Maca and Testosterone: Aphrodisiac, but Doesn’t Boost T
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Gerardo Sison, PharmD & Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
When most people talk about testosterone boosters, they start with Tribulus Terrestris and Maca.
And that’s not cool because Maca and Tribulus are both great aphrodisiacs, but they don’t really do that much for your testosterone levels.
They’re both mistakenly thought to raise testosterone, only because both of them have a positive effect on libido and erection quality.
Here’s the unbiased truth about Maca root:
Maca is an Aphrodisiac, not a Testosterone Booster
Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) cultivates in the high Andes of Peru and is one of the most well known “super-foods” due to the fact that it’s incredibly dense in nutrients when compared to “normal” foods.
Maca has been used for centuries among the Peruvian natives, mainly as an aphrodisiac…
…The old stories of Maca’s libido-boosting benefits and the modern day research that supports the fact of Maca truly being an aphrodisiac, has mistakenly caused it also to be called a T-booster
When in reality it doesn’t enhance androgens, it’s just a libido booster:
a) The libido boosting compound in Maca was first observed in this study where the researchers identified a compound called “p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate” from the root and found out that it had aphrodisiac like activity.
b) Soon few human studies followed where Maca was able to significantly increase libido and erectile quality in athletes, healthy men, and in subjects who had SSRI (anti-depressant) induced sexual dysfunction. Based on those results the clever marketers of the bodybuilding industry started selling Maca as a natural testosterone enhancer, and claimed those studies as a “solid proof”.
c) However not too long after that, several human studies found out that Maca had no effect on male testosterone (T), luteinizing hormone (LH), or follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, even though it increased libido and erectile quality in all of the studies. The results suggest that Maca increases libido and sexual appetite through some other pathway, but not via increased testosterone levels. (study, study, study)
So as you can clearly see, Maca is not – nor has it ever been – a test supplement. it has, however, some interesting effects on erectile quality and libido in humans, making it a potent aphrodisiac supplement and erection booster (similar to these 7).
NOTE: Before I learned how to actually read and understand studies with their P-values and other scientifical statements, I was a firm believer in the fact that Maca would be a testosterone booster. The sheer amount of evidence of it having a positive effect on erections and libido in healthy humans was enough for me (and countless of others) to believe that it had to increase testosterone. But the truth is that even if something improves erections and libido, it doesn’t automatically mean that it also increases testosterone levels and vice versa.
If your goal is to solely boost testosterone levels, then forget Maca, there’s plenty of herbal and non-herbal testosterone boosters out there which have solid human research baking up their effects. Unfortunately, Maca is not one of them.
Maca does have an impressive effect on libido and erections in at least 3 different human studies, but 3 studies also debunk its hyped up “testosterone increasing” effect.
If you’re looking for an aphrodisiac dense in nutrients then you could get yourself some Peruvian Maca root, but for a testosterone boost, just forget Maca and focus on something that actually works.