Investigation of the tuber constituents of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.)

J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Sep 25;50(20):5621-5. doi: 10.1021/jf020280x.


Lepidium meyenii, known in South America as maca, has received attention worldwide as a powerful energizer that improves physical and mental conditions and increases fertility. Because of these reports, we investigated the secondary metabolites of the tuber of maca. The methanol extract of the tuber of maca contained, in addition to free sugars and amino acids, the following: uridine, malic acid and its benzoyl derivative, and the glucosinolates, glucotropaeolin and m-methoxyglucotropaeolin. Because glucosinolates and their derived products have received increasing attention due to their biological activities, the occurrence of glucosinolate degradation products in the hexane extract was also investigated, and benzylisothiocyanate and its m-methoxy derivative were isolated. The two glucosinolates were semiquantified by HPLC, and benzylisothiocyanate was semiquantified by GC/MS. The methanol extract of maca tuber also contained (1R,3S)-1-methyltetrahydro-beta-carboline-3-carboxylic acid, a molecule which is reported to exert many activities on the central nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glucosinolates / analysis
  • Hexanes
  • Lepidium / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Malates / analysis
  • Methanol
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Uridine / analysis


  • Amino Acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Glucosinolates
  • Hexanes
  • Malates
  • Plant Extracts
  • malic acid
  • Uridine
  • Methanol