Many supplements today are inspired by ancient cultures and used to treat various illnesses. We now understand why Ashwagandha and Maca have been a mainstay in the diets of ancient cultures. Both these herbs have been used because of their incredible nutrient content and health benefits.
In this article, we’ll learn more about Ashwagandha and Maca, their origin, differences, health benefits, and side effects.
Maca vs. Ashwagandha – Their Origin
The evergreen shrub known as Ashwagandha, commonly referred to as Winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is a native of Africa and the Middle East. For thousands of years, Ashwagandha has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine to boost vitality, improve mental well-being and relieve inflammation. Since “ashwa” means “horse” and “gandha” means “smell” in Sanskrit, it is believed that Ashwagandha is comparable to both the distinctive smell and power of a horse.
The Maca is an ancient cruciferous vegetable in Peru, also known as Peruvian ginseng. For more than 1,500 years, locals in Peru have been using Maca which is grown at high altitudes in the Andes. Like a radish or turnip, the maca plant’s edible portion is its root.
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years to treat various illnesses. Maca is a naturally occurring adaptogen that supports the endocrine system. It contains nutrients that aid in the body’s production of hormones even though it does not contain any naturally occurring hormones.
Maca vs. Ashwagandha – What Is The Difference?
There are many differences between Maca and Ashwagandha. The roots of Maca and Ashwagandha are their most popular edible portion that has been traditionally used for years. However, Maca’s roots are more prominent in food consumption, while Ashwagandha is popularized as a medicinal herb.
In terms of adaptogenic properties, or the ability to boost the body’s response to stress, fatigue, or exhaustion, Maca falls under the secondary adaptogen, while Ashwagandha is a primary adaptogen. This means that Maca can support the body in different ways to prevent certain illnesses. Meanwhile, Ashwagandha has been a popular Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to improve the body’s stress response.
Both Maca and Ashwagandha can boost sexual function and physical energy, but it is Ashwagandha that can help the body’s hormone production. On the other hand, Maca cannot increase or affect hormone production but may help increase sexual function.
Maca vs. Ashwagandha – Their Potential Health Benefits
Maca and Ashwagandha are known for their adaptogenic properties, which can improve the physical and mental well-being of users. Let’s explore the different health benefits of Maca and Ashwagandha based on some published studies.
Maca and Ashwagandha and their link to fertility
A study suggests Maca root’s promising effects on male fertility as it boosts sexual performance [1, 2]. This is also the case in another study where researchers used Ashwagandha supplements for men with low sperm quality for three months . The study showed an increase in sperm motility or the ability of sperm to move efficiently, showing high chances of fertility.
Can Maca root and Ashwagandha help you gain weight?
Although Maca and Ashwagandha are both traditional powerhouse herbs, there is still no direct connection to whether they promote weight gain. There are many factors to consider when it comes to the body’s way of gaining weight, but no direct study implies Maca roots or Ashwagandha supplements can improve weight gain.
Can You Take Maca and Ashwagandha Together?
These supplements don’t appear to interact negatively when taken together. In fact, these herbs may combine well to enhance hormone synthesis and sleep quality at night while enhancing libido and energy during the day.
Studies revealed that Maca has anti-fatigue properties on the body, making it an excellent complement to physical exercise . Maca increases energy levels in healthy adults, kids, and even athletes. Additionally, it is essential for increasing endurance.
Meanwhile, research shows that Ashwagandha is associated with significant increases in strength and muscle mass . This only suggests that using Ashwagandha supplements with resistance training may be helpful.
So, can you take Maca and Ashwagandha together? Taking these herbs together may offer health benefits that complement and improve a person’s overall health. However, caution is still key in ensuring the safe consumption of these two herbal supplements, so proper dosage is advisable depending on the user’s health needs.
Although further research is required, alternative medicine practitioners recommend 3 grams or 1 tablespoon of Maca powder extracts up to 9 grams per day as a safe amount of consumption. A study suggests that Ashwagandha capsules are well tolerated in dosages between 750 milligrams and 1,250 milligrams per day .
Maca vs. Ashwagandha – Their Potential Side Effects
Taking ashwagandha and maca root is thought to be generally safe and without any severe side effects, but more research is needed to determine their long-term effects. It would be best to use caution and moderation if you take them together.
Ashwagandha has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Maca, also known as Peruvian ginseng, is another powerhouse herb known for responding to stress and energy performance.
These two herbs are getting more attention in fertility health because studies show a potential increase in sperm motility. However, it is still important to note that their long-term side effects are still unknown. While they are used in traditional medicine, it is always essential to consider the body’s response to these herbal supplements and health conditions before deciding to include them in one’s daily routine.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Dording CM, Fisher L, Papakostas G, Farabaugh A, Sonawalla S, Fava M, Mischoulon D. A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00052.x. PMID: 18801111; PMCID: PMC6494062.
- Gonzales GF, Córdova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, Góñez C, Castillo S. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002 Dec;34(6):367-72. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0272.2002.00519.x. PMID: 12472620.
- Ambiye, V. R., Langade, D., Dongre, S., Aptikar, P., Kulkarni, M., & Dongre, A. (2012). Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/571420
- Zhu H, Xu W, Wang N, Jiang W, Cheng Y, Guo Y, Yao W, Hu B, Du P, Qian H. Anti-fatigue effect of Lepidium meyenii Walp. (Maca) on preventing mitochondria-mediated muscle damage and oxidative stress in vivo and vitro. Food Funct. 2021 Apr 7;12(7):3132-3141. doi: 10.1039/d1fo00383f. Epub 2021 Mar 17. PMID: 33729250.
- Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. PMID: 26609282; PMCID: PMC4658772.
- Raut AA, Rege NN, Tadvi FM, Solanki PV, Kene KR, Shirolkar SG, Pandey SN, Vaidya RA, Vaidya AB. Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2012 Jul;3(3):111-4. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.100168. PMID: 23125505; PMCID: PMC3487234.