Maca also known as Peruvian ginseng is one among the many herbs that are used to treat various ailments but are not tested scientifically.
However, the herb that is being used as a staple food by Peruvians for 2000 years is considered safe without any adverse reactions. It is a cruciferous vegetable that is similar to turnip.
This Peruvian root vegetable is used to alleviate symptoms of menopause treat infertility, osteoporosis and also as an aphrodisiac. Here is an overview of use of maca for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a bone diseases characterized by weak bones that become fragile due to reduced bone mass and bone tissue.
It increases the risk of bone fractures especially those of the wrist, spine and hip. It is generally observed in old age people especially in women close to menopause.
It develops due to poor bone formation due to calcium deficiency, hormonal imbalance or due to poor ability of the body to absorb calcium.
In few people, osteoporosis develops due to increased use of corticosteroids. Patients suffering with osteoporosis develop sharp pain in the spine and lower back that generally persists for about a week to months.
To prevent complications, it is essential to treat the conditions immediately. Herbal remedies such as use of maca are found promising in treatment of osteoporosis.
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Constituents of maca
It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It possesses high amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and silica.
The best part these minerals can be assimilated in to the body easily. It is also a rich source of proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates and fiber.
Because of high fiber content few people report increased gas formation after they start using maca for the first time.
It also contains compounds named as glucosinolates and many other phytosterols that are responsible for medicinal properties of the herb. Slight bitter taste of the root is due to the presence of these glucosinolates.
How maca acts to treat osteoporosis?
Components present in maca normalize the functioning of the endocrine system and bring about balance in hormone levels secreted by these glands. It increases the secretion of the hormone estrogen that plays role in promoting bone health.
The high calcium content of root is also considered to improve the bone health. The cumulative effect of estrogen and the calcium content is assumed to treat osteoporosis.
A study conducted in Huazhong University of Science & Technology, China feeding ovarectomized rats with ethanol extract of maca prevented onset of osteoporosis.
Maca extract improved the bone mineral density in the rats despite of deficiency of estrogen due to removal of ovaries. Thus, it can be said that maca treats osteoporosis by improving estrogen levels in women and testosterone levels in men. However, there are no scientific studies on humans to prove the action of maca on bone health.
Benefits of maca for osteoporosis
Improves estrogen and testosterone levels: With increasing age, the levels of estrogen and testosterone reduce in men and women.
This in turn results in osteoporosis. Maca that nourishes the endocrine glands improves the secretion of these sex hormones in men and women and prevents osteoporosis.
Provides essential calcium: Sufficient amount of calcium is essential to maintain good bone health. Maca is a rich source of calcium. The best part is the calcium of the root is readily available.
Improves bone density: The high mineral content of the herb helps improve the mineral density of the bones.
Shrinks the pores of the bones: Regular use of maca shrinks the size of bones in osteoporosis pateints.
This was proven in an experiment conducted on rats by the Chinese scientist Yong-Zhong zhang in 2006. In the study he found that rats fed with maca exhibited faster bone regeneration than those given estradiol.
Free of side effects: Extensive use of hormones causes side effects that may aggravate further bone loss. Maca treats osteoporosis without causing any side effects. It is also less expensive compared to the expensive hormone replacements.
Side effects of using maca for osteoporosis
High concentration of glucosinolates present in maca cause goiter if used by people suffering with iodine deficiency.
Goiter characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland reduces the levels of thyroid hormone secreted by the gland. This in turn disturbs other metabolic activities of the body.
Who should not use maca ?
- Pregnant and nursing women.
- People suffering with problems of liver.
- People with iodine deficiency.
- Individuals with history of allergic reactions to root vegetables.
It should be remembered that maca should not be used as a supplement to regular medications as osteoporosis is a serious bone conditions that debilitates life.
In few cases it even increases the risk of death. Hence, always consult with your physician before using maca for osteoporosis.
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