Search Google for ‘Maca libido’ and you’ll find pages of results which describe the root of the Maca plant (Lepidium peruvianum Chacón), which hails from the Peruvian Andes, as “Peru’s Natural Viagra”. Quite a sensational claim, but surprisingly there is some hard scientific research which points to a link between taking a Maca supplement and an increased libido or sex drive.

The link between maca and sexual desire dates back to the Incan empire. Inca warriors are thought to have taken dried Maca root powder before going in to battle to increase their strength and endurance. However, legend has it that the warriors were then banned from taking Maca once they had conquered a city for fear that the sexual drive and fierce libidinous impulses that the root created in them would cause them to attack the women of the conquered city. The veracity of the legend is questionable, of course, but the fact remains that in Peru there will always be a link between Maca and increased sex drive.

Since more people around the world have started taking Maca powder or Maca capsules as a natural food supplement for a number of different health benefits, scientists, nutritionists and natural health experts have been trying to establish a more scientific and less anecdotal link between Maca and libido. In 1998, Dr Qun Yi Zheng of PureWorld Botanicals found that Maca is made up of 10% protein, nearly 60% carbohydrate and some fatty acids, but he also found that it contained compounds called macamides and macaenes, both of which are agents that, after thorough testing, were thought to be behind the Maca libido link.

Since Dr Zheng’s initial research, there have been a number of scientific tests on both animals (mice and rats) and humans that seem to back up a connection between taking Maca and increased sexual desire and/or function. The ‘Urology’ study of 2000 found that providing Maca supplements “led to a tripling of sexual activity of mice”, while the ‘J Ethnopharmacol’ study of 2001 stated that Maca was shown to ““significantly improve sexual performance parameters in male rats”. The ‘Andrologia’ study of 2002 was a placebo-controlled trial of humans which “demonstrated Maca’s ability to increase sexual desire in men aged 21 to 56.”

While Maca has fervent fans around the world who swear by this natural supplement for a whole host of benefits, having sound scientific research which goes some way to support the claims of Maca as a libido-booster (or “natural Viagra”) is sure to attract yet more fans.