemp, cacao and maca and both of us noticed that our mouths and throats felt swollen and itchy for about an hour after we drank our smoothies. I’m guessing we both got took in about 1 tablespoon each. Anyone else ever experienced this?

  31. Danny says:

    Great post. Well written. Good point about what else we might have ingested during the day that also affects us. Been there and not been able to figure out which supplement is actually the culprit. Again, great post. Thanks.

  32. Simone Shaw says:

    Great info Kevin. I have some in my fridge. Tried it and haven’t noticed anything so I don’t take it anymore.

    I wanted to mention about the adrenals as this is something that I’m dealing with right now. I went to my naturopath as I knew I was Hypothyroid (google Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome) and suspected that my adrenals were shot too. He had a really simple test to confirm that. He took me into a dark room and shone a light in each eye while covering the other. If your adrenals are functioning properly then your pupil will close up tight and then slowly and evenly open as it adjusts to the light in your eye. When your adrenals aren’t functioning properly the pupil will act in an erattic manner. My puplis blew wide open (wider he says than he’s ever seen before!) and then bounced open and closed while trying to adjust to the light. So ya, my adrenals are shot. I’m taking a herbal elixir and it has helped greatly. I can tell it has just by the fact that I can deal better with stress and I don’t need a nap mid-day. But here is the intersting part. I needed to support the adrenals for about a month before I could start in on treating my low thyroid. Now that my adrenals are better I’m starting my timed release T3 therapy next week. I’ve very excited.

    The the moral of the story is that you may be able to have someone shine a light in your eye and tell you what your pupils do but I suggest you make the investment and see a naturopath or some other sort of natural healer to treat your problems!!!

  33. Tyra McMahon says:

    I cannot take maca. Feels like I drank a cup of coffee before bed if I do.

  34. Thanks for a balanced explanation of maca and superfoods. I took maca in capsule form several years ago but noticed no difference at all, so figured I wouldn’t waste my money. I’ve tried other superfoods – gogi juice being another that had no effect even after taking it for 6 months. It only depleted my savings. I did use a product that combined acai berry, gogi and mangosteen in a powder form to make a drink. That did make a difference in how I felt, but unfortunately the company disappeared. I have been taking reishi mushroom for about a year and a half in a product that I love, and I do feel better and have less health issues with it. I believe, as you, that you need to use any of these things with caution and in moderation.

  35. bitt says:

    Why is there this info out there that maca is GOOD for thyroid issues? Is that a myth? Thanks for bringing it up, I never cared too much for maca and now I’m even more suspicious.

  36. Diana says:

    Hi Kevin, my maca got tossed about a year ago, after 3-4 different attempts at using. Like you, it made me feel funny in a bad way. I used the smallest amount and it still was not good. I’m a very sensitive person, so perhaps that is why it is too strong for me.

  37. Tim says:

    Sound advice Kev. If too much superfood makes me look stoned, I’m reaching for the bong instead. Cause if I’m gonna look high then I mine as well be high.

  38. Laura says:

    I’ve been taking a bit of gelatinized maca and since then my period has been more regular. If I take bigger quantities I feel weird as well.
    I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with adrenal exhaustion.

  39. Ela Harrison says:

    Yes: the superherb that everyone says is great for thyroid/adrenal problems: ashwagandha:it seems to pound my adrenals and make me dysfunctionally anxious. I haven’t tried it for a while and now my adrenals are better, but it has irked me to see it recommended for thyroid and adrenals when I’ve found it to be counterproductive.

    I haven’t noticed a problem with maca before, but I just got some maca extreme to try, and tried a little of it neat: it was like eating a radish! Intense brassica taste…

  40. Esther says:

    I have used maca off and on for about 1 year in smoothies and I love it. I definitely feel more energetic when I take maca – not to the point of feeling buzzed or coffee wired – a nice smooth energy flow throughout the day. I am pre-menopausal and maca helped me tremendously balance my hormonal surges. As with all foods, supplements and protocols – find what resonates with you and your own changing needs. When it comes to food and nutrition – one size does not fit all!

