meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men
F. Gonzales, Amanda Cordova, Carla Gonzales, Arturo Chung, Karla
of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy and Ins
Maca is the root of a Peruvian plant Lepidium meyenii (Brassicaceae), growing in the Central Andean Region of Peru between 4000 and 4500 m altitude, mainly in Junin and Cerro de Pasco. This species is described in the catalogue of the flowering plants and gymnosperms of Peru . Maca is traditionally employed, among others, to improve sexuality and fertility. Oral administration of Maca significantly improved the sexual behavior in male rats and mice[2,3]. More recently, it has been demonstrated that Maca improves spermatogenesis in male rats, however, its effect on sperm production in men has not been assessed. The present investigation was designed to study the effect of oral administration of Maca on the semen parameters and serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) levels in normal male volunteers.
2 Materials and methods
(Maca Gelatinizada La Molina) tablets were provided by the Laboratorios
Hersil (Lima, Peru). Each tablet contains
500 mg of the root. This product could be purchased
in the pharmacy as a nutrient.
Subjects and treatment
healthy men, 24-44 years of age, were recruited in the study, but 3 dropped
out due to personal reasons during the 4 month treatment period. They
had not received
any kind of medical treatment for at least 3 months before the study.
All the subjects gave written consent to participate in the study after
being informed of the purpose, benefit and possible risks of the study.
Among the 9 men with complete data, 6 were married and 3, single. Semen
samples were collected by masturbation after a 3 day abstinence and fasting
blood samples obtained between 08.00-09.00 h before and at the end of
the treatment. Sera were kept frozen until
hormone assay. Six subjects received 1500 mg/day, whereas 3, 3000 mg/day
of Maca for 4 months. The study was
approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Scientific Research
Office, at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.
ejaculate volume, semen consistency, sperm motility, sperm morphology
and sperm concentration were assessed
according to the WHO manual. Spermatozoa
a (rapid progressive motility), b (slow or sluggish progressive
c (nonprogressive motility), or d (immotility) as recommended
by the manual.
FSH, and PRL were measured by immunoradiometric assay (IRMA), whereas
T and E2 were measured by radioimmunoassay using commercial
kits (Diagnostic Product Co,
Data were expressed in meanSEM, if applicable. Statistical analysis was performed by the Students t-test.The difference was considered significant when P<0.05.
on semen analysis are presented in Table 1. The semen volume, total sperm
count, motile sperm count, and sperm
motility (Grades a+b) were significantly increased
after treatment with Maca (P<0.05). Motility Grade a sperm was also
increased, but statistically insignificant. There were no significant
differences between the two dosage levels of Maca used. In 4 of the 9
subjects, who had low basal serum FSH levels, the sperm count was not
increased after Maca treatment .
volume resulted from the contributions of seminal vesicles (60%), prostate (30%)
and epididymis(10%). All these glands are androgen dependent.
Sperm motility was also androgen dependent. Maca treatment
was able to increase both
the semen volume and sperm motility. However, we failed to find any increase in
serum testosterone levels during Maca treatment, which may suggest that
either bioavailable testosterone or testosterone receptor binding might
Another possibility is that Maca may act without the participation of androgen mechanism. This seems to be supported by the fact that the weight of seminal vesicle, a target for androgen action, was not influenced by Maca in adult male rats.
adult male rats, Maca has been shown to be beneficial to spermatogenesis.
In the present study, sperm count was increased by Maca without affecting
the FSH level. It is possible that Maca may improve the response of Sertoli
cells to FSH.
We have demonstrated in women that oral administration of Maca
for 2 weeks resulted in an
increase in the size of the dominant follicles (unpublished data), which
also suggested that Maca may improve the response to FSH. Further studies
will be required to clarify this issue. In conclusion, Maca administration
as tablets may improve sperm production and sperm motility.
Brako L, Zarucchi JL. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms
of Peru. St Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden; 1993. p 229.
to: Dr. Gustavo F. Gonzales, Instituto de Investigaciones de la Altura,
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, P.O. Box 1843, Lima, Peru.