Maca For Menopause

For many, menopause is associated with a long list of unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.1 Due to a distinct lack of established therapies, people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are increasingly turning to maca as a herbal remedy to alleviate these symptoms.2

Despite its status as a go-to prescription for many practitioners of alternative medicine, there is little scientific evidence to support the claims that maca can help to overcome hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and other ailments. However, some studies suggest that maca may help to ameliorate sexual dysfunction in people AFAB after menopause3, as well as supporting hormonal balance.2

Even though it is uncertain if maca can specifically benefit those experiencing symptoms of menopause, it is a nutrient-rich food that makes a beneficial addition to the diet. In this article, we explore its nutritional contents and unique health-boosting potential.


Maca root originates from South America, in the Central Andes of Peru – the maca plant withstands forceful winds and low temperatures in the local harsh climate.4 The edible part of the maca plant is the root (sometimes called the hypocotyl).4 There are several varieties of maca, with a range of nutritional profiles. The flesh inside the maca root is white or cream/yellow5, but the outer skin can be in a range of up to 13 colours.4 The most common colours of maca are yellow (47.8%), red (16.5%), and black (4.2%), but cream and purple varieties also exist.5 The colour of the outer skin depends on the content of compounds such as carotenoids and anthocyanins.4

About Maca

Health benefits of maca 

Maca has been cultivated by the indigenous Andean people for thousands of years and has been used both as a staple food and a medicine for various ailments.4 Native Andeans use maca root as a remedy for stress and fatigue, pain relief for joints, a cure for anaemia, and a fertility enhancer, among many other uses.4

In the late 1990s, maca became popular as a herbal medicine in China. It has been marketed as a cure for many conditions, such as erectile dysfunction and the symptoms of menopause.4 Despite its wide array of claimed health benefits, scientific studies on the health benefits of maca are scarce, and often of poor reliability.4

Some studies show that maca may benefit health in several different ways, including its protective effects against:5

  • Memory impairment
  • Depression
  • Bone weakness
  • Sunburn (also known as UV irradiation)5

Moreover, due to its nutrient-rich composition, maca root can be a healthy addition to supplement a healthy diet.  

Nutrients we can get from maca 

The macronutrient content of maca is similar to those of other carbohydrate-rich staples more common in the global West, such as rice and wheat.5

Maca contains 59% carbohydrates, 10-16% proteins, and 2.2% lipids, as well as several essential amino acids, fatty acids, sterols, and alkaloids.4 Some minerals found in maca root include calcium, copper, and iron.4

There are some compounds that are uniquely found in maca root; these include: Lepidiline A, B, C and D, macamides, and macahydantoins). However, their specific bioactive effects are still unknown, and further studies are needed to determine how these compounds might benefit health.4

Although maca is native to the Andes, it has also been introduced in the Yunnan province in China for a larger-scale production to meet the high demand for maca. The nutritional composition of the maca root is affected by the cultivation methods of the plant, for example, the use of pesticides and additives in the soil, the climate, as well as the variety of the maca plant. Therefore, nutritional benefits may vary between maca root products of different origins.4

How to use maca

Maca root is a daily staple for the native Andean population, where the root grows naturally. The Andean natives believe that fresh, uncooked maca may be harmful to health, and advise that it should only be consumed in a cooked or dehydrated form.4 Maca is traditionally baked, boiled into a porridge, or used to brew a sweet fermented drink; the native population also uses it in jams, alcoholic cocktails, and empanadas.4 It is a versatile food due to its mild, malty taste. 

Maca is also available in more instant forms, such as pills and capsules, as well as powder and extracts that can be easily sprinkled and drizzled onto meals. Maca is also available in the form of flour, which can be used to prepare patties and empanadas.4

To reap the health benefits of maca, ensure that you purchase high-quality products without harmful additives. Ensure that you read leaflets that come with any maca supplements carefully to determine an appropriate dosage for you. 

How does it feel after taking maca

Maca is a carbohydrate- and protein-rich food, which can be a filling addition to your meals. The nutritional benefits associated with maca are not experienced immediately after your first taste – to reap the health benefits, consume appropriate amounts of maca regularly as part of a balanced diet.

It has been shown that in the long-run, regular consumption of maca can boost your health by combating memory impairment and depression,6 among many other benefits. 

