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  1. #1
    Google Junkie nobimbo's Avatar
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    Default Maca Root for thyroid, estrogen dominance, IR, and more-really interesting stuff!

    Hi all,

    I've been doing a lot of research on an herb called Maca Root that seems to be very helpful for hormonal problems in perimenopausal and menopausal women, including thryoid, weight loss, hot flashes, energy, and more (even insulin resistance!). I came across it while reading a thread on a thyroid/low carb board, then did a lot of googling to find out more. I just placed an order for some, and will post my experiences with it, but wanted to share this info now with you. Here is the part of the initial post that got my attention:

    This root is reported to help the whole endocrine system including the thyroid and can rebalance the estrogen dominance that often accompanies hypothyroidism and overweight problems. It has no phytoestrogens, but women are using it to alleviate menopause symptoms with apparently amazing success. The root works on the hypothalmus and pituitary glands to regulate the whole endocrine system, which has a very delicate balancing act to perform. There is no danger of too much hormone or hormone imbalance, because you are not taking a hormone replacement, you are stimulating the body's own natural production of hormones in a natural way. It's safe for men to take too, as it stimulates production of testosterone and has many benefits for them too, which I won't go into because the topic is hypothyroidism.

    http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthrea...3&page=1&pp=15

    Here is a link to an article (interview) that will provide good info about Maca Root:

    http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles...ller-herbs.htm

    I am currently using natural progesterone cream (started about 3 weeks ago), but I intend to use both products for awhile. My progesterone is almost non-existent right now, and my estrogen is very high, so I am fighting big time estrogen-dominance right now. The Maca Root sounds promising, as it supposedly works to balance the whole endocrine system, which makes much more sense to me than taking hormones (even natural ones). Btw, Maca Root is also a libido-enhancer, and is referred to as an "herbal viagara" for men.

    If anyone has any experiences with Maca, I'd love to hear about them.

    Linda
    dx pcos 1984, type II diabetes 2001, also hypertension
    Met 2000mg since 2001, started Glucophage XR 4/22/04, then switched to Met ER 6/04; also: multi, Vit. C, Vit. E, B12/folic acid combo, fish oil & borage oil combo, garlic capsules, cinnamon, Vitex, calcium with magnesium/zinc, biotin, CoQ10, selenium,iron
    Other meds: Verapamil and Altace(for blood pressure)
    Started laser hair removal 7/29/03, completed 3/04 (it works!)
    UAE for fibroid 3/24/03 and 3/16/04

  2. #2
    Registered User Emmanuelle's Avatar
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    I have also been interested in maca root because balancing the entire endocrine system would address the root cause of pcos. I'm also trying to find more information about it because I want to be sure it doesn't increase testosterone in women for example. I want to make sure it " balances" whatever needs to be balanced increasing or decreasing hormones depending on the condition. This is probably what it does since maca is an adaptogen and adaptogens promotes balance of organs. Still, there are some adaptogens that have strong estrogenic properties like ginseng and others have testosterone increasing properties like cordyceps. So I hope maca is a true balancer.

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    Google Junkie nobimbo's Avatar
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    Emmanuelle,

    I have come across two things that may be of concern with Maca:

    1). It is a rich source of iodine (which I guess is why it helps with thyroid problems). I have heard that if you don't have an iodine deficiency (which is rare in the U.S.), supplementing with iodine can actually be harmful to the thyroid.

    2). "...and is a source of glycoside steroids. Weight lifters and body builders are turning to Maca as a natural and safe alternative to anabolic steroids." (Ummm, I'm not looking to introduce steroids into my system!) Emmanuelle, what do you know about glycoside steroids?

    Here is some info from a commercial website:

    Treasure from the Andes Maca, (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) is a root vegetable, or tuber from a mat-like perennial that grows in the harshest, most difficult farmlands in the world. Native Peruvians have used Maca as a food and as a medicine since before the Incas. This sturdy relative of the potato and Mexican yam is cultivated high in the mountains of Peru in an environment of amazingly intense sunlight and fierce winds. It grows at elevations higher than any other crop in the world and it manages this existence in regions that are little more than barren rock with sub-freezing temperatures each night.

