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Mood Regulation

Studying maca primarily for its impact on mood is limited. However, several studies report mood outcomes as a secondary measure of the research aim.

 

Animal Studies

 

One animal study looked at yellow, black, and red maca for learning and depression in ovariectomized rats. All three phenotypes demonstrated antidepressant effects, while black maca provided the most beneficial effects on latent learning, particularly on trained mice. However, all phenotypes were effective for trained and non-trained mice (p<0.05) (1). Another study used red maca in males and ovariectomized rats. Red maca had anti-depressive application in male rats (dose of 0.5 and 1.0g/kg body weight) (2).

 

Human Studies

 

In human studies, general improvements in mood have been cited. One 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared the efficacy of black and red maca in 175 participants living in different locations in Peru. Eighty percent (80%) of all participants taking the red maca reported increased mood and 90% reported increased energy, faring better than those in the black maca group. Additionally, higher quality of life was reported in both red and black maca groups (p<0.05) (3).

 

Another 12-week, randomized, single-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study included an unspecified color of maca taken for six weeks at a dose of 3.3 grams per day by postmenopausal women (ages 46-59). The benefits included: (4)

  • 10.8% increase in general well-being (p<0.05)

  • 13.5% increase in mental health (p<0.05)

  • 16.4% increase in social functioning (p<0.05)

  • 13% increase in mental component score (p<0.05)

  • 30% reduction of menopausal symptoms measured by the Greene Climacteric Scale, including a reduction in anxiety (p=0.02) and depression (p<0.01).

 

A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group dose-finding pilot study lasting 12 weeks was conducted using an unspecified color of maca at 1.5 g/day (low dose) or 3.0 g/day (high dose) to men and women diagnosed with major depressive disorder and taking an antidepressant. While the main aim of the study was to explore the impact maca would have on sexual dysfunction that is a result of the use of antidepressants, the study reported a small but significant decrease in depressive symptoms (p=0.047) when taking the high dose (5).

 

In a pilot study conducted by Meissner et al. using a proprietary formulation of Lepidium peruvianum, commercially known as Maca-GO, a significant reduction in menopausal symptoms, including depression (p<0.05) and nervousness (p<0.05) was observed in perimenopausal women after two months of use of Maca-GO (6). Using the same formulation, postmenopausal women also experienced the same significant reductions in depression and nervousness in two months of use (7–9). 

 

Case Reports

 

Two case reports demonstrated improved moods using a proprietary formulation of Lepidium peruvianum, commercially known as MacaHarmony. The first is a 39-year-old woman presenting with mood changes before the menstrual cycle. While she experienced many improvements associated with the menstrual cycle, balanced moods were one of the benefits, achieving this within three months of use (10). The second was a 30-year-old woman with intense psychiatric symptoms associated with a diagnosis of PMDD, which included depression, negative, intrusive thoughts, irritability, and lack of concentration. She experienced resolution of the extreme symptoms within three months of using MacaHarmony, though it was also noted that she was taking oral progesterone concurrently (11). Another case report noted improvements in mood and sleep, along with the resolution of hot flashes, following a hysterectomy and oophorectomy when using a proprietary formulation known as Maca-GO (12).  

 

Author: Mona Fahoum, ND

Reviewer: Kim Ross, DCN

Last updated: February 13, 2024

References

1. Rubio J, Caldas M, Dávila S, Gasco M, Gonzales GF. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Jun 23;6:23.

2. Ybanez-Julca RO, Quispe-Diaz IM, Asuncion-Alvarez D, Sanchez-Munoz K, Vargas-Gonas A, Morote-Guzman J, et al. Antidepressant-Like Behavioral and Spatial Memory Effects in Peruvian Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii)-Treated Rats. Pharmacognosy Journal. 2021 Jan 8;13(1):81–8.

3. Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, Alarcón-Yaquetto DE, Zevallos-Concha A, Caballero L, et al. Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2016 Aug 18;9(3).

4. Stojanovska L, Law C, Lai B, Chung T, Nelson K, Day S, et al. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric. 2015;18(1).

5. 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. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015;2015.

6. Meissner HO, Reich-Bilinska H, Mscisz A, Kedzia B. Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women - Clinical Pilot Study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;

7. Meissner HO, Kapczynski W, Mscisz A, Lutomski J. Use of gelatinized maca (lepidium peruvianum) in early postmenopausal women. Int J Biomed Sci. 2005;

8. Meissner HO, Mscisz A, Reich-Bilinska H, Mrozikiewicz P, Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska T, Kedzia B, et al. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (III) Clinical responses of early-postmenopausal women to Maca in double blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled, crossover configuration, outpatient study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;

9. Meissner, HO Mscisz, A Bilinska-Reich, H, Kapczynski, W, Mrozikiewicz, P Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T Kedzia, B Lowicka, A Barchia I. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (II) Physiological and Symptomatic Responses of Early-Postmenopausal Women to Standardized doses of Maca in Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multi-Centre C. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(4):360–74.

10. Ross K. Improvements in Premenstrual Syndrome, Primary Dysmenorrhea, and Menorrhagia with Natural Therapies: A Case Report. Current Research in Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2023 Oct 5;7(4).

11. Fahoum M, Ross K. An Integrative Approach for Improving and Managing Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): A Case Report. Current Research in Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2023 Oct 27;7(4).

12. Ross K. Nutritional management of surgically induced menopause: A case report. Womens Health (Lond). 2021;17:17455065211031492.

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