Ask the Doctor – December 2007
I am a 62-year-old male who has experienced the libido enhancing effects of maca yet I am surprised to read that, according to studies, maca does not increase testosterone levels. I wonder if you have done blood or saliva testing on any of your patients to ascertain if there has, in fact, been an increase in their testosterone levels. If maca does not do this, is there any other supplement you use that you have been able to verify has increased your patient’s T levels?
In addition, since it is also important for a man to have good Progesterone levels, is there anything you use to optimize this hormone in men? Please do not use my name if publishing this letter. Thank you.
There’s a lot more to libido than just testosterone levels. One must look at things like circulation problems, blood sugar control issues, prostate disease, stress, psychological problems and toxins in the system. While I do check testosterone in individuals using maca, I rarely find any abnormalities or significant changes in the hormone levels before or after people use maca as a supplement. To elevate testosterone naturally, one can use biosynthetic precursors such as velvet elk antler extract, DHEA or pregnenelone (adrenal hormones).
Maca is an adaptogen meaning that it will optimize hormone levels involving the hypothalamic-pituitary axis as opposed to selectively raising or lowering any specific hormone. It elevates or lowers the hormones that are out of balance in the body. This is why it is capable of alleviating menopausal as well as andropausal symptoms in both sexes and has numerous other benefits associated with balancing all the glands of the endocrine system. All of this is provided the individual does not suffer from one of many endocrine gland diseases such as hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, Addison’s disease, etc. For functional hormonal problems like those caused by stress, anxiety, poor diets, exposure to pollution and severe climate changes, maca will be of great help in rebalancing the system. It will not be of much help if the target organ (adrenals, testes, ovaries, etc.) is diseased in any way.
Optimizing progesterone levels in men is accomplished with maca as well as by vitamin B6, Korean ginseng and vitex (chaste berry). One can also use estrogen receptor blocking agents like indole-3-carbinol and isoflavones derived from kudzu. With all the xenoestrogens in our environment, it’s safe to say most men suffer from estrogen dominance or a relative progesterone deficiency.
Zoltan Rona, M.D., M.Sc.
1366 Yonge St. Suite 201