    Perhaps the challenging native environment where it is grown gives Maca its strength. Maca has been an important crop to the Andean Indians. Today, in spite of the labor intensive methods used to grow it, Maca is still a valuable commodity. The tenacity of this incredible plant makes agriculture possible in a region that otherwise would be relegated to grazing sheep and llamas

    Enhances Fertility - One of the chief attributes of Maca, according to the Peruvian Indians who grow it, is its reported ability to enhance fertility. When the Spanish conquistadors first began to raise sheep in the higher regions the sheep were reproducing poorly. The Indians suggested Maca. The results were so amazing that the Spaniards noted them in colonial records. The records show that the Spanish began to demand Maca as payment from the colonies.

    The reputed fertility enhancement of Maca may be due to its high content of iodine and zinc, amino acids and vitamin C. Although the fertility enhancement of Maca has not been substantiated scientifically it seems a reasonable choice for those wishing to conceive.

    Superfood of the Incas - In the difficult regions where it is cultivated, Maca has the highest nutritional values of any food crop grown there. Ironically, nourishing Maca today is often traded for less nutritious foods like rice, noodles, and sugar. Maca is a delicacy, with a sweet and spicy flavor and a butterscotch-like aroma. Its potato like tubers can be dried and stored for years with no appreciable loss of nutritional value. The roots are usually yellow or purple, or yellow with purple bands and resemble its relative the radish. The fresh roots are baked or roasted in ashes. The dried roots are usually boiled in milk or water to create a savory porridge. Maca boiled in water tastes sweeter than cocoa.

    Maca is a nutritional powerhouse especially rich in iodine. It is a reliable protein source containing significant amounts of amino acids. The protein and calories in Maca are stable even after years of storage. It is also rich in complex carbohydrates and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. It contains vitamins B-1, B-2, B12, C and E and is a source of glycoside steroids. Weight lifters and body builders are turning to Maca as a natural and safe alternative to anabolic steroids. The rich and diverse nutrient content of Maca explains its many traditional uses and why it is sought after today.

    Balance and Energy - Maca is an "adaptogen" meaning it helps to restore balance or homeostasis to the body. Rather than addressing a specific symptom, adaptogens are used to improve the overall adaptability of the whole system. Other adaptogen herbs are ginseng and astragalus. Maca has been used traditionally to increase energy and to promote improvement in both stamina and endurance in athletes. Unlike caffeine, Maca is a healthy choice for increasing energy because it is not a stimulant. The steady enhancement of both physical and mental energy makes Maca an ideal supplement for students, professionals, writers, athletes and anyone who needs a lift. The fact that Maca contains no stimulants but obtains its benefit from vitamins and minerals makes it especially beneficial for individuals who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Many people who use Maca also report increased mental clarity.

    The Indians who first used Maca believed it to be a significant fertility aid for both animals and humans. This explains why Maca is often described as an aphrodisiac. Aphrodisiac or not, it may be used to address hormonal imbalances in women. Maca offers a natural solution to symptoms of both PMS and menopause. Calcium and magnesium are well known for their beneficial efforts on the female endocrine system. Maca is a good source of both of these important minerals and is a very rich source of iodine which is also important for the endocrine system primarily due to its effect on the thyroid. Further reports indicate that Maca may improve male impotence.

