While I want to live far into old age, one of my biggest fears is to find myself old and alive, but not well. I dread the idea of living long enough to watch my grandkids grow up, but being unable to happily interact with them and impart my hard-earned life lessons.
So I’m constantly looking for things that extend life, while also promoting vitality. Living longer itself is great, but living longer in a vital, energetic way is even better.
Recently, I’ve come across a medicinal plant called maca that research has shown to contain a vitalizing and life-extending cocktail of chemicals. The plant has long been a traditional herbal remedy and food staple in the Andes mountains of Peru. Warriors of old are said to have eaten large amounts of it before going into battle. As new studies come out, science is backing up the herbalists’ claims that the plant has anti-cancer, hormonal balancing, and virility-bringing powers.
Scientists have studied the chemical makeup of maca and have shown that it’s full of antioxidants. If you read How to Live a Longer Life often, you’re familiar with the anti-cancer properties of antioxidants.
Oxidation of the cells is what causes our cells to age; sometimes oxidation can cause regular cells to go into massive replication, creating cancerous tumors. Free radicals are the cause of this oxidation, and antioxidants act as free radical scavengers. They absorb the free radicals and keep them from hurting cells. Maca’s array of antioxidants is the scientific basis for its anti-cancer and life-extending properties.
Maca also balances out hormones in both men and women. The root has been used traditionally to ease menopausal symptoms, and researches have found a scientific basis for these claims.
In animal studies, maca kept female animals from developing post-menopausal osteoporosis, which is caused by estrogen deficiencies. Beyond these bone-helping properties, balancing estrogen levels can ease the mood swings associated with menopause and lead to feeling more emotionally and mentally balanced.
For men, as mentioned before, maca acts as a virility booster. Doses of maca have increased sperm count and testicle size in animals. If you’re having trouble conceiving, or simply want to take a natural aphrodisiac, consider getting some maca.
Maca root extract is relatively cheap and can be bought online in both pill and powder form. Buying it in powder is more economical; a one-pound bag can be purchased for around $20 from herbal and nutritional stores.
The recommended dose is 500-1000 mg three times daily, so be sure to take this into account when you’re buying pills. An upside of the pills is that the powder has a strong, earthy odor that some might not like. I usually take the powder in a glass of orange juice or some other very flavorful beverage, and this mostly masks the smell. If you don’t have a scale, 1000 mg of maca is approximately half a teaspoon.
While people will shell out hundreds of dollars for prescription drugs to increase virility or ease menopausal symptoms, maca acts as a “neutraceutical” with similar effects, at a fraction of the price. And, there are no known side effects. And it also has life-extending properties.
So, mix that powder into your orange juice, ignore the earthy odor, and enjoy your old age.
Joy Paley is a blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer specializing in phlebotomist careers for Guide to Healthcare Schools.