Maca Side Effects

Maca is a root vegetable belonging to the mustard family.

This radish like root vegetable grows extensively in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

The root of maca plant looks a little radish and has a slight sweet and sharp taste. It smells close to butterscotch.

Four different varieties of maca are observed in Peru the black, red, purple and cream varieties. Peruvians have been using Maca for the past 2000 years for its medicinal value.

The amino acids, alkaloids and fatty acids contained in the root offer numerous health benefits such as improving strength, fertility and sexual libido. However, inappropriate or extensive use of maca causes certain side effects.

Possible Maca side effects

Use of maca in limited amounts is generally safe. But use of higher dosage for prolonged periods causes certain side effects. Here are some general side effects observed:

  • Goiter: Glucosinolates are a group of compounds present in maca. Prolonged intake of glucosinolates causes swelling of the thyroid gland. They may also alter the functioning of the gland causing goiter and associated symptoms such as difficulty to swallow, hoarse voice, swelling at the neck region and difficulty to breathe. Intake of iodine deficiency diet while using the maca vegetable increases the risk of Goiter.
  • Altered functioning of the brain and central nervous system: High dosage of maca influences the functioning of the brain causing headaches, insomnia and mood swings. Hence, people suffering with migraine headaches or sleeplessness should consult the physician before using maca supplements.
  • Allergy: Sensitive people who often suffer with allergies may develop allergic reactions with maca. It causes symptoms such as rashes, itching of the skin, difficulty to breath, pain and tightness of the chest region.maca side effects
  • Drug interactions: Interacts with drugs such as blood thinners, pain killers such as ibuprofen, anti-coagulants and birth control medications. It also interacts with the herbs such as St. John’s Wart.
  • Gastro intestinal disturbances: Enzymes contained in the root disturb the normal digestion process causing diarrhea, flatulence and bloating. Intake of fresh maca causes stomach pain.
  • Other side effects: Due to increased brain activity people using maca supplements often suffer with insomnia, drastic changes in mood and hot flashes.

Possible Maca side effects in women

  • Fastens the ovulation process by stimulating the production of essential hormones.
  • Severe pain before menstruation.
  • Irregular menstrual cycle if taken for a long period.
  • Facial hair growth, baldness, resistance to insulin and uterine or breast cancer may also be observed in few women.

Possible Maca side effects in men include decrease in Sexual libido if the root is taken in large amounts.

Other maca side effects: In addition to the above listed symptoms hot flashes, fatigue, hypertension, heart burn, increased heart rate and indigestion may be observed in few patients.

As maca side effects vary from patient to patient it is highly recommended to consult the physician before using Maca for any of its health benefits.

Who should not take Maca?

In view of maca side effects people suffering with certain medical conditions should not take maca.

  • People suffering with thyroid disorders should avoid using this root vegetable.
  • Pregnant and nursing women.
  • Patients suffering with hormonal disorders, liver and kidney diseases.
  • People taking pain killers, anti-coagulants, blood thinners and birth control pills.
  • Children.

Safe dosage of Maca

There is actually no scientifically proven dosage limit. Taking 500 mg of maca thrice a day is generally considered safe.  To prevent side effects it is recommended to take a week off and then continue using the herb.

Stop using maca supplements if any of the maca side effects are observed and consult the physician immediately to prevent complications. Care should be taken to read the labels while purchasing the supplements as certain pills contain 1000 mg per dosage.

13 Comments

  1. I had an allergic reaction (hives) when I tried maca, but I don’t often suffer from allergies. Actually, this is the only allergy I have (that I know of) in 36 years. I should note too that I was not taking supplement pills, but rather 1 tsp. with my oatmeal of dried, powered, raw maca from a reputable brand.

    1. It’s so strange. I had the exact, same reaction and no other known allergies. well, except for wasp stings. Im shocked I broke out in a rash. Did it twice, and I’m positive it’s the maca.

      1. I have a hives rash on my chest since using Navitas Naturals maca. I also started a green drink at the same time but no reports of anyone having a rash from the greens drink. I like the energy maca gives so been taking it anyway for now. Getting tired of the itchy rash though.

      2. Hey Karen,
        Did you decide to stop using Maca?
        I woke up with sore/tenderness around my neck and Maca’s been the only addition to my diet.
        I was hoping I had another superfood in my routine!

    2. I have a hives rash on my chest since using Navitas Naturals maca. I also started a green drink at the same time but no reports of a rash from the greens drink. I like the energy maca gives so been taking it anyway for now. Getting tired of the itchy rash though.

  2. Thank you! Seriously! I got an allergic reaction a month ago. I needed to go to the hospital due to my other known allergies. I didn’t want to take a chance by staying at home. After a month of investigation, I realize by reading your post that my reaction was probably cause by the mix of the St-John’s Wort and Ibuprofen I took the night before and the Maca that I took that morning. They should write this information on the bottle!

  3. I am confused – some websites claim that Maca (1) aids hair regrowth in both men and women, and yet others (such as this one) claim that it can cause baldness in women, and (2) some claim it can help with heart arrhythmia while others say it can cause an irregular heartbeat. How can facts be so diametrically opposed and what is the truth?

  4. Seriously? I’m taking Maca to reduce my hot flashes and it works like nothing else I’ve tried (and I’ve literally tried everything!). I cannot believe how well it works actually. It also delays my cycle, which I like because I have hormone induced migraines and the maca gives me more time in between them. I have closer to a 35-40 day cycle now. I get a migraine at ovulation and again at the start of my period so maca is helping with that.. The information on this page contradicts everything I’m experiencing. I do get chest pain every once in awhile but that’s it. I’m sure it’s from the maca because I go off of it every 30-40 days for a week and then I get random chest pains the first few days back on it. It’s not a big deal though. I just eat a tums and it goes away. For reference, the dose I take is 1/2 teaspoon of the red maca powder in a smoothie or oatmeal every morning.

  5. not like anyone is going to respond to this…but I have been a big fan of maca for years. I have taken maca long term (at 3,000 mg per day) to relieve sexual dysfunction associated with anti-depressants. It has definitely helped amp up my sexual response! But I do experience fatigue and headache after using it for a few months so I am thinking possibly just I will stop taking it for a week or something like that.

    1. I just started and am experiencing severe headaches. Mostly triggered at orgasm……its the weirdest thing. Think I’m gonna stop. The first one happened last week and it was debilitating, couldn’t go to work and scared me so much I was close to going to er.

  6. Has anyone experienced a sore throat after taking Maca? I started to add it into smoothies and on day 3 have noticed my sore throat (which arrived yesterday) is getting worse. It now hurts to swallow. I plan to stop taking it for three days and see if it is this, but am keen to know if anyone else has experienced this? I am generally healthy, so wasn’t expecting this..

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