    Maca is naturally a great source of iodine - One thing that is noteworthy is its rich iodine content. This suggests that Maca would be a good herbal therapy for those who have thyroid insufficiency. It has been suggested that some that suffer from symptoms such as dry skin, deep fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, or depression are actually suffering form hypothyroidism and that they improve when given either thyroid hormone alone, or a program that combines thyroid hormone with nutritional support. Along with selenium, magnesium, tyrosine, herbs like Maca that are rich in iodine are sometimes able to restore normal thyroid function. The connection of thyroid insufficiencies to female reproductive issues can not be overlooked. Early medical textbooks and journal articles mention the effectiveness in thyroid supplementation in relieving gynecological disturbances. Normal thyroid function promotes conception, corrects disorders of menstrual flow and assists the body in producing better levels of follicle stimulating hormone. The thyroid supporting capacity of Maca probably explains its ability to enhance fertility and bring relief to women who suffer with symptoms of menopause.

    Maca has no harmful stimulant activity such as that from caffeine or ephedra. Ideal for marathoners, martial arts enthusiasts, weary travelers, and those who maintain intense work schedules.

    Linda
    dx pcos 1984, type II diabetes 2001, also hypertension
    Met 2000mg since 2001, started Glucophage XR 4/22/04, then switched to Met ER 6/04; also: multi, Vit. C, Vit. E, B12/folic acid combo, fish oil & borage oil combo, garlic capsules, cinnamon, Vitex, calcium with magnesium/zinc, biotin, CoQ10, selenium,iron
    Other meds: Verapamil and Altace(for blood pressure)
    Started laser hair removal 7/29/03, completed 3/04 (it works!)
    UAE for fibroid 3/24/03 and 3/16/04

  4. #4
    Canadian Cyster bethers's Avatar
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    Very interesting.
    I'm not too keen on the steroid-like effect though.
    TTC #1 since Feb. 2004
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    Registered User Emmanuelle's Avatar
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    I don't know what glycoside steroids are but it seems to me that if women are finding maca effective for menopausal and menstrual complaints, that maca doesn't really introduce steroids in the body, but balances steroidal hormones.

    I've read that DHEA, progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are all steroid hormones. When we think of steroids, we usually think of chemical drugs used by athletes but the fact of the matter is that female bodies produce steroid hormones.

    Concerning the iodine content, it could be a problem for certain people with acne who are very sensitive to iodine but don't forget that maca is a food and not an isolated nutrient. We do get iodine in foods from table salt, milk, fish, seaweed and many other sources. So I guess the best way to know if it works is to try it out. I'm trying to find more information about it concerning pcos and if it's ever been used for that problem.

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    Registered User brandalls's Avatar
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    Hmmm, well here's 2 abstracts from pubmed about the effects of maca on males' hormone levels (why is it always about males' hormones?)

    1st
    Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. This study was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with a placebo. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that Maca has no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels in apparently healthy men when administered in doses used for aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. Men aged between 21 and 56 Years received 1500 mg or 3000 mg Maca. Serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone and 17-beta estradiol were measured before and at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment with placebo or Maca (1.5 g or 3.0 g per day). Data showed that compared with placebo Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time. Multiple regression analysis showed that serum testosterone levels were not affected by treatment with Maca at any of the times studied (P, not significant). In conclusion, treatment with Maca does not affect serum reproductive hormone levels.

    2nd

    This study was a 12-week double blind placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with placebo. The study aimed to demonstrate if effect of Maca on subjective report of sexual desire was because of effect on mood or serum testosterone levels. Men aged 21-56 years received Maca in one of two doses: 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg or placebo. Self-perception on sexual desire, score for Hamilton test for depression, and Hamilton test for anxiety were measured at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment. An improvement in sexual desire was observed with Maca since 8 weeks of treatment. Serum testosterone and oestradiol levels were not different in men treated with Maca and in those treated with placebo (P:NS). Logistic regression analysis showed that Maca has an independent effect on sexual desire at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, and this effect is not because of changes in either Hamilton scores for depression or anxiety or serum testosterone and oestradiol levels. In conclusion, treatment with Maca improved sexual desire.

