Maca, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, is a mustard family plant that grows in the Bolivian Andes Mountains. Throughout the years, maca root has been used as a food source. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the maca root is valued for its medicinal properties, such as enhanced sexual drive and fertility. Additional reported benefits include improved energy, mental function and hormonal imbalance functions. Research on the effects of maca root is ongoing. However, there are side effects associated with maca root consumption.
Increased Blood Pressure
In 2008, an article in the “Food and Chemical Toxicology” journal reported that maca root can cause a subtle increase in diastolic blood pressure. The study examined the effects of maca and another Andes perennial plant on patients with metabolic syndrome. According to mayoclinic.com, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increases a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. At the conclusion, researchers noted that the blood pressure increase could be countered by taking the flavonoid complex silymarin in combination with maca root.
Maca root naturally contains more glucosinolates than broccoli or cabbage. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that these organic compounds may contribute to the plant’s fertility enhancing effects. In addition, large doses of glucosinolates can cause the thyroid to enlarge. As a result, people with thyroid conditions or diseases should not use maca root. Drugs.com notes that thyroid complication side effects are increased in people with a low iodine diet.
According to the New York University Langone Medical Center, maca root can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Signs of an allergic reaction include troubled breathing, rash, hives, swollen patches of skin, chest pain and tightness in the chest or throat. Consult with a physician before starting any new herbal or drug regimen.