Maca

It looks like a turnip. Don’t be deceived by appearances, though.

MacaMaca (Lepidium meyenii) is grown for its root, and as a food item, but because it isn’t often found in that form outside of its native Peru, I have it listed with the herbs. Just so you know.

It’s one of those plants that have many purported benefits: improves physical stamina, cognitive functions, and energy levels; helps with age-related issues such as menopause and prostate enlargement; and even regulates insulin, weight, and blood pressure. Though it has no relation to ginseng, it is sometimes called Peruvian ginseng for its panacea-like folk remedy repertoire. It’s a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, so most or all of this may indeed be true. (It should also be avoided by the same people who need to avoid that group of vegetables.) General energy improvement and weight loss seem to be pretty well agreed-upon effects, making a pretty handy thing to have about.

More closely related to our interests here are claims regarding libido. Though studies are limited, as tends to be the case with herbs and folk remedies, it appears that it at least has no negative effects. Super helpful, I know… but it is rumored to be good against anxiety and depression, and antidepressive items tend to clobber sex drive, so it’s actually a notable trait. In fact, it seems to help remove the bad effects on libido caused by anti-depressants of the SSRI variety.

Studies and anecdotal testing do, however, report distinct benefits surrounding the topic, for both sexes. Erection frequency is improved; sperm count increases; sexual function in menopausal women is helped; and while I am skeptical, it would appear to help breast firmness. Male users report a distinct increase in both libido and staying power.

The strangest thing about all this is that all science indicates that it doesn’t (directly) affect hormones at all. How does it work? I have no idea. But it does seem to do a body good. Considering all the health benefits, it’s a pity the Garden is too low in altitude to be a good place to grow it.

Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.