The maca plant, known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It mainly grows in the Andes of central Peru, in harsh conditions and at very high altitudes — above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters). Maca is a cruciferous vegetable and therefore related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru. The main edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground. It exists in several colors, ranging from white to black.
Proponents claim that Maca may benefit conditions such as erectile dysfunction, low libido, depression, hair loss, and hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause. In Peruvian folk medicine, maca is sometimes used to raise energy levels. People take maca by mouth for ‘tired blood’ (anemia), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, and memory. Some people also take maca by mouth for female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, symptoms of menopause, improving fertility, and sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants, weak bones (osteoporosis), depression, leukemia, erectile dysfunction (ED), to arouse sexual desire, and to boost the immune system.