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Can You Cool Your Hot Flashes with Maca?

Some women have found that they can ease their menopausal hot flashes with maca, a root from the Peruvian Andes. Will it help you?

Just because menopause is a natural part of life doesn’t mean it is easy. Some women have intense hot flashes for only a few years, but others may suffer for a decade or more. Estrogen is the gold standard for easing flushing and sweating, but it is not appropriate for everyone. Could you control your hot flashes with maca?

Easing Hot Flashes with Maca:

Q. I started having hot flashes at 40 years old and I’m now 55. My hot flashes have become unbearable–ten or more severe hot flashes with full body sweating every day.
Black cohosh has not been helpful and I do not want to take estrogen. I went searching online for other natural remedies and found maca. It is a root from Peru. After about three days, my hot flashes have been reduced to just one or two a day with no full body sweating. Can you tell me anything about maca for menopause?

A. Thank you for your testimonial. Many women would prefer not to suffer hot flashes but may be reluctant to use hormone replacement therapy. Some randomized controlled trials have shown that Pycnogenol and maca extract (Lepidium meyenii) can help control hot flashes (Maturitas, Feb. 2014).  We are pleased to learn you are able to alleviate your hot flashes with maca.

Is It Safe to Treat Hot Flashes with Maca?

There is little if any data on the safety of this plant compound, especially taken out of its indigenous context (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Jan. 30, 2018).  Research indicates that its active compounds result from traditional Andean methods of harvesting and drying the roots (Phytochemistry, Aug. 2015).

Other readers have also had success easing hot flashes with maca. Here is what one woman wrote:

Maca for Hot Flashes:

Q. Thank you for writing about maca for hot flashes. I took a capsule twice a day for a month, and my hot flashes disappeared during the day. I also used to suffer from intense night sweats, about four a night, and now I experience only a very mild one about once a night.

A. Maca is the root of a plant native to the Andes. Although it has not been thoroughly researched, a pilot study found that it reduced blood pressure and eased depression in postmenopausal women (Climacteric, Feb., 2015).

Hot Flashes but Not Hormones:

In this study it had no impact on hormones, which is promising. Conventional estrogen replacement therapy works extremely well for most women to banish hot flashes and night sweats but can also increase the risk for blood clots, cardiovascular complications and breast cancer (as well as endometrial cancer if no progesterone is included in the regimen). Given that track record, we are encouraged when an herbal approach can treat symptoms without activating hormone receptors.

Maca also has a reputation (so far as we know, unsupported by science) for boosting male libido. Perhaps that is why it is enjoying great popularity in China at this time. An article in The Wall Street Journal in 2015 reported that buyers from China had nearly cornered the market in Peru, which could make maca harder to find or more expensive.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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