  41. Brenda says:

    As a naturopath/energy healer I offer Macca sometimes for adrenal health. When it is the perfect food at the perfect dose it works beautifully. I use other things to build adrenals for some people as well. No one thing works for everybody as Kevin and others have said. Maca is great for stamina, endurance and sex drive and more. When it is right for you, you will get results. Another thing, some Maca on the market is not worth taking. It is just not having the energy to do the job. I am wondering if the people who commented that they felt nothing were not taking enough or was it that the Maca they were taking was too weak. Having a health practioner who can match a product to you energetically and dose it appropriately has it’s advantages.
    Thank you Kevin. Here’s to our health.

  42. LA says:

    I ONLY take Maca in the morning because like other foods (coconut, green tea, caffeine) it keeps me up at night. I get energized & increased sex drive from Maca, but I need to take 3-4 TBSP daily. But, it has not helped me in the long term increase my sex drive like I had hoped. I think my issue is related to low thyroid and low adrenals and being in peri-menopause, which maca was supposed to help. I only feel better when I take maca, it does not sustain me or heal me. I am feeling better taking some natural progesterone (bio-identical) tablets and adrenal glandulars. I just wish one day I could wean myself off them. Thanks for the article on Maca!!

  43. Heather says:

    I always appreciate your insight. I have been taking maca regularly for over a year now. After suffering for years with horrible pms symptoms I finally have relief. However, I only take a very small amount. I chose the capsule form for ease and the recommended daily dosage was two capsules. When I took that amount it caused breakthrough bleeding mid cycle, I now only take one capsule per day and it not only makes my pms symptoms almost nonexistent but makes everything very timely. I’ve never had any trouble sleeping, didn’t even know this was a possible issue.

    Thanks again for all your work,

  44. LA says:

    Also, I cannot add Maca powder to any foods because the smell and taste are awful to me. It ruins any smoothies I add it to. I add it to water or juice only. But, it can easily be hidden in smoothies. Does hide the taste better

  45. Faye says:

    Thank you for this article. It rings so true and I, like so many others, fall into the “must have” when I get all the hype on new products and have found myself wondering how I can get all this into my diet. This was a good reminder for me to slow down.
    I appreciate your articles so much, they bring so much balance to my life.

  46. zyxomma says:

    I love raw maca powder. I add it to my smoothies and some soups. I take it for the minerals. It’s now been two years since my last period and I went through the entire menopause without a single symptom! Would I have been symptom free without the maca? Who knows?

    It thickens the smoothies so much that when I was cooking a gravy and found I had neither whole wheat pastry flour nor arrowroot starch with which to thicken it (when one eats mostly raw, such things aren’t always on the shelf), I improvised and used maca. Terrific gravy, worked like a charm. Health and peace, all.

  47. Anna says:

    When I quit being on “the pill” I didn’t get my period back for 1.5 years. I could really feel that it was something wrong with my hormones. A month or so before I got my period back I started to take maca 2 table spoons a day and a few weeks after that I got my period back, I felt better emotionally as well. I didn’t do any tests or anything but for me I think it really helped my hormones to get back on track.

    Regards, anna

  48. Fran says:

    “I’ve seen people drink cup after cup of superfood elixirs at parties and events and frankly, they look like they’re smoked a big old joint or ripped a few lines of blow.”

    HA! love that and so true!!

    GREAT article, Maca makes me feel weird too. Although I have found after not using it for 2 years, I can now have a small bit every now and again. When I first tried it I used to hate the smell and taste.. and now I quite like it.

    I think this message of superfoods in moderation is an important one, I forget this sometime so thank you for your article.


  49. Kuru says:

    Timely article, Kevin. I’ve just restarted taking Maca after being off it for a few months, and feel so strong as a result. Here is a comment about taking a break from it:

    4. Take a break from Maca every once in a while. We usually take one day off per week. Some others like to take 5 days off in a row per month. The purpose of this is to give your body a chance to stabilize its hormones without the influence of the Maca. Plus, you’ll find that after taking a break, you’ll feel the effects of Maca to be stronger.

    Also, it’s important to remember one size does NOT fit all when considering dosage. What’s good for someone who weighs 100 would be different for someone who weighs 200. I’m 125 and take about a teaspoon in a smoothy, and am so glad to be back on it!

  50. Kveta says:

    We love raw maca powder. We add 1 tsp. to our smoothies every morning.We are 72 and 70 years old. it increse our libido. When my husband skiped maca for few days it was notisable !!! He use to take some other natural herbs for incresing libido but it did not work like maca.

