Considered trying maca, a cruciferous vegetable from Peru, for your PCOS symptoms? Find out the evidence for maca for PCOS and whether it is worth supplementing with.
What is PCOS?
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common endocrine condition that affects 1 in 10 people with ovaries in the UK. It is often linked with symptoms like irregular periods, excessive hair growth, fertility issues, insulin resistance and inflammation.
Symptoms vary from person to person and some people may even be asymptomatic. PCOS looks different for everyone which may explain why it takes on average over two years to be diagnosed.
Management of PCOS symptoms includes medication and supplements, sleep and stress management, nutrition interventions and movement.
What is maca?
Maca root is a cruciferous vegetable grown in the Andes mountains. It is a staple in Peruvian cooking. It has an earthy, nutty and butterscotch flavour and is in the same family as cauliflower, kale, broccoli and cabbage.
The plant is able to grow in harsh conditions and high altitudes. The root grows below ground and can be dried and processed into a powder or the liquid extract can be made into a capsule for supplementary use.
Like ashwagandha, maca is considered an adaptogenic herb. The theory behind adaptogens is that they restore hormonal balance across the body and are commonly used in traditional medicine. Maca is rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and carbohydrates.
Is there evidence maca can work for PCOS?
Unfortunately, there are no specific studies investigating the impact of maca on PCOS symptoms as of yet.
In rodent studies, maca powder significantly improved LH and FSH levels suggesting links to improved fertility. A randomised control trial in Hong Kong found that maca supplementation for 12 weeks did not improve estradiol, FSH, TSH, SHBG, glucose, lipid profiles and serum cytokines although, improvements in blood pressure and depression scores were seen in postmenopausal women.
How much maca should I take for PCOS?
As we have no research on maca for PCOS or clear information on toxicity so recommended dosages can’t be clearly distinguished. But, maca is generally considered safe as long as you don’t take more than 3g a day for 4 months.
Is maca safe for pregnancy?
It is important to note that there is little to no information of maca in pregnancy or toxicity rates so speak with your doctor or healthcare professional before trying maca powder.