Maca for menopause

Menopause is the cessation of menstrual cycles (periods); more specifically, menopause is 12 months after a person's AFAB’s last period. Menopause happens naturally with age (usually 40-50 years of age), as the ovaries stop producing the hormones responsible for monthly periods.1 However, menopause may also be triggered by the surgical removal of ovaries (a procedure known as an oophorectomy, which may be performed when a patient has ovarian cancer).1

The cessation of periods is not the only sign of menopause – many people AFAB  going through the menopause (or in the months leading up to menopause – “perimenopausal”) may also experience other unpleasant symptoms. Menopause can be accompanied by uncomfortable sensations of temperature (hot flashes, chills, night sweats), as well as emotional distress, lower energy, tender breasts, and vaginal dryness.1 Vaginal dryness may also negatively affect sexual function for some, by lowering the libido (the desire to have sex) and causing bleeding or pain during intercourse.1 People AFAB who have gone through menopause (postmenopausal) are more susceptible to certain conditions, such as osteoporosis6 – a condition in which the bones become more brittle over time. They may also experience weight gain as their metabolism slows down, and may find themselves needing to consume fewer calories just to maintain their weight.1

It is expected that by 2030, there will be 1.2 billion postmenopausal people AFABin the world2 – for many of them, menopause will be accompanied by several unpleasant symptoms. Despite the fact that so many people experience the burden of these symptoms, which can impact their lives personally and sometimes professionally, there are few established medications to treat the symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of the few treatments available to alleviate the symptoms associated with menopause; unfortunately, HRT has been linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer.2 Due to this lack of options, many people AFAB look towards herbal remedies to relieve their symptoms. Supplementation with maca is a treatment for menopausal symptoms recommended by many practitioners of alternative medicine. 

Benefits of maca for menopause

Although many practitioners of alternative medicine vouch for maca’s ability to alleviate menopausal symptoms - including hot flashes, night sweats, depression, and vaginal dryness - there are few high-quality studies to support these claims.4

The results of a recent animal study suggest that consuming maca may help to maintain a normal balance of hormones (including follicle-stimulating hormone, FSH, which is a hormone involved in maintaining the function of a person AFAB’s reproductive system).2 However, this study used rats that have had their ovaries removed as a model for postmenopausal people AFAB – therefore, it is unclear if these findings are equally applicable to humans.

It has been found that consuming maca root may help to alleviate sexual dysfunction3 – however, the study used a relatively small sample of people AFAB, and it is uncertain if it would also apply in a larger population. 

What are the side effects?

Maca is a safe food to consume, with no side effects reported in any scientific investigations. However, it is important to consider that maca products (powders, pills, etc.) may contain additive substances that may be harmful if taken in large amounts.4 Always read the leaflet that comes with the natural supplements you take to check the appropriate dosage. 

Best time to take maca

Based on some literature reviews, it is recommended to divide your daily intake of maca into 2-3 portions per day.5 This can help to ensure the optimal absorption of nutrients. 

How much to take for menopause

Natives to the Andean region where maca naturally grows consume an average of over 100 grams of the root per person daily.4 However, it is important to consider that the maca products that may be available locally to you may be adulterated (or, for example, grown in the presence of large amounts of harsh pesticides).4 It may be safe to eat large quantities of maca occasionally, but ensure that you are using a high-quality product, as well as cooking it the correct way.

For nutritional supplementation, rather than incorporating maca root as part of your meal, it is recommended to consume between 2-10 grams across 2-3 doses per day.5


Although there is little evidence to support maca’s ability to ease symptoms associated with menopause, it is a nutrient-rich food that is easy to incorporate into the diet. Ensure that you cook the maca root before eating it, and pay attention to dosages and additives when taking maca supplements.  


  1. Mayo Clinic. Menopause. [Internet] [Cited 2022 December 21]. Available from:
  2. Zhang Y, Yu L, Jin W, Ao M. Effect of ethanolic extract of Lepidium meyenii Walp on serum hormone levels in ovariectomized rats. 2014 Jul;46(4): 416-419. Available from:
  3. Dording CM, Schettler PJ, Dalton ED, Parkin SR, Walker RSW, Fehling KB, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Ediv Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015 Apr 14;2015:949036. Available from :
  4. Beharry S, Heinrich M. Is the hype around the reproductive health claims of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) justified? J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Jan 30;211:126-170. Available from:
  5. Bower-Cargill C, Yarandi N, Petroczi A. A systematic review of the versatile effects of the Peruvian Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii) on sexual dysfunction, menopausal symptoms and related conditions. Phytomedicine Plus. 2022 Aug 02; 100326. Available from:
  6. Mayo Clinic. Osteoporosis. [Internet]. [Cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Katarzyna Drzewinska

Master of Biology, Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, University of Leeds

Katarzyna is a graduate of the MBiol, BSc Biochemistry (International) programme from the University of Leeds, UK. Her previous laboratory research projects have focussed on environmental microplastics and natural product discovery (antibiotics), but she has found her true passion in medical writing - particularly making scientific literature accessible for the general reader.

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