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Contraindications of Peruvian maca

January 15, 2021
Contraindications of Peruvian maca

Maca appears to be  well tolerated by most people . In general, its consumption is considered safe, as long as the recommended dose is not exceeded. However, it should be noted that its use may be contraindicated or cause side effects in some cases.

What are the adverse effects of maca?

Although more studies are needed on this topic, some studies and testimonials have reported the possibility of experiencing the following 1 2:

  • Humor changes
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased heart rate / agitation
  • Menstrual irregularity

The risk of experiencing such symptoms is believed to be greater if the person takes maca supplements. Consuming maca flour as part of the diet carries less risk.

Contraindications, special precautions and warnings

Several officials warn that regular use of the maca , regardless of whether it is red maca , black or yellow, can be risky in the following cases3:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Since there is still  not enough information on the safety of maca during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is recommended that women avoid taking it at these stages.

Estrogen-sensitive health conditions

The compounds present in the maca, especially in the extract of maca, they can act like estrogen, hence their consumption is not considered completely safe for people suffering from breast cancer , uterine cancer , ovarian cancer , endometriosis or uterine fibroids . In case of presenting any of these conditions, women should consult a specialist before taking maca on their own.

Some sources have reported that regular consumption of maca can also lead to an increase in testosterone levels . This, in turn, could cause changes in the voice, facial hair growth pattern, and even insulin resistance. In women, having too much testosterone can exacerbate serious conditions like uterine cancer or breast cancer.

Thyroid problems

Although it has been observed that the properties of maca can improve the functioning of the thyroid, it is important to consider that this root contains goitrogens , substances that can interfere with the normal function of said gland if taken excessively. These compounds are more likely to affect you if you already have a thyroid function disorder, such as hyperthyroidism, or if you are under treatment.

One of the main side effects associated with the excessive consumption of maca root is the increase in iodine levels due to its high natural iodine content. This can backfire and cause complications in patients who already have abnormally high iodine levels in their blood. Likewise, it is noted that excess iodine can lead to other additional medical complications, such as kidney failure and insulin-related diseases. Extreme cases of iodine-related disorders include the development of a goiter or an enlarged thyroid gland.

Some research suggests that consuming too many cruciferous vegetables (the family to which maca belongs) can cause hypothyroidism 4.

Arterial hypertension

High doses of maca, or its long-term consumption, are often contraindicated in people with hypertension due to its ability to raise blood pressure . It should be noted that some people experience the opposite effect when taking maca in moderation.


Like any supplement or new food, maca can cause allergic reactions. Some cases can be mild, with symptoms of itching, mild skin rashes, and numbness . However, more serious allergic reactions can cause hives, shortness of breath, or even anaphylaxis. In that case the person should seek emergency medical attention.

Children and people under medical treatment

Since there is not enough scientific evidence on the safety of maca in children , nor its possible interaction with certain medications , it is recommended to avoid it in both cases. It is always important to consult your doctor before starting to use maca or another new supplement, especially if you have a health condition.

Finally, keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Although maca is usually a safe food, native Peruvians believe that  consuming fresh maca root can have adverse  health effects for some people. They recommend boiling it before consuming.
  • Maca is an adaptogen. Taking two or more adaptogenic herbs at the same time is not recommended . Avoid taking dong quai, black cohosh, licorice root, or fertility drugs along with maca.
  • The consumption of maca should not be done constantly. It is best to  take it for a while and then rest . At first it can have quite strong effects and it is not good to let the body get used to using it or depend on it for long periods of time. If you’ve been taking maca for a month, stop for a weekend; If you’ve used it for 3 months or more, suspend it for a full week. This will make the body receptive to phytonutrients.
  • Similarly, it is better to  start with small doses and gradually increase consumption. You should not exceed three teaspoons per day and it is not good to take them all at once. The last dose should not be taken late at night as it can affect the sleep cycle. See more details in: How to Take Andean Maca? Options, Dosage, Precautions .
  • Not all people observe the effects of this tuber with the same speed; some notice the difference in a few weeks , while others take a little longer.

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My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.