Anxiety disorders are characterized by an unpleasant state of mind and are often accompanied by nervousness and overwhelming fear.
According to a survey by Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from anxiety that is, about 18% of nation’s population.
The survey by World Health Organization shows that globally one in thirteen people suffer from anxiety.
What is Maca?
Maca scientifically named as Lepedium Meyennii Walp grows at high elevations in South America where the climatic conditions are harsh with poor oxygen availability.
Read: Health Benefits of Maca
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.
The presence of all these qualities in maca has also been found to be beneficial in triggering weight loss and hence prevent obesity and associated risk diseases.
Let’s see how this root vegetable is beneficial for dealing with anxiety and its symptoms.
Maca root is primarily known for its ability to alter the functioning of endocrine glands whose secretions play a 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 a 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 Can Maca Help People with Anxiety and Stress?
Maca can help in people coping with anxiety and stress in several ways. Maca can help in promoting sleep which can help ease anxiety and stress. It helps in providing energy and fights side effects of anxiety and stress such as memory loss. Maca can also reduce psychological symptoms in menopause.
1. Maca consumption helps to promote sleep
A study conducted on an animal model revealed the sedative (sleep-inducing) effects of maca.
It was observed that consumption of maca twice a day resulted in inducing calmness in the activities of animal model, thereby promoting sleep.
Maca helps to decrease the blood-cortisol levels in the body.Cortisol is hormones that are secreted by the adrenal glands of the body that help to deal with stress.
However, the results found were only for ovariectomized (removal of ovaries) model mimicking postmenopausal phase. No such effects have been observed in the normal model.
Thus the theoretical evidence is yet to be found on this.
What does this mean?
The sedative effect of maca is due to the decrease in the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream that deals with stress and induces sleep.
2. Maca consumption helps to reduce psychological symptoms in menopause
According to a study conducted on postmenopausal women, it was found that maca consumption led to significant decrease in many psychological symptoms.
It was observed that consuming 3.5gram of maca per day reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety apart from lowering the measures of sexual dysfunction.
This can be attributed to the positive effect of maca on the functioning of the endocrine gland.
Endocrine glands release certain hormones that are beneficial in alleviating mood swings, which in turn helps to deal with stress and anxiety.
However, these are only experimental details, and no theoretical evidence has been found yet.
What does this mean?
Consumption of maca helps in the reduction of psychological symptoms thereby helping one cope with anxiety and stress. It acts on hormones that help in alleviating mood swings.
3. Maca helps to enhance memory
Anxiety disorders can cause one to suffer from memory loss, confusion and also makes it difficult for a person to concentrate.
It has been found in a study conducted on an animal model that consumption of maca helps in improving memory impairment.
This improvement in memory also helps to deal with stress and anxiety related disorders.
The effect to some extent is attributed to the presence of antioxidant and anticholinesterase inhibitors in maca.
As in inhibits cholinesterase inhibitors, it helps to protect the cognitive memory and prevent neurodegenerative disorders.
Its exact effects and the theoretical aspects of the way in which it deals with memory loss is still under study.
What does this mean?
Maca helps to enhance the memory thereby helping one to cope up with stress and anxiety disorders.
4. Maca acts as an energizer to the body
Maca consumption has been found to be beneficial in providing energy to the body as per a study conducted on humans.
This can be attributed to the presence of many beneficial amino acids, carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
The presence of these nutrients helps to enhance energy, improves the body metabolism and stimulates the functioning of the brain.
This, in turn, promotes one to work well and hence help in coping up with stress and anxiety.
What does this mean?
The consumption of maca provides energy to the body to deal with stress and anxiety. This is because of the presence of essential nutrients in it.
Maca Dosage and Using for Anxiety
The standard dosage for maca is 1,500-3,000mg per kg.
Either roots or extract of maca should be consumed.
About 3 to 9 grams (1 to 3 tablespoons) a day is the recommended dosage of gelatinized maca.
The root can be used directly as a vegetable similar to potatoes. It can be cooked, made into a paste and can also be added to milk. In fact, it is a part of the 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.
- 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.
In the end...
Maca has become a superfood across the world due to its amazing benefits on our body.
Apart from helping to boost fertility, enhancing bone density, maintaining blood-glucose levels, triggering weight loss, it’s also beneficial in dealing with anxiety.
Maca helps to promote sleep and reduce anxiety symptoms by acting on the cortisol hormones that help to deal with stress.
Also, it provides other benefits to cope up with anxiety which includes improving memory and providing energy to the body to do work.
Hence consuming Maca at prescribed amounts has been found to be quite beneficial for anxiety relief.