The controversy surrounding maca and ginseng has received much attention in natural health and wellness. Both roots have a rich tradition in traditional medicine and offer a range of health advantages that cut across generations and cultural boundaries. 

But which one rules supreme when it comes to maca vs. ginseng? To arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best decision for your health, this article compares and contrasts the differences between these two.

What Are Maca and Ginseng?

Lepidium meyenii is the scientific name for maca, a root vegetable from Peru’s Andes mountains. It is frequently praised for its adaptogenic qualities, which aid the body in coping with stress. It’s commonly referred to as a superfood. [1]

On the other hand, ginseng is a root primarily found in Eastern Asia and North America and is a member of the Panax genus. There are many different kinds of ginseng, such as American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). [2]

Ginseng is popular for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is typically consumed as a tea, capsule, or extract.

Traditional medicine has used ginseng and maca for a very long time. While ginseng has long been a mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and is frequently recommended for enhancing general well-being, maca has been used by the indigenous people of Peru for vitality and endurance.

Maca vs. Ginseng: Benefits

Maca vs. Ginseng: Which Is Better?
Source: Canva

The following comparison between the two enables a more accurate evaluation, even though both offer a wide range of advantages.

Enhanced Energy Levels

For athletes and fitness enthusiasts in particular, maca is renowned for its ability to increase energy and endurance. [3

Ginseng, too, has energizing properties but tends to provide a steadier flow of energy without the highs and lows that some experience with other stimulants. [4]

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

Both maca and ginseng are adaptogens, which means they can help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. However, ginseng is generally more recognized for its calming effects on anxiety and stress levels. [5]

Hormonal Balance

Maca is widely used for its ability to help balance hormones, making it beneficial for menstrual and menopausal symptoms. Although less targeted in its hormonal effects, ginseng is thought to improve overall endocrine function.

Cognitive Function

Ginseng takes the edge in cognitive benefits, with studies showing it may improve memory, reaction times, and mental clarity. [6

Maca also contributes to mental well-being but lacks the extensive research backing that ginseng enjoys in this domain. [7]

Sexual Health

Maca has been shown to improve libido and fertility, particularly in men. [8

Ginseng is also used for erectile dysfunction and is backed by scientific studies confirming its efficacy in enhancing sexual performance. [9]

Immune System Boost

Ginseng is often recommended for its ability to boost the immune system, particularly for preventing colds and flu. [10

Maca’s immune-boosting properties are less documented but are nevertheless a frequent claim among its proponents. [11]

Antioxidant Properties

Both maca and ginseng have antioxidant capabilities that help fight free radicals, slowing aging and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Ginseng’s antioxidants, however, have been studied more extensively and are considered more potent.

Maca vs. Ginseng: Side Effects

Maca vs. Ginseng: Which Is Better?
Source: Canva

Understanding potential side effects is as essential as knowing the benefits when choosing between maca and ginseng. Here are some of the most common side effects associated with each:

Maca Side Effects

  • Some people report experiencing stomach discomfort, gas, or bloating when they first start using maca.
  • Due to its impact on hormones, maca could potentially interfere with hormone-sensitive conditions like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or endometriosis.
  • In some cases, the energizing effects of maca can be too potent, leading to insomnia or jitteriness.
  • Though rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions like skin rash or difficulty breathing.

Ginseng Side Effects

  • Ginseng may affect either elevating or lowering blood pressure, so it’s not advisable for those with pre-existing blood pressure issues.
  • Ginseng may interact with blood thinners, antidepressants, and anti-diabetic medications.
  • Some users have reported diarrhea or digestive discomfort when taking ginseng.
  • For some people, ginseng can cause difficulty falling asleep or disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Like Maca, ginseng can also affect hormone-sensitive conditions and should be used cautiously in such cases.

Maca vs. Ginseng: Dosage

Maca vs. Ginseng: Which Is Better?
Source: Canva

When it comes to dosage, both Maca and Ginseng come with their own set of guidelines, often influenced by the form in which they’re consumed and the intended health benefit. 

Let’s delve into what current research suggests for each.

Maca Dosage

Maca is commonly available in powder, capsule, and tincture forms. A standard dosage for powdered Maca ranges from 1.5 to 5 grams per day. For capsules, a typical dosage is around 450-500 mg, taken 1-3 times daily. 

As maca is an adaptogen, it’s generally advised to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it to see how your body reacts.

Ginseng Dosage

Depending on the variety and preparation, ginseng dosage varies. For instance, the dosage for Korean Red Ginseng is typically 200–400 mg per day, and the dosage for American Ginseng is typically 500–1,000 mg per day. 

Like maca, starting with a lower dosage and speaking with a doctor is best, especially if you have any medical conditions or taking other medications.

Maca vs. Ginseng: Which Is Better?

maca coffee 2

The ultimate question of which supplement—maca or ginseng—is “better” is complicated because it heavily depends on each person’s unique health objectives and requirements. 

