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The Passion Plant of the Andes: Here’s Why You’ll Never Want to Be Without It

Maca Root - Boost LibidoToday, we’ll be interviewing nutritional supplement expert George Foss about a very rare herb known to reverse low sex drive and increase sexual desire – an herb that’s rapidly becoming so popular among those suffering from age-related loss of libido that governments in the few regions of the world where it’s grown are actually passing laws to protect it from being wiped out completely. Here’s the straight scoop nobody else is talking about…

Targeted Nutrients: George, thanks for joining us again. Today we’re going to be talking about Maca Root, a comparatively rare herb you’ve been a vocal proponent of for some 20 years now, thanks to its dramatic libido-boosting benefits. As you know, Maca Root is frequently referred to as the “passion plant of the Andes” due to its ability to heighten sexual desire in both men and women, even into old age. Can you tell us a little bit about it, and why it’s become so popular among the over-40 crowd in recent years?

George Foss: Yes, I’ll be happy to elaborate on that. The Maca plant is considered to be an herb. But it has a thick root that’s shaped similar to a radish. That root is used as a food staple throughout South America. And it’s been used for centuries by South American natives to boost sexual prowess and reverse low sex drive.

Maca’s scientific name is Lepidium meyenii. And what makes it both unique and rare is that it grows high in the harsh environment of the Andes Mountains in South America at elevations up to 15,000 feet. So its rarity is directly related to the fact that it’s only grown in a very limited geographical area of the world, and it’s in high demand worldwide due to its rather profound libido-boosting qualities.

Targeted Nutrients: How did Maca Root become known as a libido-booster?

George Foss: There are many stories dating all of the way back to the time of Cortez in the early 16th century, who, by the way, prized the herb so much that he shipped tons of it back to Spain.

But basically, centuries ago ranchers in South America noticed a startling phenomenon: the cattle on their farms began mating more frequently and with greater passion whenever there was Maca herb growing naturally in their pasture.

Native Peruvians later discovered that the plant’s roots have even more libido-boosting properties than its leaves. Ever since that time, Peruvians have used Maca Root as both a food staple – it’s a carbohydrate vegetable rich in nutrients – and as a medicinal aid to help promote sexual virility and desire, physical endurance, energy, stamina and overall vitality.

Targeted Nutrients: So the herb boosts sex drive?

George Foss: Yes. It helps boost sex drive – often dramatically – and particularly in older men and women who might be suffering from age-related loss of libido.

In fact, in South America, where the natives have added Maca Root to their daily diets, it’s widely credited with being the main reason both men and women in that region are able to maintain normal sex drives well into their eighties and nineties.

Of course, because of its dramatic libido-enhancing benefits – meaning its ability to reverse flagging sexual desire – Maca Root is now rapidly gaining worldwide popularity among men and women over age 40 who might suffer from dwindling sexual appetite.

In fact, thanks to recent news articles about Maca Root which have appeared in the New York Times and other popular news media outlets over the past few years, plus several television documentaries on the herb, there’s been a worldwide run on Maca Root, prompting some South American governments to pass new sustainable development regulations to help prevent shortages.

I’ve also seen news reports claiming South American governments have had to crack down on what’s been dubbed “Chinese Maca tourism.” This, apparently, is due to the high number of Chinese tourists visiting South America specifically to bring the herb home with them – this, after Chinese researchers discovered it works far better than ginseng for increasing daily energy levels and maintaining an active sex life well into old age.

Targeted Nutrients: Is Maca Root anything like ginseng?

George Foss: Well, they’re both roots. And they both increase energy levels naturally. But Maca Root is quite different in that it has the added advantage of being a more powerful sexual enhancer than ginseng. Users say Maca Root seems to produce a “cleaner” uplifting effect – it’s not jittery at all. Plus, because it acts on the pleasure center of the brain, as well as on hormone levels through its effect on the pituitary gland, the uplifting effect is very cerebral – it induces pleasure.

Targeted Nutrients: Have there been any clinical research studies on Maca Root’s libido-boosting benefits?

George Foss: Yes, there have been some very interesting studies. For example, South American researchers from major universities have conducted a number of studies. And Chinese researchers have conducted some pretty good clinical research as well.

Off the top of my head, in one study from 1998 Chinese researchers found that feeding Maca Root extracts to normal male mice dramatically increased the frequency with which they coupled with female mice.

