Peru Miracle Maca Said to Boost Sex Drive

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By Jude Webber
Reuters
LIMA, Peru (Aug. 15, 2001)

Top News Story on AOL's Homepage on August 15, 2001

It looks like a tiny brown turnip, has a strong smell and what some consider a disgusting taste, but Peru's ''miracle'' maca can boost your sex drive by up to 200 percent, according to a study presented on Wednesday.

The powerful plant, cultivated for more than two millennia in the harsh high Andes at altitudes of more than 13,200 feet, is the basis of a nutritional supplement often dubbed Peruvian ginseng which, the study found, can also cut stress, boost energy and well-being and increase fertility.

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Scientist Gustavo Gonzales of Peru's Cayetano Heredia University, who led what the scientists say is the world's first study into maca's effect on humans, told a news conference the nine-month trial involving 12 volunteer men pointed to an 180-200 percent lift in libido and up to a doubling of sperm production.

The trials used a concentrated form of maca developed by Universidad Agraria la Molina called "gelatinized maca" which is a proprietary extruded derivative process to remove the benign starch content in order to multiply the active compounds¹.

¹Gelatinized maca is distributed under the brand name MacaSource® with the exception of maca's native Peru. In Peru it is sold under the brand name MacaSol®.

raw maca

The study -- using the high-tech maca pill developed by La Molina National Agrarian University -- also found maca reduced blood pressure and had no adverse effect on the heart.

''It's a miracle (product),'' said Fernando Cabieses, a professor and authority on maca, a plant he said was a nutritional gem for people of all ages.

The studies marked the completion of Phase I trials and results have been subjected to independent review and confirmation, factors which may influence the degree to which the research is accepted by other scientists. Experts said the data so far was promising.

''According to reports from the international medical community, the plant definitely has energy-giving properties, boosts physical and sexual performance ... Preliminary reports are promising,'' Julio Castro, dean of Peru's College of Doctors told, Reuters. He said, however, fuller studies were necessary.


For Peru -- which gave the world the malaria treatment quinine -- maca is a unique and little-touted treasure that could prove a big moneyspinner in a growing world trend for natural remedies and alternative medicines.

Peruvians consume maca in powder or tablet form. It is also starting to be exported, notably to eastern Europe, some of the more developed countries in Asia, and in the United States.

Jose Luis Silva, deputy general manager of Hersil, said that Peru's maca exports were currently worth some $2 million to $3 million while Korea's exports of red ginseng were worth $2 billion.

FAST FOOD FOR LACKLUSTER LIBIDOS

According to Spanish chroniclers, Inca warriors took maca to prime themselves for their expansionary missions and athletes, particularly those in endurance sports, have long sung the praises of the native Peruvian plant.

A relative of turnips, mustard and cabbage, maca -- lepidium meyenii or lepidium peruvianum in Latin -- is rich in phosphorus, calcium, protein, iron, natural fiber and mineral salts, according to La Molina National Agrarian University.

The ''blind'' clinical trial -- in which some men were fed dummy pills (placebos) and others maca -- measured hormone levels and other physical indicators and used a series of existing psychological tests to determine the plant's properties. No side effects were seen, Gonzales said.

He said maca produced an increase in sex drive within two weeks. Although it also appeared to boost the production and movement of sperm, Gonzales said more research was needed as the test had been restricted to a very small sample.

Gonzales said initial findings had been presented to a meeting of Latin American reproductive investigators in May and further trials -- including on women -- were in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, lackluster lovers should not rush to throw away their Viagra. Maca may boost desire but does not share the wonder drug's erection-enhancing properties, Cabieses said.


Reuters 18:49 08-15-01


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