    Anyway, the reason I think these might be significant is that if they do not throw healthy males' hormones out of balance then they (possibly) shouldn't throw female hormones out of balance. As for the hypothalamus/pituitary this statement should in general hold up, but I'm not as familiar with how PCOS affects either (you know, which came first the chicken or the egg and how much do the cysts affect the pituitary vs the pit affecting the cysts). I'm still new to PCOS, but I would think that it is does indeed provide balance.
    29 yo
    dh: 32 yo

    will be TTC spring 2005
    Dx: 6/29/04
    Tx: prometrium, clomid (when we start TTC), Omega 3-6, Chromium polynicotinate, prenatal vitamins, acidophilus, lidocaine (for VVS), Wt Loss, Exercise

    Wt: 180
    Goal: 125

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    Registered User Emmanuelle's Avatar
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    Those are interesting studies brandalls which kind of confirms what I thought...that maca balances hormones instead of increasing them for no reason.

    In the studies, the men used were all healthy so if hormones in healthy males are functioning optimally, maca shouldn't increase or decrease testosterone. So when they say, " in conclusion, treatment with maca does not affect serum reproductive hormones "....yes but they used healthy individuals. If they had used men with low testosterone levels or high testosterone levels, maca would have probably shown a normalizing effect on the hormones.

    Maca is an adaptogen and these substances are used to rebalance the body...if the body is in a perfect state of balance in a healthy individual, then the effects of the adaptogen will not be as great as in a body when there are multiple imbalances.

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    Registered User brandalls's Avatar
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    I realized when I emphasized those points that it seemed like I didn't think it would work, but I was actually drawing the same conclusions you did I was hoping my last paragraph would clarify, but evidently it didn't. I think I'll go back and unemphasize them as it does seem to be a bit confusing as to what my point was.

    I agree though, I think it has a stabalizing effect on the hormones rather than just an increasing effect.
    29 yo
    dh: 32 yo

    will be TTC spring 2005
    Dx: 6/29/04
    Tx: prometrium, clomid (when we start TTC), Omega 3-6, Chromium polynicotinate, prenatal vitamins, acidophilus, lidocaine (for VVS), Wt Loss, Exercise

    Wt: 180
    Goal: 125

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    Registered User smma's Avatar
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    Default Whats the difference between Maca & Vitex???

    They both wort on the Pituitary Gland, regulating hormones. So, what does Maca do that Vitex does not do? I am very spectacle about this becasue Vitex really messed my cycles.
    Na'na

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    Google Junkie nobimbo's Avatar
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    I wanted to share some info I got from a woman on another board who is somewhat of a thyroid expert (she has had Hashi's for 13 years, and counsels thyroid patients) about Maca:

    The subject of Maca root for meno symptoms is an ongoing article of discussion on the about.com thyroid disease site, and we with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism do NOT use it. We also don't use: echinacea, and other 'immune system" touted suppplements. We have found that maca root can bind the thyroid hormones much like soy can....makes them unusable at the cellular level. So...we have found that black current oil works much the same as maca, but doesn't bind the hormones...because it has a different phytoestrogen base.

    I happen to know several of us from the about.com forums (with great insurance) who tried maca and had thyroid test/labs and saw a decrease of T3 within 30 days of taking maca....we quit, did labs, than did it again...same thing. I really think it may be a YMMV type of thing. Sorry I can't find any sources for you....of course it's used by women...not rats or mice, so I dont know if there are any, lol.


    Linda
    dx pcos 1984, type II diabetes 2001, also hypertension
    Met 2000mg since 2001, started Glucophage XR 4/22/04, then switched to Met ER 6/04; also: multi, Vit. C, Vit. E, B12/folic acid combo, fish oil & borage oil combo, garlic capsules, cinnamon, Vitex, calcium with magnesium/zinc, biotin, CoQ10, selenium,iron
    Other meds: Verapamil and Altace(for blood pressure)
    Started laser hair removal 7/29/03, completed 3/04 (it works!)
    UAE for fibroid 3/24/03 and 3/16/04

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