Can taking maca boost your libido?

I asked my therapist friend and blogger Nicole Anderson to write a post about libido, as it’s one area I’m focusing on for this blog. Here are her views on the physical causes for low libido, and how using maca root can help.

By Nicole Anderson

Low libido is one of the most common sexual problems in women, with stress and busy lifestyles getting much of the blame.

Magazine articles generally recommend taking candlelit bubble baths, reading erotic fiction and wearing saucy underwear to get back in the mood.

However, I totally agree with orgasm guru Marrena Lindberg, who says that bubble baths will do diddly squat if the root of the problem is a physical imbalance related to brain chemistry or hormones.

Lindberg’s book The Orgasmic Diet is the first approach that uses exercise and nutrition to address anorgasmia and low libido in women. She advocates taking daily mega-doses of fish oil plus a small amount of dark chocolate – but if this doesn’t appeal to you, maca root could be worth a try.

Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon – also known as “Nature’s Viagra”- grows high in the Andes and was for thousands of years thought of by the Indians of South American as a sacred plant. The turnip-shaped tuber is highly nutritious, containing an array of minerals, fatty acids, essential amino acids and proteins, including a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which supposedly has aphrodisiac properties.

Like ginseng, maca is an adaptogen – in other words, a plant substance that is able to balance and normalise many of the body’s systems.

The scientist responsible for much of the current knowledge of maca is Dr Gloria Chacon de Popivici, a biologist trained at the University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru. Dr Chacon says that where HRT works by replacing hormones, maca works by promoting optimal functioning of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, thereby improving the functioning of the whole endocrine system. Maca contains no plant hormones, but its action relies on plant sterols, which act as chemical triggers to help the body produce a higher level of hormones.

In men, maca is said to enhance sexual performance and endurance as well as treat problems such as impotence and low sperm count and motility, while in women, maca is said to promote healthy estrogen and progesterone levels.

I suspect that many cases of low libido in women are a result of either adrenal fatigue or hormonal decline due to ageing, or a combination of both.

In The Hurried Woman Syndrome, gynaecologist Brent W Bost says that modern women are simply trying to accomplish too many things in too short a space of time. He wrote the book after he noticed that many of his patients were complaining of the same four symptoms: low mood, fatigue, weight gain around the middle and low libido.

If you are having a problem with your libido, by all means give maca a try. However, you’ve got to treat the problem holistically, rather than just looking for a boost or a quick fix.

Good nutrition is also key – if you suspect you may be intolerant to wheat or dairy, try cutting them out and please make sure you eat a good breakfast and don’t skip meals. Eliminate libido killers such as caffeine, sugar and soy from your diet and keep your alcohol consumption moderate.

In South America, maca is eaten fresh, baked and added to drinks. I bought mine from a website called – they don’t sell it in tablet form but by the bag.

This works out considerably cheaper than buying it in tablet form. The website also says the reason they sell it this way is that maca should actually be integrated into the diet and enjoyed as a food, rather than taken as a supplement.

Maca looks and smells a bit like Horlicks but the taste is slightly bitter. You can always sweeten whatever you’re adding it to with a little honey if you don’t like the bitter taste.

I’ve been adding mine to smoothies and yoghurt, and now that it’s winter, I’m going to be adding mine to soups and stews. You can also find all sorts of recipes on the Internet – maca hot chocolate, maca fudge, maca peanut butter balls. In some regions of Peru apparently, maca is even made into jams and puddings.

Bon appétit!

Other natural libido boosters:

  1. Damiana herb. A friend of mine swears by this – she says it makes her clitoris more sensitive and makes her feel really rampant. She told me she always takes three tablets a day for three days in preparation for a naughty weekend. Marrena Lindberg also recommends damiana in her book The Orgasmic Diet.
  2. Pomegranate. Recent clinical trials have found that pomegranate juice is effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure and treating prostate cancer. Researchers at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex recently uncovered an unexpected health benefit during a study – pomegranate juice also helps increase sex drive in men and women. Check out Secret Ceres – a “magic stick” that helps boost libido and has pomegranate as one of its key ingredients.
  3. Natural progesterone. If you have a few days of light spotting before your period is due, or tail end brown bleeding after your period, you could have low progesterone. Progesterone is absolutely critical for female libido and fertility. You can take it in natural form as a cream.

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