Maca scientifically named as Lepedium Meyennii Walp grows at high elevations in South America where the climatic conditions are harsh with poor oxygen availability. The plant is commonly named as maca-maca, ayak chichira or ayak willku. The herb is being used by Peruvians since 2000 years to improve mental activity, boost energy levels and sexual drive. They take about half a pound of this vegetable daily. Maca root is primarily known for its ability to alter the functioning of endocrine glands whose secretions play major role in controlling mood swings. Because of this ability the root is extensively used in regulating anxiety and depression. However, there is no supportive scientific evidence.
Anxiety disorders that generally develop due to physical or mental illnesses should be addressed immediately to prevent it from worsening. Some of the commonly observed anxiety disorders and their symptoms include:
- Panic disorder: severe sweating, dizziness, sudden attack of terrors.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder: obsessive thoughts and extensive use of certain rituals to overcome the thoughts.
- Post traumatic stress disorder: Become panic and violent easily, emotional numbness, aggressiveness and disliking being with people.
- Social phobia: nausea, sweating and inability to speak in group.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Trouble completing the regular activities, fatigue, muscle tension and headaches.
These disorders can often be treated with appropriate medications. But, anti-anxiety drugs may result in unpleasant side effects. On the other hand few people need multiple treatments to overcome anxiety disorders. It is possible to treat anxiety disorders without the risk of side effects using herbs such as Maca.
How maca acts to treat anxiety?
- Maca is a nutritious herb containing aminoacids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients boost the energy levels, endurance and stimulate the functioning of the brain that helps in controlling the anxiety disorders by alleviating the mood swings.
- Phosphorus, calcium and vitamins B2 and B1 contained in maca root promote muscle health and calm the nerves.
- Alkaloids contained in the root promote proper assimilation of all the nutrients in to the cells of the body.
Using maca for anxiety
The root can be used directly as a vegetable similar to potatoes. It can be cooked, made in to a paste and can also be added to milk. In fact, it is a part of staple diet in Peru.
Maca root is available in the market in the form of powder, pills or in the form of syrup. They can be taken directly, used as salad dressing, added to a smoothie, shakes or to a fresh juice. To prevent the risk of side effects while using maca it is recommended to consult the physician to know the correct dosage.
Precautions to be followed while using maca root
- Pregnant and nursing women and those allergic to root vegetables should consult the physician before using the herb.
- Dosage of the herb being taken should be kept within the safe limit of three tablespoons per day. Never increase the dosage without physician’s guidance.
- Use organically cultivated maca to prevent the risk of pesticides.
- Take off of about a week after using the root for a month. This will allow the body to assimilate the nutrients as well as to get rid of the unwanted waste out of the body.
- Never self diagnose anxiety disorders and start using the medications. Always consult the physician before using the herb for appropriate diagnosis and to know the right dosage.
Lastly, use of maca for treatment of anxiety disorders is considered beneficial over anti-anxiety drugs as it is less expensive and a safe natural way.