The researchers determined there are two compounds in Maca Root – the Macamides and the Macaenes – which they believe are the key to Maca’s sex-boosting powers. That was an animal study, of course. But it was published in the medical journal Urology in 2000. So it was quite a big deal.

There was also a 12-week double blind, placebo-controlled randomized human clinical trial conducted at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru. This study confirmed the same results in humans that previous researchers had found in animals: Adult male humans suffering from low libido who took Maca Root during the study engaged in sex more frequently and with more vigor and stamina and pleasurable effect than similar adult males who were given a placebo. That study was published in the medical journal Andrologia in 2002.

I haven’t seen any clinical research conducted on female adult humans yet. But I can personally attest that women were some of our biggest Maca Root buyers when I was general manager of Kayser Nutrition. Now, maybe a lot of those ladies were buying it for their husbands. I don’t know. But most of the female customers I spoke with who purchased Maca Root regularly told me they were using it to increase their own libido.

In fact, one middle-aged lady who was a frequent customer used to come in and ask me if her “horny pills” were still in stock. I always knew exactly what she meant. Other women used it to help damper some of the harsher symptoms of menopause, giving credence to claims that Maca Root helps balance hormone levels.

Targeted Nutrients: And it really works?

George Foss: Absolutely. That’s why a lot of the well-known natural health and medical gurus are recommending it. For example, Burton Goldberg, editor of The Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer, is an avowed Maca Root enthusiast. He stated in the prestigious Townsend Letter for Doctors, “I’m a 72 year old man and this Maca has taken 25 years off my aging sex life. That’s pretty important to me!”

Dr. Gary F. Gordon, former president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine has written, “We all hear rumors about products like Maca. But using this Peruvian root myself, I personally experienced a significant improvement in erectile tissue response.”

Dr. Gordon explains that unlike some libido-boosting products that work by raising hormone levels, Maca Root appears to work by normalizing levels of steroid hormones like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen which work together in the human body to influence libido.

Maca Root is not a hormone itself. But it apparently helps bring the body’s regulatory hormones into homeostasis, meaning proper balance. Dr. Gordon takes great pains to point out that Maca Root works equally well for boosting libido in both males and females alike, thanks to its hormone-balancing benefits.

Another example: Dr. Henry Campanile, M.D., an internal medicine practitioner in Florida, wrote, “One of my patients told me about Maca, and I started taking it about a month ago. It is phenomenal! I haven’t felt this good since I was 20 years old. I have so much energy and look so well, my patients have remarked on it and told me how rested I seem. I’ve got so much energy now I have started an exercise program.”

Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., an internal medicine practitioner in Arkansas has written, “Whenever possible, I prefer to use Maca therapy rather than hormone replacement therapy because HRT actually ages the body by diminishing the hormone-producing capability of the glands. Maca, on the other hand, is safe, natural, and has proven to be very effective with menopausal patients in eliminating hot flashes and depression and in increasing energy levels.”

Finally, there’s Dr. Hugo Malaspina, M.D., a respected cardiologist in Lima, Peru.

He writes, “Maca regulates the organs of internal secretion, such as the pituitary, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, etc. I have perhaps 200 female patients whose premenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms are alleviated by taking Maca.”

In other words, everyone from alternative medicine experts to orthodox medical practitioners – plus tens of thousands of middle-aged men and women from around the world – are taking Maca Root and raving about its libido-boosting and energy-boosting benefits, as well as its apparent ability to bring hormone levels into more youthful balance in both men and women.

Targeted Nutrients: Are there any serious side effects?

George Foss: None that I’ve heard of. For example, when used as recommended, Maca Root has none of the adrenal-inhibiting side effects that are common with the use of synthetic hormone prescription drugs. Nor does Maca Root have any of the potentially dangerous side effects of Viagra (heart attack/vision disruption). It’s a very safe herb.

People with excessively high blood pressure might want to check with their doctor first, because Maca Root does have a mild, stimulating effect on the body. Fortunately, however, researchers say it mostly stimulates the neurons in the brain, particularly those in the so-called “pleasure center” of the brain that controls mood, desire and arousal.

In 20 years I’ve personally never heard of a single adverse reaction to using Maca Root. However, I’ve heard a plethora of very positive reports. When I was general manager of Kayser Nutrition, it was hard to keep Maca Root on the shelf. We had a very upscale clientele, including famous movie stars, millionaires, and captains of business and industry from the Los Angeles area. And they just loved Maca Root.