Maca is a preferred treatment for conditions like irregular menstruation or sexual dysfunction because it excels in areas like hormonal balance, stamina, and libido enhancement. 

On the other hand, ginseng is frequently praised for its more widespread anti-inflammatory, cognitive, and immune-boosting properties.

Maca could be ideal for those looking for a targeted approach to issues like hormonal imbalance or fertility. Ginseng might be more appropriate for people more concerned with their overall health, cognitive function, and immune system support.

Ginseng, on the other hand, is typically backed by a wider range of scientific research, making it a more “tried-and-true” option. Even though maca is becoming more and more popular, scientists still need to do more research to confirm its benefits.

Conclusion

Ultimately, your personal health needs and goals will determine whether you choose maca or ginseng. Each root has its own advantages, disadvantages, and dosage recommendations.

Before making a choice, always seek medical advice.

FAQs

Ginseng and maca can be combined, but consult your doctor first for advice on dosage and potential interactions.
Consult your doctor for specific advice because it is unknown whether maca and ginseng are safe to take while expecting or nursing a baby.
The time it takes to start feeling the effects can vary from person to person, depending on factors like dosage and particular medical conditions. Some people may see results in just a week, while others may require more time.

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

  1. Gonzales, G. F. (2012). Ethnobiology and ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a plant from the Peruvian highlands. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2012.
  2. Ratan, Z. A., Haidere, M. F., Hong, Y. H., Park, S. H., Lee, J. O., Lee, J., & Cho, J. Y. (2021). Pharmacological potential of ginseng and its major component ginsenosides. Journal of ginseng research, 45(2), 199-210.
  3. Fei, W., Hou, Y., Yue, N., Zhou, X., Wang, Y., Wang, L., … & Zhang, J. (2020). The effects of aqueous extract of Maca on energy metabolism and immunoregulation. European journal of medical research, 25(1), 1-8.
  4. Bach, H. V., Kim, J., Myung, S. K., & Cho, Y. A. (2016). Efficacy of ginseng supplements on fatigue and physical performance: a meta-analysis. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 31(12), 1879-1886.
  5. Lee, S., & Rhee, D. K. (2017). Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Journal of ginseng research, 41(4), 589-594.
  6. Jakaria, M., Haque, M. E., Kim, J., Cho, D. Y., Kim, I. S., & Choi, D. K. (2018). Active ginseng components in cognitive impairment: Therapeutic potential and prospects for delivery and clinical study. Oncotarget, 9(71), 33601.
  7. Guo, S. S., Gao, X. F., Gu, Y. R., Wan, Z. X., Lu, A., Qin, Z. H., & Luo, L. (2016). Preservation of cognitive function by Lepidium meyenii (maca) is associated with improvement of mitochondrial activity and upregulation of autophagy-related proteins in middle-aged mouse cortex. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2016.
  8. Bower-Cargill, C., Yarandi, N., & Petróczi, A. (2022). A systematic review of the versatile effects of the Peruvian Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii) on sexual dysfunction, menopausal symptoms and related conditions. Phytomedicine Plus, 100326.
  9. Lee, H. W., Lee, M. S., Kim, T. H., Alraek, T., Zaslawski, C., Kim, J. W., & Moon, D. G. (2021). Ginseng for erectile dysfunction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (4).
  10. Kang, S., & Min, H. (2012). Ginseng, the’immunity boost’: the effects of Panax ginseng on immune system. Journal of ginseng research, 36(4), 354.
  11. Fei, W. T., Yue, N., Li, A. M., Yu, S. H., Zhao, D. P., Zhu, Y. L., … & Wang, L. Y. (2022). Immunomodulatory effects of Lepidium meyenii Walp. Polysaccharides on an immunosuppression model induced by cyclophosphamide. Journal of Immunology Research, 2022.

maca coffee 3
Lily R. Guion, BSc

Meet Lily Guion, a skilled health and medical writer with over 4 years of experience in the field. With a degree in Biology and prior work experience in the laboratory of a food company, Lily has developed a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable health information. As a writer, she excels at creating informative content on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, diet, safe pregnancy, children's health, medicine, cannabis, and health supplements. Her ultimate goal is to provide readers with accurate and valuable information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. LinkedIn

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  • Meet Lily Guion, a skilled health and medical writer with over 4 years of experience in the field. With a degree in Biology and prior work experience in the laboratory of a food company, Lily has developed a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable health information. As a writer, she excels at creating informative content on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, diet, safe pregnancy, children's health, medicine, cannabis, and health supplements. Her ultimate goal is to provide readers with accurate and valuable information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. LinkedIn

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Meet Lily Guion, a skilled health and medical writer with over 4 years of experience in the field. With a degree in Biology and prior work experience in the laboratory of a food company, Lily has developed a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable health information. As a writer, she excels at creating informative content on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, diet, safe pregnancy, children's health, medicine, cannabis, and health supplements. Her ultimate goal is to provide readers with accurate and valuable information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. LinkedIn