  51. Heidi says:

    I’ve tried maca but never on a consistent basis. I never felt any negative or positive effects, but I probably didn’t take enough of it or didn’t take it often enough to notice any physiological effects.

  52. Sharon says:

    Totally agree with Brenda! There’s a lot of junk maca on the market. A good maca can heal the adrenals with even a low quantity. Heal the adrenals and you help the thyroid but test, test, test!

    I enjoy maca now and again but not every day. It’s a bit too potent for a single gal!

  53. Nicole says:

    Thank you for this article. I sometimes (rare) put some Maca together with Kakao in a protein-smoothie – I feel very enlightend afterwards 🙂

  54. Norka says:

    The only so called superfood I consume every day is bee pollen. I always add 1 teaspoon (each) into my green smoothie which gives me plenty of energy. If I eat raw chocolate in any form it really keeps me up, so I try to use it when I need its’ effect. Other superfoods I consume occasionaly. But I also think we have some local superfoods here in and around Hungary. At winter time we almost daily consume buckthorn, rosehip and other similar things supporting our immune system.

    Great article! Thank You for the information!

  55. Cassandra says:

    I think maca is great, it is definitely true though that you should take a little time off from it every couple of weeks or so to let your body reset. Although it’s a member of the cruciferous family, it is considered to be adaptogenic. It is supposed to, if taken in the right amounts and by individuals who tolerate it well, regulate the thyroid whether it’s overactive or underactive.

    I feel great when I take it, as long as I don’t take too much at a time, and take enough to notice it. I’m 25 and weigh about 125 lbs and 2 tbs of powder gives me quite a noticeable effect, any more than that is too much, and just over 1 tbs seems to be just right for me. I have also used a liquid form of it called MacaMagic, and it’s not quite as potent as the powder but it does taste better. I just have to take 3+ droppersfull to notice it. I have been symptomatic of thyroid issues for years now, with normal test results every time (Even though it runs heavily in my family doctors refuse to diagnose me), and maca always seems to make me feel better!

    The powdered brand I use is by Earth Circle Organics, and it works.

  56. Allison says:

    Kevin, thanks for the info on Maca. I am 49 yrs.old and been on a raw/vegan diet for 2 yrs. First time I tried Maca…felt too spacey. And mixed with raw cacao… forget it! Couldn’t sleep and it was like I was hooked up to a caffeine machine! Boy, was I glad to finally come off of it.
    Just recently, tired Maca again for hormone imbalances and no problems! Not wired, not spacey, and seems to be helping with balancing my hormones so far. Note, I haven’t been tested, just going by how I feel now.
    Allison Reece
    Asheville, NC

  57. Kosotie says:

    Thanks Kev, good article.

    I have been using Maca (yellow) before, taking 1 tsp daily, with no effect at all. (But I LOVE the taste and smell!) I tried it to see if the claims for libido effect was true, but did not notice any difference. Now I take 1 tbs daily and no effect at all. Sleep like a baby with or without it.
    Been trying many different superfoods with no change at all. What do make a difference is getting more (proper sleep cycles) sleep is the only thing I have felt makes a difference.

    Keep up the good work!

  58. Mat says:

    When i take Maca 3 teaspoons per day or 4 it works like viagra for me!

    I also trained a friend to reverse Hypothyroidism, we used this in a detailed specific protocol designed for this persons unique individuality, we also used many other natural products such as a mixture of 12 sea vegetables, a vegan diet, no cabbage or large amounts of cruciferous vegetables, detoxification and herbal supplements in reasonable amounts daily.

    The lady also reversed fibromyalgia from following my program, these are her words and not mine and are confirmed by medical consultants and her medical doctor, she also came off thyroid medication thyroxine on the 1st day of beginning the program, she weighed 244 pounds upon beginning and by the end of a the second month she lost 43 pounds, 2 months later 2 blood tests 3 weeks apart confirmed regulated thyroid hormone levels within normal range, body fat had dropped significantly but not continuously too much to suggest an overactive thyroid.

    Previously, blood tests 12 years consecutively up to that stage all confirmed an under-active hypothyroid condition and suggested a lifetime of medication ahead-ACCORDING TO HER GP’S UNDESTANDING.