Speaking of movie stars, I recently read news reports that Gwyneth Paltrow has started taking Maca Root in the morning, along with her regular supplement regimen. And there was an online news article claiming that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been taking a Maca Root product at the recommendation of Dr. Oz. None of that surprises me in the least. The wealthy and famous tend to hear about these kinds of amazing products long before the general public catches on to them – often decades in advance.

Targeted Nutrients: Is Maca Root anything like Viagra or any of the prescription medications that work through the body’s nitric oxide cycle?

George Foss: Actually, Maca Root is quite different from prescription drugs like Viagra. First of all, those types of drugs are used almost exclusively by men, for the express purpose of achieving an erection. Maca Root, on the other hand works for both men and women. But it’s used for boosting libido, which is to say, increasing sex drive in those who might be gradually losing interest in sex as they age.

Instead of forcing a particular organ of the body to function, like Viagra, Cialis and other similar prescription drugs, Maca Root boosts the flagging desire for sex. It increases passion. As a friend of mine recently stated during a speech at a health conference, “It doesn’t necessarily turn limp shrimp into stout trout. But it really puts the fire back into your furnace.”

If I had to say it succinctly, though somewhat crudely, taking Maca Root makes you feel good and horny again. And when you’re good and horny, everything functions better in that department.

Targeted Nutrients: How does Maca Root accomplish this?

George Foss: There’s some controversy over how Maca Root works. Some researchers, including Maca research expert Dr. Gloria Chacon from Peru, believe that Maca Root promotes optimal function of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which in turn helps balance your body’s natural hormone production levels.

Again, Maca Root itself is not a hormone. But as Dr. Chacon’s research suggests, and as I mentioned earlier, it helps regulate hormones naturally, bringing abnormally low levels up and abnormally high levels down. The result is a more youthful balance of hormones that leads to more youthful sexual desire. And that in turn, of course, leads to greater sexual arousal. And it works equally well for both men and women.

Other researchers however dispute this theory. They believe Maca Root works chiefly by stimulating a complex neural circuit in the brain that’s directly involved in sexual arousal – perhaps the melanocyte-receptors in the brain, which are known to play a significant part in human sexual arousal.

Based on the clinical research I’ve seen, I tend to believe Maca Root does both, and that competing researchers are simply discovering different routes through which Maca Root triggers sexual desire.

Regardless of how it actually works, the main point to understand is that it really does work. For many people, Maca’s role in enhancing sex drive and arousal can be quite dramatic.

Targeted Nutrients: Can you be a little bit more specific about the differences between Maca Root and prescription drugs like Viagra?

George Foss: As I mentioned, Maca Root acts on neurons in the pleasure center of the brain that are directly tied to sexual arousal. This way, nature can take its course. What’s more, if the hormonal researchers are right, Maca Root also works to balance hormones in both men and women to more youthful levels.

Viagra, on the other hand, blocks an enzyme that diminishes blood flow to the penis, producing stiffer erections as a result. So Viagra essentially forces the body to have an erection. But Maca Root triggers a heightened sense of sexual desire, passion and sensuality. If desire is running low, Maca Root makes you want sex again.

Targeted Nutrients: Is Maca Root used for purposes other than heightening sex drive?

George Foss: Oh, yes. When I worked at Kayser Nutrition, we had regulars who used small doses of Maca Root in place of their morning coffee. They said it produced a “cleaner” and more enjoyable sense of alertness and awareness throughout the day.

I’ve used it many times for just that purpose, and I can attest it’s true. It’s longer lasting than coffee. So if you pop a capsule of Maca Root in the morning with breakfast, you don’t have to sit in the office drinking coffee all day just to stay awake. And most users say it produces a distinctive sense of well-being, as if you’re back on top of the world again. Once more, this is something I can personally attest to.

And the added benefit that everyone loves, of course, is that after about a week of taking Maca Root daily, in small doses, the feelings of heightened libido and sexual awareness begin to kick in. Sexually speaking, you start to feel more like you did in your teens or twenties.

The old Righteous Brothers song lyric “Bring back that loving feeling” comes to mind. For most people, Maca Root seems to bring back that loving feeling like no other herbal supplement they’ve ever tried.

