Maca (botanical name Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian herb which has generated a lot of interest because of it claims to enhance sex drive and improve sexual virility, fertility, energy and mental clarity.
(We says “herb,” but in fact it is a root, similar to a radish, which grows at high altitude in the South American Andes where few other foods grow and historically was a staple of the local diet.)
In Peru it has been used for thousands of years – since the Incas – for wide nutritional benefits including improved stamina, depression relief, and for enhancing memory and immunity.
Maca is not approved under the Australian Therapeutics Goods Act. Herbal treatments for erectile dysfunction made with approved ingredients include Herbal Ignite, which is a listed medicine in Australia.
Maca’s Superfood Status
In recent times claims have been made for its nutritional value as a “Superfood” because the root or tuber is high in protein, minerals and vitamins including B12, and over 55 different active phytochemicals including hormonal precursors and sterols.
Its reputation is based on anecdotal evidence backed by some clinical trials, which have shown it may improve semen quality, relieve symptoms of menopause, and reduce enlarged prostates.
A 12-week double blind placebo-controlled 2002 study with men aged 21 to 56 showed maca improved sexual desire after 8 to 12 weeks of treatment, without affecting testosterone levels and independent of emotional factors like depression.
Maca Not Approved in Australia
Maca is not approved as a listed medicine under the Therapeutic Goods Act and so cannot be legally sold as a dietary supplement in Australia. Product bought in from overseas may be destroyed by Customs as a disallowed herb.
Herbal Ignite is a listed medicine for treatment of erectile dysfunction under TGA protocols, containing herbs all approved for use.