    However after the program was adhered to well her medical doctor also confirmed medication was no longer required and in addition out of 35 symptoms 33 had completely been retracted from her long list of health issues. She also came of 6 different types of medication.

    As you can imagine her M.D wasn’t too impressed with me as she could no longer distribute all this medication for the pharmaceutical companies she was working for.

    Anybody interested in reviewing the case study including kevin i would be more than happy to forward the full write up on to you, before and after pictures and blood tests available and the process was video documented just as have been my other 8 case studies for reversal of chronic degenerative conditions.

    This information of course is not to encourage people to treat conditions unless you are qualified or have the correct level of understanding and education to do so.

    I have studied and practiced natural medicine, microbiology, clinical and orthomolecular nutrition for 10 years and am completing a doctorate in the science of natural medicine.

    Kindest regards with love, gratitude and respect.

    • AGnes says:

      I would really love to know about the effects of Maca on thyroid. I ws just diagnosed with mildly sluggish thyroids. I do not want to take medicine. I tried raw maca powder (1 tbsp a day). It gave me lots of energy, but after a while I felt like I was bloated and gianing weigt so I stopped. Maybe raw isn’t good for hypothyroid? Maybe I was using too much? SHoudl I try gelatinized? I really would like to know if it helped anyone’s thyroidism.

  59. Linda says:

    Great article. Yeah, superfoods should be taken carefully. Thanks for posting.

  60. Tricia says:

    I use about a teaspoon a day of Macaforce in my Green elixir each morning and have been doing so for several months now. In the beginning I noticed that it did help my energy and mood in the morning. Now that has been constant for a while and I feel good about it. I don’t take it before bed though. Just in the morning.

  61. Wanda says:

    Thank you so much for addressing the Maca issue, Kevin. I had wondered why I did not do well while taking Maca several years ago, and now, when you mentioned that Maca is from the cruciferous family, I know why. I happen to be sensitive to most foods from that family, especially if I try to use them regularly. Thanks a million.

    Thanks, also, for all the great advice you always have for us. And, I like that you are so honest in your assessment of a certain herb or supplement… or superfood!


  62. Si;
    my wife has been diagnosed with nodules on her throyd, and she eats cruceferous veggies like they were goin out of style, could tis be the problem, or just low iodine? tanks and God bless…

  63. David Wolfe made some sort of super everything raw cacao macca warm tea for a lunch. it looked so awful but tasted so nice. No idea how much was in there but it was a lovely warming drink, just very mildly stimulating like the after meal coffee replacement i think it was meant to be. So I nearly bought a whole bag of the stuff but then decided to let it be as I didn’t want to go home with an expensive drink ingredient I couldn’t use (he’s not really a recipe sort of guy!)

  64. Sara says:

    There is a big difference between extracts and such and actual foods. Do you have scientific evidence to support your cruciferous vegetable bashing? I have been told by an extremely knowledgable doctor to eat as much cruciferous vegetables as possible [ the actual vegetable] as an anti- cancer protocol. There are scientific studies showing the anti-cancer effects from the ITCs produced when the cell walls of cruciferous vegetables are broken/cut.

  65. Michael D. says:

    Great points in the post and even greater and richer conversation on the comment board. Your point of portion control I think it key to understanding “the superfood phenomenon”. Consuming the right balance of maca is important for your overall health and wellbeing. Thanks again


  66. Steph says:

    I was using Maca regularly a few months ago. I never had any ill side effects, but my libido def. picked up for sure. I loved it in smoothies but only if I disguised the taste with Cocoa.

  67. Renee says:

    I have used maca powder for about 2 years now for some very problematic menopausal symptoms and the results are absolutely irrefutable (symptoms return whenever I stop the maca for a week or more) and the side benefit has been a definite return of libido. It has also helped my husband’s libido and energy levels. I think your advice about individual differences is so important and people need to realize foods and supplements should not be taken just because they have benefits to offer. You need to take them for specific benefits that you are in need of, and don’t bash the food/supplement just because it didn’t work for you.

  68. Donna says:

    As is evident from a number of comments, Maca is estrogenic. Therefore, it is not something one should take if you have, for e.g., breast cancer……..! Same goes for red clover and soy.

  69. dennis says:

    about cruciferous vegetables, you cant consume them raw. you have to lightly cook or steam them before consuming. if you eat them raw, you can problems for your thyroid.

