Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Lepidium meyenii


The plant maca, grown at 4000 m altitude in the Peruvian Central Andes, contains hypocotyls that have been used as food and in traditional medicine for centuries. The aim of this research was to provide results on some health effects of oral administration of spray-dried extracts of black or red maca (Lepidium meyenii) in adult human subjects living at low (LA) and high altitude (HA). A total of 175 participants were given 3 g of either placebo, black, or red maca extract daily for 12 weeks. Primary outcomes were changes in sexual desire, mood, energy, health-related quality of life score (HRQL), and chronic mountain sickness (CMS) score, or in glycaemia, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels. Secondary outcomes were acceptability and safety, assessed using the Likert test and side effect self-recording, respectively, and the effect of altitude. At low altitude, 32, 30, and 32 participants started the study receiving placebo, red maca, or black maca, respectively. At high altitudes, 33, 35, and 31 participants started the study receiving placebo, red maca, and black maca, respectively. Consumption of spray-dried extracts of red and black maca resulted in improvement in mood, energy, and health status, and reduced CMS score. Fatty acids and macamides were higher in spray-dried extracts of black maca than in red maca. GABA predominated in spray-dried extracts of red maca. Effects on mood, energy, and CMS score were better with red maca. Black maca and, in smaller proportions, red maca reduced hemoglobin levels only in highlanders with abnormally high hemoglobin levels; neither variety of maca reduced hemoglobin levels in lowlanders. Black maca reduced blood glucose levels. Both varieties produced similar responses in mood, and HRQL score. Maca extracts consumed at LA or HA had good acceptability and did not show serious adverse effects. In conclusion, maca extract consumption relative to the placebo improved quality of life parameters. Differences in the level of improvement between red and black maca are probably due to differences in the composition of these two plant varieties. Both maca extracts were well tolerated and safe.

Concepts: Better, Effectiveness, Blood sugar, Andes, Altitude sickness, High altitude wind power, Lepidium, Lepidium meyenii


Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed fertility benefits.

Concepts: Menopause, Luteinizing hormone, Lepidium, Lepidium meyenii


Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp, 2n = 8x = 64) of Brassicaceae family is an Andean economic plant cultivated on the 4000-4500 meters central sierra in Peru. Considering the rapid uplift of central Andes occurred 5 to 10 million years ago (Mya), an evolutionary question arises on how plants like maca acquire high altitude adaptation within short geological period. Here, we report the high-quality genome assembly of maca, in which two close-spaced maca-specific whole genome duplications (WGDs, ∼ 6.7 Mya) were identified. Comparative genomics between maca and close-related Brassicaceae species revealed expansions of maca genes and gene families involved in abiotic stress response, hormone signaling pathway and secondary metabolite biosynthesis via WGDs. Retention and subsequent evolution of many duplicated genes may account for the morphological and physiological changes (i.e. small leaf shape and self-fertility) in maca for high altitude environment. Additionally, some duplicated maca genes under positive selection were identified with functions in morphological adaptation (i.e. LEAF CURLING RESPONSIVENESS) and abiotic stress response (i.e. GLYCINE-RICH RNA-BINDING PROTEINS and DNA-DAMAGE-REPAIR/TOLERATION 2). Collectively, the maca genome provides useful information on the important roles of WGDs in plant high altitude adaptation in the Andes.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Organism, Genome, Genomics, Andes, Lepidium meyenii


ABSTRACT Objective: Lepidium meyenii (Maca), has been used for centuries for its fertility enhancing and aphrodisiac properties. In an Australian study, Maca improved anxiety and depressive scores. The effects of Maca on hormones, lipids, glucose, serum cytokines, blood pressure, menopausal symptoms and general well-being in Chinese postmenopausal women were evaluated Methods: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study was conducted in 29 postmenopausal Hong Kong Chinese women. They received 3.3 g/day of Maca or placebo for 6 weeks each, in either order, over 12 weeks. At baseline, week 6 and week 12, estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), full lipid profiles, glucose and serum cytokines, were measured. The Greene Climacteric, SF-36v2, Women’s Health Questionnaire and Utian quality of life, scales were used to assess the severity of menopausal symptoms and health related quality of life. Results: There were no differences in estradiol, FSH, TSH, SHBG, glucose, lipid profiles and serum cytokines amongst those who received Maca as compared to placebo group, however, a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure and depression was apparent after Maca treatment. Conclusions: Maca does not exert hormonal or immune biological action in the small cohort of patients studies, however, it appears to reduce symptoms of depression and improve diastolic blood pressure in Chinese postmenopausal women. Although results are comparable to previous similar published studies in postmenopausal women, there might be a cultural difference among the Chinese postmenopausal women in terms of symptom reporting.

Concepts: Hormone replacement therapy, Hormone, Menopause, Luteinizing hormone, Sex hormone-binding globulin, Follicle-stimulating hormone, Hong Kong, Lepidium meyenii


Lepidium meyenii (Maca), originated from Peru, has been cultivated widely in China as a popular health care food. However, the chemical and effective studies of Maca were less in-depth, which restricted its application seriously. To ensure the quality of Maca, a feasible and accurate strategy was established. One hundred and sixty compounds including 30 reference standards were identified in 6 fractions of methanol extract of Maca by UHPLC-ESI-Orbitrap MS. Among them, 15 representative active compounds were simultaneously determined in 17 samples by UHPLC-ESI-QqQ MS. The results suggested that Maca from Yunnan province was the potential substitute for the one from Peru. Meanwhile, the neuroprotective effects of Maca were investigated. Three fractions and two pure compounds showed strong activities in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced zebrafish model. Among them, 80% methanol elution fraction (Fr5) showed significant neuroprotective activity, followed by 100% part (Fr6). The inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) was a possible mechanism of its neuroprotective effect.

