The People's Perspective on Medicine

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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I am a male and had prostate cancer surgery. The cancer had spread to my seminal vesicles. When my PSA number indicates that the cancer is active, I have to go on hormone therapy for 15-18 months. The hot flashes during this time are intense. I have tried all of the usual treatments but none has worked. I wonder if Maca would work for me and the tens of thousands like me who suffer from hot flashes?

I am having severe episodes of my body overheating when I exercise. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and started taking arimdex in July of 2017, at first I had mild flashes of heat . Then in May 2018 when I. exercise my body started overheating so much so that I felt my brain and internal organs were being cooked. When I talk to my cancer doctors at follow up appointments they just say sweating is good for you. But this is more than sweating.

I have had to start walking at 630 am and pack my hat with ice, insert ice in bags into my bra, have a bag of ice hang off the front of my bra and the back of my bra and have water always with me. I have also tried cooling shirts and towels and ice filled headbands . I am currently seeing an endocrinologist and she has run a number of tests mostly to rule out things. So far everything has been normal. I can’t wear my hair down, I sweat at night, I sweat just sitting. I was hoping Maca would be a solution but one of the articles I read said not to take it if you had a history of breast cancer, so I will discuss this with the doctor when I am seen again.

I don’t think I can stand this much longer and wondering if taking the arimdex is worth the discomfort. Does anyone else have any ideas on how I might control this overreaction of my body ? I feel there is a very fine line that throws me into overheating.. thank you

Maca root did not stop my hot flashes.

After suffering from hot flashes for 8 years, and having tried every OTC remedy, I read about maca and tried it. It instantly made my hot flashes worse! After a little research I learned that during menopause we may become estrogen dominant or progesterone dominant. Women who are estrogen dominant may benefit from maca as it is characterized as an adaptogen and therefore appears to boost progesterone production. After my negative reaction to it, I assumed I must be progesterone dominant and didn’t need any more! At the same time, I learned about topical estriol (the weakest of the estrogens we naturally produce), that women in Europe have been using safely for decades to quell hot flashes. I ordered some from Smoky Mountain Naturals and like magic, my hot flashes immediately dropped from 20/day to less than 1 a day! I also noticed a subtle calming effect. But perhaps most interestingly of all, my Raynaud’s symptoms also vanished! I developed Raynaud’s in my fingers nearly 50 years ago and have always lived in cold climates. The only 2 winters I had no Raynaud’s symptoms were when I was pregnant. And guess which hormone is high during pregnancy? Yup–estriol! After 3 years of use, it is still working beautifully for me. I hope some of you reading this can also benefit.

I have heard that dung quai has been used for several years. Has anyone had experience with it?

I have tried Maca root along with black cohosh, and many other things to help relieve hot flashes, with no relief. Other friends have had good results with these herbal remedies and over-the-counter menopausal products, but not me. I have tried them all. I seem to be resistant to everything except good old fashioned estrogen. Feeling doomed.

I have had some succes reducing hot flashes by exercising regularly (and vigorously), avoiding processed foods, reducing coffee and alcohol intake as much as possible, and using stress reduction methods like meditation and yoga. It’s a lot to do (or to give up) but it helps any herbs that I try give me their full effectiveness.

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