Objective: Lepidium meyenii (Maca) has been used for centuries for its fertility-enhancing and aphrodisiac properties. In an Australian study, Maca improved anxiety and depressive scores. The effects of Maca on hormones, lipids, glucose, serum cytokines, blood pressure, menopausal symptoms and general well-being in Chinese postmenopausal women were evaluated.
Methods: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study was conducted in 29 postmenopausal Hong Kong Chinese women. They received 3.3 g/day of Maca or placebo for 6 weeks each, in either order, over 12 weeks. At baseline, week 6 and week 12, estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), full lipid profiles, glucose and serum cytokines were measured. The Greene Climacteric, SF-36 Version 2, Women's Health Questionnaire and Utian Quality of Life Scales were used to assess the severity of menopausal symptoms and health-related quality of life.
Results: There were no differences in estradiol, FSH, TSH, SHBG, glucose, lipid profiles and serum cytokines amongst those who received Maca as compared to the placebo group; however, significant decreases in diastolic blood pressure and depression were apparent after Maca treatment.
Conclusions: Maca did not exert hormonal or immune biological action in the small cohort of patients studied; however, it appeared to reduce symptoms of depression and improve diastolic blood pressure in Chinese postmenopausal women. Although results are comparable to previous similar published studies in postmenopausal women, there might be a cultural difference among the Chinese postmenopausal women in terms of symptom reporting.
Keywords: ANXIETY; CHINESE POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN; COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES; DEPRESSION; LEPIDIUM MEYENII; MACA; MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS.