by Amy Nancarrow
Excerpted from Nature & Health, Oct/Nov, 2001
Since our report on the Peruvian powder, maca, many readers have written to Nature & Health to share the experiences they’ve had with this natural remedy. Limited space prevents us from printing all of them, but we want to thank everyone for writing with their individual success stories – and hope that they will inspire others in similar situations.
Heavy Periods: Cecile’s Story
“I am 41 years of age and had experienced heavy menstrual bleeding since a teenager. I have had three children, and as I got older, my health has also been compromised by chronic anaemia. Each month I would feel a heaviness and pressure in my body as a build-up to my period.
After the heavy flow, it would take several days to feel OK after feeling extremely tired and ‘washed-out’. I started taking the herb maca five cycles (months) ago. I believe I noticed a change after three weeks, and I encourage women who take this herb to persevere through this initial phase. This is no quick pharmaceutical fix, but has been like a miracle cure for me. I can honestly say that all negative aspects and symptoms of my periods have reduced by 80 per cent, and I continue to feel more well as each month passes. The blood flow has also decreased dramatically so that I feel my energy levels and physical vitality are really very good. I would recommend this herb for any women experiencing menstrual or hormonal problems.”
Hysterectomy: Melanie’s Story
“After years of symptoms that kept getting worse, my doctor told me that if I didn’t have a hysterectomy I would get cancer. I was really depressed because friends who have endured this operation have never fully recovered, and their marital relations were adversely affected. Then a friend told me about maca and showed me an article in your magazine. At first, I didn’t really believe anything so simple could be so good, but I started feeling much better after about three weeks of taking it. For the first time in my life I’m having normal periods, and I will never have that awful operation.”
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Peggy’s Story
“Almost six years ago, I contracted Ross River Fever and was desperately ill for months. Eventually I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and nothing brought relief (I tried everything!) until I read about maca in your wonderful magazine. For the first few weeks I didn’t notice any improvement.
“Then I increased my dose to one teaspoon twice a day, and after two weeks I felt human for the first time in years. I just kept getting better every month until now, a year and a half after starting maca, I am normal again. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a terrible affliction, and I wanted to write to you so others will know where to find help. Oh, yes, and I was able to cut my dose down to ‘maintenance’ after two months, so it only costs me about $10 per month. What a bargain!”
Hair and Nails: Mindy’s Story
“I first learned about maca from a woman who had ‘drowned mouse hair’, as she called it. She had been struggling with straight, lifeless hair all her life, having to set it daily in the vain effort to give it body. One day when I was doing her hair (I have been a hairdresser for 15 years), I was amazed to discover that it is now full of pep – it’s stronger, lustrous, and even has a bit of a curl. The upshot is that I’ve lost a client, because all she needs since maca is an occasional haircut, as she now has ‘wash-and-wear hair’. She doesn’t even need to dry it – a towel-rub and a fluff and she’s all set! Needless to say, I started taking this ‘magic powder’ myself and my hair has improved out of sight, as have my fingernails. They used to be pale, and now they’re a healthy pink, and growing long for the first time in my life! I’ve recommended maca to lots of people, and they are all having great results.”
Osteoporosis: Marilyn’s Story
“About a year and a half ago, when I had a bone scan, they told me I had the bones of an 8o year-old – and I’m only 52! 1 was really worried, but I certainly didn’t want to take oestrogen, because of the side effects. Then I read about maca in your magazine, and I’m so grateful to you for printing that information.
“The first change I noticed was that my fingernails looked different. They were a very pale colour and they had strange white horizontal marks across them. Somebody told me that meant I had low calcium, but I don’t know if that’s right. It wasn’t long before my nails got pink and healthy looking, and to my amazement they grew long and didn’t break off the way they have all my life. I figured that meant I was assimilating my calcium (which I was getting from eating more sardines and vegetables, which I read had calcium in them). This was encouraging and I got the courage to have another bone scan, and my doctor couldn’t believe it was possible to have so much improvement. He seemed pretty annoyed when I admitted that I wasn’t taking calcium (he was already pretty cross that I wouldn’t take oestrogen!), and when I tried to explain that the improvement was caused by a natural herb powder, he didn’t want to know! I think I’m going to change doctors!
“Another thing – I don’t know what maca has in it that helps the emotions, but it sure made a change in me. For years I was depressed most of the time (I also refused the Prozac the doctor suggested!), but maca has lifted my spirits. I’m happy in life, and always laughing. Thank you, Nature & Health, for making this big improvement in my life possible. My husband thanks you, too, because I used to be pretty hard to live with!”
Perimenopause: Susan’s Story
“The perimenopausal phase began for me five and a half years ago when I was almost 41, and was characterised by irregularly spaced periods, with some continuing daily for months at a time, mood swings including depression; itchy skin; lowered libido; and the occasional hot flush. Then, nine months ago, after not having a period for six months, things became dramatically intensified. Ten searing hot flushes with accompanying sweats a day seemed difficult to endure, but they soon increased in frequency to every half hour, day and night, with the result that any significant sleep became impossible. With almost no sleep and the debilitating effects of the flushes themselves, my quality of life was dwindling and I began to wonder how long I could continue. I had previously not realised that menopause could have such a devastating effect on your body and mind. I almost felt that if life was going to be like this from now on, then it wasn’t worth living.
“When I heard about maca, it seemed like an answer to a prayer, as it has in fact proven to be. Within a week the flushes had reduced significantly, and within eight weeks, they had disappeared entirely. I had to begin with quite a high dosage, and adjust it frequently during the first few months, but I am now comfortable on a quarter of a teaspoon twice daily. Also, within a week, my libido made a strong and welcome return and now the genital atrophy that had occurred has completely reversed. Sleep has become deep and uninterrupted, my energy levels have risen dramatically, my mental acuity has returned, and there have been some unexpected positive side effects, such as better-looking skin and the disappearance of an anal fistula, which had not responded to a barrage of treatments prior to this. I cannot recommended maca highly enough to other women weathering the menopausal storm.”
What an Expert says:
Naturopath Anita Barry, from Ashmore, Queensland, writes: “Following are some of the experiences my patients have had on maca powder:
A lady with severe osteoporosis was overjoyed when she told me there had been an increase in her bone density, after one year on maca.
A patient who suffered depression, irritability and severe mood swings, making life unbearable for her family and, of course, for herself, reported incredible relief after taking maca for just a short time.
A 20 year-old patient, whose periods had ceased two years previously, took maca and after only two months, her periods returned. “As a natural health practitioner, I am delighted to discover a safe product that can bring health benefits to so many.