  70. Nan says:

    It’s the only thing that helped my menopause symptoms. And, have to take the righ dose. I take the Femmenessence type–only one that’s standardized enough to show potency.

  71. Emilie123 says:

    Thank you for this revealing article!
    It was just what I need to see regarding Maca.

  72. Liya says:

    Hello Kevin from Liya

    I live my life with Hashimoto thyroid disease as well as adrenal problems
    I bought organic raw Maca from a health food store since it indicated that it will help my low energy levels and that it supports hormonal health etc.

    I started out with half a teaspoon of Maca per day about a week ago.
    At first I felt energized then started to feel tired – is this part of a detox?
    Should I perhaps use a quarter of a teaspoon per day rather than a half?
    Since I now realize that Maca is a cruciferous vegetable does it mean I need to stop using it or would it be better for me to cook the raw Maca with my porridge or add it to my muffin mixture that I either bake in the oven for 12 minutes or cook in the microwave for 1 minute.

    Thanks for any advice

  73. Shiree says:

    HI I have been exercise lately and not really eating enough!!! And finding it hard to shift the last 7 kg So i started yesterday with maca powder in my morning shake i was so tired didnt really think much of it had it again today and i am ready for bed i have only been awake 4 hrs is this normal? is it trying to fix my hormones? Should i stop or will this past? I am a mum of 4 kids so I am quite busy but never this tired

  74. KT says:

    Hi Thank you for all of your insights. I was so excited to give this a try after reading all the hype about it. I normally don’t comment on anything but this “superfood” was not so super for me. The Maca left me VERY sleepy. I couldn’t go for a run last night because I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work at about 8:30. I woke up 12 hours later and haven’t been able to get out of this fog. I bought it in its raw form and felt very crampy and bloated. After researching I read that it needs to be cooked. After I tried cooking it, it just made me sleepy. This obviously doesn’t work for me. Each serving was 2 teaspoons for me. This was plenty to experience how this food works for me. I wish I was one of the people saying that it gave me more energy than ever. I won’t be using Maca ever again. Again too much hype for something that doesn’t work for everyone.

  75. CDC says:

    I tried maca for regulating my hormones for fertility, decrease in PMS, and decrease in cramps. I have awful PMS and cramps, and unexplained infertility.

    I took low dose of powder in capsules for 2-3 weeks, by the end I was taking the max dosage on the bottle- was slightly irritable then had bad PMS during those weeks. I figured it was just the PMS and I hadn’t been taking it long enough to affect that yet.

    Then I switched to organic loose powder, 4g in the morning. (not gelatinized). Over the next 2 weeks I quickly descended into complete insanity. I had unbelievable rage, I couldn’t think (which is why it took so long to figure out it was the maca – the only supplement I had added, the only change I had made); cycled with severe depression – I was raging and crying, over and over. For nothing.

    I stopped taking it 6 days ago and it’s finally all wearing off. Took 3 days to get about 75% improvement, then continued to improve slowly from there.

    WHAT HAPPENED?! Why did this affect me so severely???

    I have been taking prescribed adderall for 3 months prior to trying the maca. Would that have any interaction? I did check that before trying the maca, but no interactions came up.

    Will never try it again, I have never been so close to a complete reality break as this pushed me to.

  76. Tarina says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m new to Maca, like 4 days new, been adding 1 heaped teaspoon to my morning protein shakes for 4 days & not untill tday that I googled “effects of Maca ” as I noticed so many weird changes in myself… just in 4days!!
    I’ve had insomnia everynight, been stressy, my forehead has broken out in pimples ( have not had a pimple on my head for 10yrs) & right now can feel my heart beating !!! Thank God for the Internet & people like you who fill us in!! The back of my maca powder packet says 1 to 5 Tab spoons twice a day!!! Omg.. 1 only took 1 teasp once a day, but no warning on the packet whatsoever!! Anyway…. I’m still keen to take but will Now only put 1/4 of a teas in my shake & c how I go from there. Thanks So much for your sharing your wise info.????xx

  77. sarah says:

    Another posibility could be that maca is a strong stimulant that raises adrenaline. It’s plain to see that any stimulant before bedtime would make it difficult to sleep. You wouldn’t have coffe in the evening now would you? Solution: Try consuming it A.M so it wears off come evening instead of automatically assuming that it isn’t for you!

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