Concepts: Effect, Effectiveness, Yunnan, Kunming, Zebrafish, Fraction, Lepidium, Lepidium meyenii


The aim of this review was to assess the evidence for the effectiveness of maca (Lepidium meyenii) in improving semen quality. We searched 11 databases from their inception to March 2016 and included all clinical trials on the improvement of semen quality parameters in infertile and healthy men, regardless of the study design or the type of maca. The risk of bias for each study was assessed using the Cochrane criteria. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validation were performed independently by the first two authors. Discrepancies were resolved through discussion by the same two authors. Five studies - 3 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and 2 uncontrolled observational studies (UOSs) - met all of the inclusion criteria. One RCT found favorable effects of maca on sperm mobility in infertile men. The two other RCTs showed positive effects of maca on several semen quality parameters in healthy men. The two UOSs also suggested favorable effects of maca on semen quality. The results of our systematic review provide suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of maca in improving semen quality. However, the total number of trials, the total sample size, and the risk of bias of the included studies prevent the drawing firm conclusions. More rigorous studies are warranted.

Concepts: Scientific method, Experimental design, Clinical trial, Improve, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Clinical research, Lepidium meyenii


Maca - Lepidium meyenii Walp has been cultivated and used by Andean people for over 1,300 to 2000 years in Peru as food and medicine. Starting in the late 1990’s it has developed into an important herbal medicine in China and is now cultivated there widely, too.

Concepts: Health, Herb, Andes, Lima, Peru, Quechua, Lepidium, Lepidium meyenii


A polysaccharide was obtained from Lepidium meyenii Walp by hot water extraction and purification by Millipore (100 kD) and Sephadex G-200. The content of polysaccharide was examined to be 89.9% with phenol-sulfuric acid method. Its average molecular weight was estimated to be 2.213 × 106 Da by High Performance Gel Permeation Chromatography (HPGPC). Monosaccharide analysis showed that the polysaccharide was composed of arabinose, mannose, glucose and galactose with the molar ratio of 2.134: 1: 2.78: 2.82. After Smith degradation, methylation, infrared spectroscopy and NMR, the primary structure of the polysaccharide was identified. The backbone of the polysaccharide was composed of →4)-β-D-Galp-(1→ and →4)-α-D-Galp-(1→, while the branches were comprised of →6)-β-D-Glup-(1→, →5)- β-D-Araf-(1→, →3,6)-α-D-Manp-(1→, →3)-α-D-Galp-(1→, and α-D-Glup-(1→. The anti-fatigue effect of the polysaccharide was evaluated using exhaustive swimming test and biochemical indexes. The results indicated the polysaccharide has anti-fatigue effect.

Concepts: Protein, Spectroscopy, Glucose, Chromatography, Carbohydrate, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide, Lepidium meyenii


A novel technique of ultrasound-assisted freeze-thaw pretreatment (UFP) was developed to improve the drying efficiency of maca and bioactive amide synthesis in maca. The optimal UFP conditions are ultrasonic processing 90 min at 30 °C with 6 freeze-thaw cycles. Samples with freeze-thaw pretreatment (FP), ultrasound pretreatment (UP), and UFP were prepared for further comparative study. A no pretreatment (NP) sample was included as a control. The results showed that UFP improved the drying efficiency of maca slices, showing the highest effective moisture diffusivity (1.75 × 10-9m2/s). This result was further supported by low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (LF-NMR) analysis and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The rehydration capacity and protein content of maca slices were improved by UFP. More importantly, contents of bioactive macamides and their biosynthetic precursors were increased in 2.5- and 10-fold, respectively. In conclusion, UFP is an efficient technique to improve drying efficiency, physicochemical properties, and bioactive macamides of maca, which can be applied in the industrial manufacture of maca products.

Concepts: Better, Electron, Improve, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Ultrasound, Scanning electron microscope, Lepidium, Lepidium meyenii


Stallion semen is damaged by oxidative stress during cooling and transport. Semen processing and extenders have been tested to improve the fertilizing capacity of semen and to preserve semen during transport. Dietary supplementation with natural antioxidants has been proposed to prevent oxidative damages. In this study, for the first time, the effect of dietary supplementation with Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on the characteristics of fresh and chilled stallion semen was evaluated. Maca is a traditional Andean crop used as a nutraceutical for the fertility-enhancing properties that are linked with antioxidant activity. The diet of five stallions was supplemented with 20 g of Maca powder daily for a total of 60 days. A control group of five stallions received the same diet without Maca. Semen was collected once before the administration of Maca (D0), twice during the administration at 30 and 60 days (D30 and D60), and finally twice at 30 and 60 days after the end of the administration (D90 and D120). Ejaculates were processed for cooled shipping at 5 °C and evaluated in the laboratory for total and progressive motility, acrosome integrity, and lipid peroxidation after collection and after 24, 48, and 72 h of storage. Dietary supplementation with Maca improved sperm concentration (from 213 ± 80.4 to 447 ± 73.1 × 106 spz/mL) and total sperm count (from 10,880 ± 4377 to 24,783 ± 4419 × 106 spz). The beneficial effects of Maca supplementation on motility and acrosome integrity in the raw semen were detected from the end of treatment with Maca (D60) until the end of the study (D120). Furthermore, during cooling storage, total motility, progressive motility, and acrosome integrity declined more slowly in the Maca-treated group than in the control group. Lipid peroxidation did not change during cooling storage in either group and did not show a significant difference between the two groups. In this study, the dietary supplementation with Maca increased sperm production and stabilized semen quality during chilled storage.

Concepts: Nutrition, Antioxidant, Sperm, Oxidative phosphorylation, Semen analysis, Semen, Lepidium, Lepidium meyenii