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Red Maca

The overview of research suggests that red maca supports:

  • prostate health

  • bone health

  • skin health

  • detoxification support

  • brain health

The evidence is limited for the use of red maca on these health conditions with the exception of prostate health, which has been extensively studied in animals.  

Below is a compilation of the available literature (including animals and humans) for red maca, with an overview and a summary of the findings provided. 

September 2022

Lepidium meyenii Walp (red maca) Supplementation Prevents Acrylamide-Induced Oxidative Stress and Liver Toxicity in Rats: Phytochemical Composition by UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 35932411

Summary of Findings:

  • Administration of acrylamide (a by-product of cooking that is a known carcinogen) significantly increased (p<0.001) malondialdehyde (MDA) levels in erythrocytes, brain, and liver.

  • Red maca was administered at a dose of 1 and 2 g/kg body weight for 4 weeks

  • Red maca

  • Prevented (p<0.001) an increase in MDA levels in all tissues

  • Significantly (p<0.001) lower levels of ALT and AST

  • Prevented oxidative stress and liver toxicity caused by acrylamide.

  • Further, twenty-five secondary metabolites were identified in the red maca including carbolines, alkamides, fatty acids, and macamides, "...which are probably involved in their antioxidant protective role."

January 2021

Antidepressant-Like Behavioral and Spatial Memory Effects in Peruvian Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii)-Treated Rats

Animal study, male rats and ovariectomized rats

Not indexed on PubMed

Summary of Findings:

  • Antidepressant-like behavioral in male rats and spatial memory in ovariectomized (OVX) rats was studied using Fluoxetine and amitriptyline as reference drugs and estradiol for OVX rats.

  • Red maca has anti-depressive application in male rats (dose of 0.5 and 1.0g/kg body weight)

  • Red maca (dose 2.0 g/kg body weight)  increases the ability of learning and memory in OVX rats in a similar fashion that estradiol does.

November 2020

Maca extracts and estrogen replacement therapy in ovariectomized rats exposed at high altitude

Animal study, ovariectomized rats

PMID: 33488288

Summary of Findings:

  • Animals were treated with estradiol, red maca, or black maca for 28 days, then exposed to high altitudes, which are noted to impair female reproductive health. 

  • Red and black maca extracts significantly (P < .001) reduced the malondialdehyde (MDA) (a toxic product from lipid peroxidation) levels in a similar fashion to estradiol.

  • "Red and black maca extracts had similar effects with E2, by significantly (P < .001) reversing and increasing the ovariectomized induced decrease in cornified endometrial cell number." 

  • Under hypoxic conditions (which generate oxidative stress), the black maca (P < .05) and E2 (P < .01) increased the uterine weight, without recovery of uterine function.

  • "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that shows how black and red maca extracts reduced the lipid peroxidation in a similar way to estradiol..."

April 2020

Inflammatory pathway employed by Red Maca to treat induced benign prostatic hyperplasia in rats

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 31989657

Summary of Findings:

  • Doses of 40 mg and 80 mg of red maca were compared against control and finasteride

  • "Red Maca and finasteride treatments decreased inflammatory cells counts in prostate, inhibiting TNF-a by different pathways."

  • "Finasteride increased IL4 whereas Red Maca increased INF-g."

  • "In conclusion, data suggest that finasteride acts on Th2 response by increasing IL4 in prostate, while Red Maca acts on Th1 response mediated by INF-g."

December 2017

N-Butanol and Aqueous Fractions of Red Maca Methanolic Extract Exerts Opposite Effects on Androgen and Oestrogens Receptors (Alpha and Beta) in Rats with Testosterone-Induced Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 29375645

Summary of Findings:

  • Methanolic red maca extract and is butanol and aqueous fractions were studied for its effects on the expression of androgen and estrogen receptors in rats with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) induced by testosterone enanthate (TE).

  • Red maca as an extract and butanol fraction reduced prostate weight in a similar manner to Finasteride

  • Aqueous fraction increased androgen and ERα receptors.

  • All maca groups restored the expression of ERβ. 

  • "In conclusion, butanol fraction of red maca reduced prostate size in BPH by restoring expression of ERβ without affecting androgen receptors and ERα."

December 2017

Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands, Promotes Skin Wound Healing at Sea Level and at High Altitude in Adult Male Mice

Animal study, male mice

PMID: 28846044

Summary of Findings:

  • The effect of spray-dried extract of red maca for tissue repair at high and low altitudes was studied.  Delayed wound healing and increased inflammatory cell activity was observed in the high altitudes 

  • Red maca accelerated wound closure, decreased epidermal hyperplasia, and decreased the number of neutrophils and increased the number of macrophages at the wound site. 

October 2016

Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) did not affect cell viability despite increased androgen receptor and prostate-specific antigen gene expression in the human prostate cancer cell line LNCaP

Cell study, human prostate cells

PMID: 27681649

Summary of Findings:

  • Three experiments were conducted:

  • Red maca aqueous extract at 0, 10, 20, 40 or 80 μg/ml was added to LNCaP cells, and viability was evaluated 24 or 48 hours after treatment.

  • LNCaP cells were treated with 80 μg/ml of red maca plus one of two anticancer drugs and viability was assessed 48 hours later.

  • LNCaP cells were treated with red maca 0, 20, 40 or 80 μg/ml, and mRNA level for androgen receptor and prostate-specific antigen was assessed 12 hours later.

  • Red maca did not affect viability of LNCaP cells when used alone or with the anticancer therapies. 

