In this post, I will tell you all about the maca root and its magical properties for correcting hormonal imbalances. I will also provide you with 2 very easy maca recipes to help you include it daily. A little goes a long way!
I was driving from work one day, and had trouble breathing from the pain. My cramps were out of control. I forgot to take my Ibuprofen with me. I used to take 10 pills of it in 1 day every first day of my period. The pain was mind-blowing. I stopped the car along the side of a busy road. My intention was to rest for a minute on the curb. I wanted to avoid a car accident.
As soon as I unbuckled my seat belt, I passed out straight onto the busy road. I woke up bleeding, with a woman standing over me screaming, “are you ok?” I was confused, and the next thing I saw was the ambulance. At this point, I was throwing up on the side of the road. I tried to tell them, “It’s just my period, that is how it is every month”. They couldn’t believe it.
In this article, I want to talk about sneaky symptoms that we may have in our bodies, and where they may come from. If you have some physical or emotional issues that are mysterious and unexplained, stay tuned!
I will tell you my story of hormonal imbalance. Then I’ll explain the differences between symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women and men. Lastly, I’ll show you how maca can be a safe and effective way to guide your body to balance. I will then share two of my favorite and most delicious maca recipes with you, so you can start incorporating it right now!
Every single month since I was 15 years old, for 1 day, I was disabled. I had to keep the Ibuprofen with me at all times, especially since that almost fatal incident I just told you about. Before 15, my periods were calm, unnoticeable even. They came and went.
When I changed my diet to raw veganism, my symptoms greatly improved, but they did not go away. It was so depressing to me, because I believed I was doing everything I could to achieve better health, but better health was not coming.
It took me many years to research and understand the causes. This painful period made me take countless days off of work and lay in bed in agony. I always had an intuition that certain events in my life, occurring right around 15, were impacting this.
My life changed drastically when I was 15 years old. An 18-year-old boyfriend raped me. A few years later, I went to the psychologist. She told me that I had PTSD. I had no clue what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was, but when I learned about it, I was ecstatic. It helped me understand myself and my behaviors better. I realized that seemingly strange thoughts and behaviors of mine were happening for a reason.
PTSD and Hormonal Imbalance
There is a close connection between the emotional and physical parts of our bodies. My hormones are intimately connected to the events that made me go to war with being a woman. Emotional trauma caused physical imbalance. PTSD caused my female hormones to be unbalanced.
Many studies have confirmed that there is a connection between hormonal imbalance and PTSD. During a thermography screening, I was told that I had too much estrogen in my body. I remembered that, but didn’t pay much attention. Until I started reading and analyzing, making the clear connection between PTSD, my estrogen levels, and my horrible cramps.
You must be frustrated with me right now. Perhaps you are suffering from cramps, or other symptoms that are confusing to you, mysterious even. Well, don’t lose hope just yet, because I am about to tell you some facts and solutions that you can try to feel balanced, back to yourself again!
What are Hormonal Imbalances?
Many women and men suffer from hormonal imbalance, so much so that we are not even aware of what our bodies feel like when we are balanced. We might think of hormonal issues as they relate to aging, but perhaps many of us are not aware that hormonal imbalances can happen at any age. The average age for hormonal imbalances is 35 for both women and men.
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system. They impact nearly every function in the body, such as metabolism, appetite, sleep, cell growth and repair, fertility and reproduction, as well as emotional health and more. Hormone imbalance can cause symptoms that effect a person’s emotional and physical health, and they differ slightly between the sexes. Poor diet and lack of exercise drives these, and they can get worse over time. Because hormonal imbalance sets in gradually, it is very hard to tell it’s there from the onset.
Symptom Differences Between the Sexes
Women who suffer from hormonal imbalances can experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, PMS and irregular periods, headaches and migraines, emotional instability, irritability, depression, and anxiety. They can also experience things like forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, feeling lightheaded, random weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, pain and stiffness in the joints, heart palpitations and abdominal bloating. They can get oily skin and acne, or very dry and flaky skin, hair thinning or increased growth of hair, virginal dryness or pain during intercourse.