In other words, Maca Root increases energy levels and sex drive. I used to tell customers at Kayser Nutrition that Maca Root allows you to work all day, and be ready for nighttime play. Again, it’s the actual physical desire for sex that’s dramatically enhanced when Maca Root is used. To put it crudely, Maca Root turns you on. It makes you horny. Sexually, it makes you feel like a kid again.

Targeted Nutrients: You mentioned that it takes up to a week of daily Maca Root usage before its libido-boosting benefits really begin to kick in.

George Foss: It depends upon the person as well as the dosage regimen used. For example, some people prefer using Maca Root only when they want to enjoy its libido-boosting benefits. They tend to take three or four capsules at a time in order to help induce a sense of sexual desire that same day.

But yes, at the smaller dosages of, say, just one or two capsules a day, people generally have to take Maca Root for up to a week or so, allowing its benefits to build up in the body. They tend to notice increased energy, stamina and a sense of well-being right from the start, along with sharper mental acuity. And over the course of about a week that newfound energy and sense of well-being begins to translate into increased sexual desire. And if the small daily dosages are continued, the sexual desire sticks with you.

When I was at Kayser Nutrition in southern California, our feedback indicated that most people taking only one or two capsules a day had more than 80 percent user satisfaction by the end of the first week, and 90 percent by the end of the second week. So at smaller doses the libido-boosting benefits are more gradual, and at larger doses they’re more immediate.

Targeted Nutrients: That’s tremendous! But if a person is suffering from low sex drive caused by dwindling hormone levels, why not just take prescription hormone drugs like testosterone for men, or estrogen and progesterone for women, instead of Maca?

George Foss: For some people, hormone replacement therapy might be the right answer, particularly if their body is low in one specific hormone. But prescription hormone drugs – whether you’re talking about testosterone for men or estrogen and progesterone for women – can have some very nasty side effects, including cancer.

What’s more, because of the hormonal complexity of the human body, taking any particular prescription hormone drug can throw the rest of the body’s hormones completely out of balance. So over the course of time, you can make the hormonal imbalance worse, instead of better.

The bottom line is that flooding the human body with synthetic hormones is not necessarily always the right approach. Check with your doctor first, of course, before beginning any supplement regimen. But for many people, the right answer might be much simpler than using synthetic prescription hormone drugs. A natural neuronal pleasure-inducer like Maca Root might just be the real key to regaining youthful sexual desire for a lot of middle-aged and elderly people.

Remember, unlike prescription hormone drugs, Maca Root is completely natural, and it seems to have a balancing effect on the body’s entire hormonal system, as well as a very distinctive “trigger” effect on the pleasure center of the brain.

What’s more, in South America it’s been consumed daily for hundreds of years as a food staple, so it has an astonishingly long history of safe usage.

Targeted Nutrients: George, as always, we very much appreciate your keen insights into the world of nutritional supplements, as well as your ability to make complex issues easy to understand. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.

George Foss: It’s always my pleasure. Any time.

[George Foss is the former long-time general manager of Kayser Nutrition, southern California’s health food store chain to the wealthy and famous for 52 years. He’s been called a “walking repository of nutritional supplement research knowledge” and as such has also been a respected consultant to the nutritional supplement industry. George has also been featured on a variety of television and radio news broadcasts over the past 30 years. So when George speaks, we tend to listen. And we always learn something new and beneficial to our health and well-being.]

Best Maca Root Supplement

While the popularity of Maca Root has soared over the past few years due to extensive news media attention (including an article in the New York Times and several subsequent TV documentaries), Targeted Nutrients has been one of the earliest proponents of its usage for its dramatic libido-boosting benefits. They’ve made the herb available to the U.S. public for well over a decade.

While men and women use Maca Root largely for its ability to heighten sex drive and desire, many people also use it to banish fatigue, low energy levels, exhaustion, bodily weakness, hormonal imbalances and even mild depression. Indeed, Maca Root is a great mood lifter! Women undergoing PMS also take it to reduce hot flashes and mood swings, while men often take it to improve work-related energy and stamina.

Targeted Nutrients’ pure, high-quality Maca Root powder is harvested in South America under sustainable development policies (to help ensure shortages don’t develop due to its growing worldwide popularity). It’s then imported straight from the source for maximum freshness, purity and potency.

After importation to the U.S., the powdered root is then encapsulated, bottled and labeled in a fully-compliant, FDA-certified Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) laboratory. Each capsule provides 500 mg of pure powdered Maca Root, and you get a whopping 90 capsules per bottle.

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