A review of the study of active components and their pharmacology value in Lepidium meyenii (Maca)

Phytother Res. 2021 Dec;35(12):6706-6719. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7257. Epub 2021 Sep 17.


Lepidium meyenii (Maca) contains several active components, including alkaloids, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, polysaccharides, polyphenols, and sterols, which make it have the traditional therapeutic uses. In this paper, we summarized the analytical progress of the active components associated with alkaloids, polysaccharides, glucosinolates, sterols, free fatty acids, flavonoids, and natural phenols in Maca by mass spectrometry (MS). Due to the effect of color and type on active components in Maca, we summarized the study of quality evaluation about Maca according to the type and the content of active components such as glucosinolates, essential oils, macamides, and macaenes by MS. Additionally, the research on the change of active components in Maca at different growth stages by MS will be beneficial to full utilization of active components in Maca and other natural resources. We reviewed the study in the visible distribution of amino acids, amide alkaloids, imidazolium alkaloids, and saccharides in Maca by imaging mass spectrometry (IMS). We also reviewed the pharmacology value associated with improvement of reproductive function, anti-stress response, anti-osteoporosis, antitumor activity, clinical research and toxicity of Maca, and so forth. Nevertheless, due to individual differences and limitations of the subjects, further high-quality studies are needed to confirm the clinical efficacy of the plant.

Keywords: Lepidium meyenii (Maca); active component; imaging mass spectrometry; mass spectrometry; pharmacology value.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lepidium*
  • Oils, Volatile*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Polysaccharides


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polysaccharides