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What Are the Most Common Maca Side Effects?

By Nick Doniger
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The root plant maca is enjoyed by many for its supposed health benefits, chiefly its stimulation of the male and female libido. There are a few maca side effects, though many are considered minimal. Consumption of maca aids in adult male fertility, which is considered a positive side effect, though it may have a negative effect on those with thyroid diseases or those who practice a low-sodium diet. Allergies have been reported among people who take maca, though overdoses are considered extremely rare, if reported at all. Information is unknown regarding the effects of taking maca during pregnancy.

Belonging to the Brassicaceae, or mustard family, raw maca is a radish-like perennial root plant. It is often sold as a powder to be mixed with drinks, sauces, and yogurts, or to be sprinkled on food. Many who take it claim that it helps fight fatigue, increase male and female libido, stimulate the immune system, and improve memory.

Maca side effects are generally considered minimal. Some side effects are actually perceived to be of a positive nature. While maca is usually just taken to increase libido and energy, it may actually increase fertility in men. A human study among adult males in 2001 displayed significant increases in subjects' sperm counts, sperm motility, and seminal volume. Such results, however, did not differ between those administered higher doses versus those given lower doses.

There are a few possible negative side effects associated with the consumption of maca. Those who have thyroid diseases are advised to avoid the substance, as maca contains iodine, which aggravates the side effects associated with such disease. Additionally, those who practice a low-sodium diet may wish to refrain from using maca. A low-sodium diet, combined with the consumption of chemical glucosinolate found in maca, may increase the chance of developing goiters. It is possible that maca may also trigger insomnia.

Some other minimal negative maca side effects included hives and fatigue. The chances of experiencing a harmful overdose of maca is considered insignificant, as it has a very low degree of oral toxicity. No adverse reactions were reported in studies among rats who were administered higher than normal amounts of the substance. Additionally, there are no reported maca side effects regarding its interaction with any drugs.

Further experiments are required to discover any maca side effects associated with pregnancy. Studies have not yet been conducted regarding fetal interactions with maca or its effect on breast milk. Due to this ambiguity, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid consuming maca.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1000728 — On Dec 04, 2018

Same issue as well. Definitely have a yeast infection and was thinking maybe I consumed too much sugar somehow, which I don't usually consume. But I haven't. It's got to be the Maca Root Powder. So unfortunate. It has aided in me making a great coffee alternative drink. This is my second time dealing with Maca Root and having negative side effects. The first time I was spotting between periods. Arrrgh! And it's so tasty! Bye bye Maca!

By anon996303 — On Aug 09, 2016

I've taken maca a few months ago but inconsistently. I started them back up a couple of weeks ago regularly, and I noticed a yeast infection. Usually I can clear it up but this one has been stubborn and quite extreme! I never had side effects before while taking maca so I didn't even think that could be the case. Yesterday on accident I completely forgot to take a pill and this morning I didn't feel as uncomfortable down there as I have been.

But before reading the previous post, I was thinking about what may have caused this change. And the only thing I can think of is the lack of maca the previous day. That's when I decided to do some research on it and I must say reading these posts have helped me decide to discontinue its use and see what happens. Which sucks because I really feel balanced and happy when I take maca, but a yeast infection is not worth it!!

By anon996137 — On Jul 15, 2016

I started maca root powder two weeks ago and after a week, I got a bad yeast infection. I had to stop the use of maca when I went on a cleanse for a few days and then I restarted it just a couple days ago and I started noticing some slight irritation as if a yeast infection was starting up.

I'm pretty sure its the maca root and now that I have read others having the same reaction, it's time to say bye, which makes me sad since it gave my such natural energy.

But as a substitute I have started making hot chocolate using raw cacao powder, and was so surprised how much of a kick in energy, alertness and a sense of inner well being. I felt joyful and happy. It does have a lot of antioxidants and I read it can help with serotonin, so maybe that's why I felt so good?

By anon991169 — On Jun 01, 2015

Since starting maca, I have begen to swell up in the heat. I have since stopped the maca and now I don't swell. I don't understand why that is. It did stop my flashes and night sweats though.

By anon990540 — On Apr 27, 2015

I've also had a nasty yeast infection since starting maca. I haven't had one in years, and it just won't clear up with creams or Diflucan like it used to. I'm stopping the maca after reading this and hoping that will help!

By anon989592 — On Mar 13, 2015

I too, have had this side effect literally every time I've taken maca. I have since stopped in an attempt to figure out a way to combat the yeast infection but I have yet to find any research on why this is the case nor have I noticed too many people with the same issue.

By anon931353 — On Feb 08, 2014

Same here. I took a tsp of maca powder with a small pot of yogurt and a few days later I had to buy cream, tablets and the works for thrush.

By stoneMason — On Apr 05, 2013

@donasmrs-- Really?! I've never heard of that before and I haven't experienced it myself either.

The only side effect of maca I've experienced is gagging because I absolutely hate the flavor. I usually mix it in fruit juice, but I still taste the maca. I'm going to get the gelatinized version soon, maybe that tastes a bit better.

By donasmrs — On Apr 05, 2013

My friend is taking maca for fertility benefits and she said that she has larger breasts and buttocks because of it. It must be because of maca's effects on hormones.

By burcidi — On Apr 04, 2013

I'm not one-hundred percent sure that maca was the cause, but when I was on raw maca supplements, my yeast infection became a lot worse. First, I didn't think maca could be the reason so I went to my doctor and used my medications. After two weeks, the infection was still there and that's when I decided to quit the maca and see what would happen. Soon after I quit, the infection disappeared.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? Could maca be feeding yeast?

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