Men may experience decline in sex drive and difficulty achieving an erection, loss of muscle, endurance and energy, weight gain in the abdomen, depression, trouble concentrating, lowered self-confidence, irritability, anger, high blood pressure and cholesterol, joint pain and stiffness, sleep apnea, insomnia, and hair loss and urinary issues.
As you can see, these symptoms cover almost every single bodily function simply because hormones impact almost all of our bodily functions. These symptoms and many more also lead to clinical conditions like allergies, cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, and more.
Testing for Hormonal Imbalance
Your doctor can test you for hormonal imbalance. You can also get tested using functional diagnostics like the Adrenal Stress Index, hormone panels, sensitivity testing (to see whether you are sensitive or allergic to certain foods), and blood panels. Testing for hormonal imbalance must be very comprehensive and include many facets of your physical and emotional health.
There are also wonderful starter tools online, though you should not fully rely on these for definitive answers. An example of such a test can be found here.
Restoring Hormonal Balance
Proper treatment and the help of some incredible superfoods can correct hormonal imbalance. There are many supplements and herbs that can restore hormones. Each herb will work differently for each person’s unique physiology.
But here, I want to address a superfood that worked for me in restoring my hormonal balance. It has made a difference in my internal feeling of calmness. It also lessened my painful periods. And that superfood is maca. Now of course, taking Maca without changing your lifestyle, exercise, and outlook on life will probably not accomplish what you are looking for. But if those things are in place, maca will be a powerful help in getting you back to health.
The Health Benefits of Maca
Maca, or Peruvian ginseng, is a perfect superfood to add to your regimen, because unlike prescription drugs, it does not have side effects. Maca is a cruciferous root vegetable from the Andes Highlands in Peru. It is in the same family as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
You can take maca in small amounts for a prolonged period of time. Start by taking ½ teaspoon per day. Slowly transition to a daily dose of 1 daily tablespoon. Finally, rotate between a few days on and then a few days off. Maca’s unique earthy taste feels very nourishing and grounding to me. It goes very well in sweet raw vegan treats, smoothies, and desserts. It is perfect in raw vegan dishes because it loses its benefits when overheated.
Maca is rich in the vitamins B, C, and E; minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus. It is also high in protein. Significantly, just 1 tablespoon of Maca powder contains 54.5 mg of Lysine (while the RDA is about 40mg per kg, depending on age), an amino acids that is often missing in many vegan diets. Maca increases energy and stamina. Endurance athletes take maca for increased performance. Maca is great for promoting sexual function in men and women. It can boost libido, increase endurance, and of course, balance your hormones and increase fertility.
Studies on Maca
Maca may relieve menstrual issues like cramps, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, depression related to menstruation and menopause. A 2008 study in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society found that taking maca relieved symptoms of anxiety. It also relieves depression, and sexual dysfunction. Another study published in the Internal Journal of Andrology in 2000 found that maca had a significant impact on general and sexual wellbeing. This was done on adult male patients with mild erectile dysfunction.
Maca also restores red blood cells, aiding in anemia and heart disease. It keeps your bones and teeth healthy, and promotes quick healing from wounds. It also helps increase muscle mass. Many also say it helps with acne and blemishes, and helps the skin deal with extreme temperatures better.
Dr. Hugo Malaspina, a cardiologist practicing complementary medicine in Lima, Peru, explains what makes maca so effective. It is its ability to encourage the ovaries and other glands to produce hormones. This is instead of introducing hormones from outside the body.
Maca is wonderful for dealing with anxiety, stress, depression and mood swings, something which I have personally experienced.
If you have cancer related to hormones or high blood pressure, it is important that you ask your doctor before taking maca. Be sure to avoid taking Maca if you are pregnant or lactating.
*I am grateful for the contribution of my student and teacher Lynne A. Lamanna, RN, MSN, ACNP, who has participated in my Raw Vegan Prep class and provided me with parts of the scientific information contained in this article.
Easy Maca Recipes
And to make this easy for you, I have made 2 delicious and very easy maca recipes for you to try!
Get the Vegan Maca Recipes
Subscribe to get your vegan Maca-containing recipes