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. 2006 Jun;2(2):143-59.

Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) Used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women - Clinical Pilot Study

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Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) Used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women - Clinical Pilot Study

H O Meissner et al. Int J Biomed Sci. .
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Background: Roots of cruciferous plant Lepidium peruvianum Chacon cultivated in high plateaus of Andes and known under its common name Maca, have been traditionally-used as an energizing vegetable with therapeutic properties for both men and women. Maca has been recognized by natives of Peru as herbal remedy helping to treat conditions affecting menopausal women.

Objective: The effects of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Maca-GO) on quantitative physiological responses and alleviation of symptoms contributing to menopausal discomfort in perimenopausal women was examined.

Methods: IN THIS, FOUR MONTHS, DOUBLE BLIND, CROSSOVER, RANDOMIZED PILOT TRIAL, MONTHLY MEASUREMENTS OF THE FOLLOWING BLOOD SERUM CONSTITUENTS WERE TAKEN: Estrogen (E2), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Progesterone (PGS), Cortisol (CT), Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH), Thyroid Hormones (TSH, T3, T4), minerals (Ca, K, Fe) and lipid profile (Triglicerides, Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL). In monthly interviews conducted by gynecologist, body weight and blood pressure were registered and Menopausal Index according to Kupperman's was determined. Toxicity of Maca -GO determined on rats showed its safe use at the level of 7.5mg/kg body weight. A group of 20 women (aged 41-50 years), who fulfilled criteria of being in perimenopausal stage (E2 above 40pg/ml and FSH below 30IU/ml), were randomly allocated to two even groups, one receiving for two months Maca-GO and the other Placebo capsules followed by a crossover with treatment change for another two months period. All participants signed informed consent to participate. Two 500mg hard capsules with Maca-GO or Placebo were self-administered by participants twice daily with meals (total 2g/day).

Results: Two months administration of Maca-GO significantly alleviated symptoms of discomfort observed in majority of women involved in the study (74%-87%) as assessed by Kupperman's Menopausal index. This was associated with significant increase in E2 and FSH, Progesterone and ACTH levels, and reduction in blood pressure, body weight, Triglycerides and Cholesterol levels. There was a distinctive placebo effect observed at the beginning of the study.

Conclusions: The results showed that in addition to reduction in body weight, blood pressure and increasing serum HDL and Iron, pre-gelatinized Maca-GO may be a valuable non-hormonal plant preparation for balancing levels of hormones (FSH, E2, PG and ACTH) and alleviating negative physiological and psychological symptoms (frequency of hot flushes, incidence in night sweating, interrupted sleep pattern, nervousness, depression and heart palpitations) experienced by women in perimenopausal stage. It appears that Maca-GO may act as a toner of hormonal processes, leading to alleviation of discomfort felt by perimenopausal women, hence, its potential use as non-hormonal alternative to HRT program.

Keywords: Maca (Lepidium peruvianum); alternative to HRT; blood hormones; perimenopause.


Figure 1
Figure 1
FSH, LH, E2 and PG levels in perimenopausal women (n=18): One group (PP-MM sequence) receiving for two months daily dose of 2 g (two 500 mg capsules twice daily) of Placebo (PP), followed by crossover (X) after which identical daily dose of Maca-GO (MM) was administered for another two months period (Treatment A - without prior run-in period), and the second group (MM-PP sequence) treated with identical daily doses of Maca-GO for two months followed by crossover and two months of Placebo administration (Treatment B - with prior run-in period)1. Blood sampling points: 1) Start - before the trial; 2) after subsequent one and 3) two months administration of PP or MM (Treatment A or B respectively), with crossover at the point 3 (X), followed by another two months (4 & 5) of administration of the same daily dose of MM or PP. Statistical significance has been determined according to multiple Wilcoxon’s test. * P<0.05; **P<0.01; NS, Not Significant.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Menopausal Index according to Kupperman as determined in two groups of perimenopausal women (n=18): after administration of 2,000 mg Maca-GO daily at: 1) Start - before the trial; 2) after subsequent one month and 3) two months administration of Placebo or Maca-GO (Treatment A - without prior run-in period), with crossover (marked by arrows) after completion of the Period A, followed by another two months (4 & 5 respectively) of administration of the same quantities of daily dose with the change from Placebo to Maca-GO and vice-versa (Treatment B - with prior run-in period). Symbol “Δ” indicates a crossover (X) point. Statistical significance: The value 3.2 = calculated Standard Error of Mean (SEM ±); Panel above the diagram, indicate difference between Maca-GO and Placebo Treatments (A and B respectively); *P<0.05; **P<0.01 and NS, Not Significant. The right hand side panel, indicates significance of differences between the scores obtained along the subsequent assessment points (between and within the PP-MM and MM-PP Treatments).

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    1. Obregon LV. 1st. Lima: Instituto de Fitoterapia Americano; 2001. “Maca” Planta Medicinal y Nutritiva del Peru; pp. 1–182.
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