  • Red maca increased androgen signaling and prostate-specific antigen gene expression without having toxic effects.

August 2016

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

Human study, N=175 men and women

PMID: 27548190

Summary of Findings:

  • Participants living in low altitudes (LA) 150 meters above sea level in Lima, Peru and high altitudes (HA) 4,340 meters above sea levels in Cerro de Pasco, Peru were included in the study comparing efficacy of black and red maca.

  • About 50% of all participants reported an increase in sexual desire.

  • Higher quality of life was reported in both red and black maca groups (p<0.05).

  • Effects on mood, energy and CMS scores were better using red maca compared to black maca and placebo. 

  • Red maca group: 80% of all participants reported increased mood and 90% reported increased energy.

  • Red maca reduced chronic mountain sickness scores.

October 2014

Effect of red maca (Lepidium meyenii) on INF-γ levels in ovariectomized rats

Animal study, ovariectomized rats

PMID: 25597718

Summary of Findings:

  • Various doses of rad maca were studied (2.15, 4.3, and 8.6 mg polyphenols/body weight kilogram and was compared to the estradiol for its effects. 

  • Both estradiol and red maca reversed the effect of ovariectomy on the IFN-γ levels, increasing levels.

Article is in Spanish, data reported on the Abstract only, which is provided in English.

May 2012

Effect of red maca (Lepidium meyenii) on prostate zinc levels in rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 21762188

Summary of Findings:

  • Aqueous extract of red maca (RM) was given to rats with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) induced by testosterone enanthate (TE). 

  • Prostate weight was reduced starting at day 1 of red maca administration, reversing the effects of BPH induced by TE. 

  • Upon administration, TE increase prostate zinc levels. Red maca reduced the zinc levels.

  • "To sum up, RM may regulate prostatic growth by reducing prostate zinc levels in rats where prostatic hyperplasia was induced with TE."

July 2011

Photoprotection against the UVB-induced oxidative stress and epidermal damage in mice using leaves of three different varieties of Lepidium meyenii (maca)

Animal study, male mice

PMID: 21781063

Summary of Findings:

  • Red, yellow, and black maca demonstrated UVA/UVB absorptive properties and antioxidant activity.

  • Highest activity was from red maca, followed by black and then yellow.

  • Each of the three colors prevented the development of sunburns, epidermal hyperplasia, and leukocytic infiltration. 

  • Red maca protected the skin and liver against lipid peroxidation.

June 2010

Effects of different varieties of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized rats

Animal study, ovariectomized rats

PMID: 20616517

Summary of Findings:

  • Black and red maca reduced the negative effects of ovariectomy on bone health by increasing trabecular bone in the lumbar vertebrae.

  • "Red and black maca have protective effects on bone architecture in OVX rats without showing estrogenic effects on uterine weight."

June 2008

Antagonistic effect of Lepidium meyenii (red maca) on prostatic hyperplasia in adult mice

Animal study, male mice

PMID: 18477205

Summary of Findings:

  • Prostate hyperplasia was induced with testosterone enanthate (TE). Hydroalcoholic extract of red maca was then compared to Finasteride, as the control.

  • Red maca reduced prostate weight in 21 days, prostate acini in 14 days, and stromal area in 7 days.

  • Polyphenol content of red maca increased in the aqueous fraction compared to pulverized maca. 

August 2007

Effect of chronic treatment with three varieties of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on reproductive parameters and DNA quantification in adult male rats

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 17683465

Summary of Findings:

  • Black and yellow maca improved epididymal sperm count

  • Black, yellow, and red maca improved sperm count in vas deferens.

  • "Maca seems to act as a modulator of sperm count at the reproductive tract level."

August 2007

Dose-response effect of Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on benign prostatic hyperplasia induced by testosterone enanthate

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 17289361

Summary of Findings:

  • Freeze-dried aqueous red maca in various doses was used and compared against Finasteride as the control.  Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) was induced with testosterone enanthate (TE).

  • Red maca reduced prostate weight in BPH induced rats in a dose-response fashion. 

  • Doses of 0.1 and 0.5 g/kg body weight resulted in higher reductions in prostate weight compared to Finasteride. 

March 2007

Effect of two different extracts of red maca in male rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 17334591

Summary of Findings:

  • Prostatic hyperplasia was induced in male rats with testosterone enanthate (TE) and two extracts of red maca were compared.

  • "The present study showed that hydroalcoholic or aqueous extract of red maca containing 0.1 mg of benzylglucosinolate can reduce prostate size in male rats in which prostatic hyperplasia had been induced by TE."

June 2006

Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice

Animal study, ovariectomized mice

PMID: 16796734

Summary of Findings:

  • Yellow, black, and red maca were studied

  • Black maca provided the most beneficial effects on latent learning, particularly on trained mice though all phenotypes were effective for trained and non-trained mice (p<0.05)

  • All varieties demonstrated anti-depressant effects.

February 2006

Effect of short-term and long-term treatments with three ecotypes of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on spermatogenesis in rats

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 16174556

Summary of Findings:

  • Prostate weight was reduced (p<0.05)

  • No effect on testicular or epididymal weight, sperm motility or sperm count

January 2005

Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats

Animal study, male rats

PMID: 15661081

Summary of Findings:

  • Red maca significantly reduced ventral prostate size. 

  • Red maca also prevented the prostate weight increase induced by TE treatment

  • Neither yellow nor black maca were found to have an impact on prostate health.

  • Serum T or E2 levels were not affected by any of the colors of maca assessed. 

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