Marketed as the "super food of the Andes," maca root is a dehydrated cruciferous root vegetable that has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 10,000 years. Today, maca root is sold in pharmacies and health and wellness stores, usually in capsulated powder form. It is marketed as an herbal supplement that helps increase energy, physical stamina, sexual drive and fertility. It is also touted for having a positive impact on the immune system. Maca root is generally considered safe. However, some side effects have been noted, and before taking it, you should consult your physician--especially if you have any health issues.
Maca root is said to contain more than 55 phytochemicals including hormonal precursors and sterols, which may lead to increased libido and stamina. Because it can alter a person's hormonal levels, this herb can lead to hormonal imbalance. Some women, for instance, have reported acne breakouts, water retention or bloating, mood swings and hot flushes when taking maca supplements. Other noted side effects, which are most probably related to hormonal imbalance, include upset stomach, headaches, heartburn and increased heart rate.
Some people find that hormonal symptoms such as acne breakouts and bloating may actually be relieved with the help of maca root because it stabilises hormone levels. Some have reported that their skin cleared up with continued use of this supplement. In other cases, side effects such as increased sexual drive may be seen as an unwanted side effect; someone taking maca root for hormonal symptoms may not desire the increased libido.
While maca root is generally beneficial for users with thyroid problems, individuals suffering from Hashimoto's hypothyroidism are encouraged to avoid maca root and use black currant oil instead. According to user feedback posted on SoulCysters.net, maca root can bind thyroid hormones, making them unstable at the cellular level in the case of individuals with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism.
The raw maca root contains the chemical glucosinolate, which is known to be a direct or indirect cause of goitre. According to SkinCareTalk.com, when the glucosinolate in maca root is combined with a low-sodium diet, it can increase the development of goitre.
As with any drug or food type, some people are allergic to the maca root and may develop rashes, itchiness, hives, redness of skin and fatigue after it has been digested. Any allergic reactions should be reported to your physician so quick corrective action can be taken.