So the price of Maca root has gone up about fourfold in the last year or so, up to about $60-70/lb retail now (about $40-45/lb wholesale for certified organic powder). The Chinese have discovered it. Apparently they’ve discovered what I’ve been saying for years, that it is superior to Ginseng for most people who need a strong Qi tonic. Apparently some unscrupulous Asian importers have been disguising themselves as tourists in order to purchase it in Peru and illegally send it back to China. That is why Peruvian farmers have had to raise prices on their Maca exports, so let’s keep an eye on that.
Maca is superior to Ginseng because it is indicated for bascially the same health issues: insufficient energy, exhaustion, debility, weak blood/anemia, low sex drive, hormone insufficiency imbalances, poor appetite, sluggish digestion and lung function, as well as the resulting comprised immunity and/or depression. Maca is a great mood lifter!
It works well at approximately the same dosing levels (500 mg – 1gram, 1-2x daily). It is sweet tasting and its powder will dissolve readily when 1/4 – 1 tsp doses are held in your mouth.
However, doses can be increased more safely than with Ginseng as it has less potential for harmful blood heating effects (or other adverse Ginseng effects like internal bleeding, which comes only with overdose). It can be used equally well by men and women without undesirable hormonal effects, and can be used by women to bring hormones into balance when the ‘change’ hits (larger doses may be needed and are safe).
So we can expect the consumption of Maca to rise in Asia. This means we will need to further support not only organic growing practices, but fair trade and econologically sustainable growing practices in South America. Maca has a limited growing region, so sustainable growing practices are important. It grows historically in the high Andes region of South America (11-12°S latitude, elevation 3800-4400 m), mostly in Peru.
Maca, Lepidium meyenii, is a member of the prolific Cruciferous (Brassicaca) family, with its turnip-like root the holder of the valued toning adaptogenic food/medicine. Because it is in the turnip family and quite similar, it should be considered incompatible with Ginseng as per TCM materia medica.
Make sure your Maca comes from Peru or South America. Maca root is still well worth the $4-6 or so per oz you may have to pay. It is a bargain compared to $10-15/oz wholesale for quality American or Asian Ginseng.
Let’s support our brothers and sisters in Peru and the Andes region by buying and using Maca (at least when American Ginseng is not preferable).
Recommended sources for certified organic Maca:
– Maca root powder at Mountain Rose herbs