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What Is the Relationship between Maca and Diabetes?

By Brandon May
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Maca is a root vegetable or plant native to areas of Peru and Bolivia that has long been used as an alternative medical approach to many ailments and disorders. Research dealing with maca and diabetes shows that compounds in the root may have certain blood sugar-regulating effects in some people. The use of maca for diabetes control is common in some alternative healing programs with individuals often using the fresh root, or its dried and powdered form, in foods and cooking. Most doctors continue to advocate the use of conventional medical treatments for blood sugar control in diabetics, as the full effects of maca and diabetes treatment are unknown.

The use of maca in alternative medicine has long been associated with libido and energy promotion, but further analysis suggests it has a role in diabetes treatment. Some research on the relationship between maca and diabetes shows that compounds in the maca root can help keep blood sugar controlled in type 2 diabetics. Blood sugar is often lowered with the secretion of the hormone insulin, and most research suggests that maca may help with the distribution of this hormone. Although research is minimal and not conclusive, most studies indicate maca's ability to help cells become more sensitive to the effects of insulin, which leads to better blood glucose control.

Researchers are unsure about the exact mechanisms by which maca and diabetes are related, yet many suggest it may play a role in future diabetes treatment. Given enough evidence on its effectiveness for diabetes control, maca may show promise in helping diabetics fight inflammation associated with uncontrolled blood sugar. This is mainly due to the fact that maca contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The fiber in maca may also contribute to controlling diabetes, as dietary fiber has been shown to keep blood sugar levels under control.

It is also suggested that the relationship between maca and diabetes can result in stronger endurance during exercise. Studies have shown that intense exercise is important for keeping cells healthy and sensitive to insulin, therefore keeping blood sugar at healthy levels. Along with a healthy diet, exercise program and conventional medical advice, most doctors agree that the use of maca is relatively safe for most individuals. It is not suggested that maca be used as a sole treatment for diabetes, as this may cancel out established, proven techniques that can safely control diabetes and its symptoms.

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 anon1007210 — On Jun 17, 2022

I have been a diagnosed Type 2 diabetic for almost 20 years, the past 3 years on insulin. I began taking Maca for non-diabetic reasons, and found by accident that Maca can lower insulin resistance (which is often a component of Type 2 diabetes).

The "accidental discovery" took the form of me becoming hypoglycemic after several days (4?) of taking one teaspoon of Maca powder per day. My blood sugar fell so low that I thought a call to paramedics was going to be required. It took a question from my wife to sort out the mystery. "Do you think this could be the Maca?" she asked.

Yes, it definitely was the Maca! I dropped my insulin use from 116 units per day to 80 units per day (now at 92 units) because of the "Maca effect"). I can make no claims about the health benefits of Maca, but I can state as a certainty that, if you are insulin resistant, Maca may decrease the resistance by such an amount that you may encounter a life threatening situation.

So if you are a diabetic taking substantial amounts of insulin, use great caution in your use of Maca and make sure you are equipped to deal with persistent low blood sugar levels that could cause you to lose consciousness. That's my 2 cents.

By anon1005568 — On Sep 26, 2021

The mechanism of Maca working is twofold: the fiber and secondly and most importantly, is raising testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels are directly linked to belly fat, diabetes and conversion to estrogen. Nowadays especially for men, there is a testosterone crisis and there is no good explanation for it. 30 year olds are having the testosterone levels of 80 year olds. Yes women have testosterone as well, and there iarehealth problems associated with low testosterone levels in women.

By anon1005410 — On Aug 22, 2021

I took maca and had like rashes in my mouth and under my tongue which disappeared before morning but it regulated my blood sugar. Should I continue or stop?

By anon285952 — On Aug 18, 2012

I was told to try Maca for its hormone balancing effects. I am perimenopausal. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a drop in my blood glucose numbers. I have decreased my basal insulin units from 25 to 22 units and I need to decrease it again. Therefore, I googled Maca and insulin and found this article.

By serenesurface — On Jan 18, 2012

@fify-- I've been taking maca powder for the past six months and there is a huge improvement in the way I feel and my blood sugar. Maca really does balance out blood sugar. My blood sugar has been constantly low since I've been taking it. My medication was already lowering my blood sugar but sometimes it would lower it too much making me feel really hungry and weak. I would feel like fainting and would crave sweets and carbohydrates.

Since I've been taking maca, I haven't felt like this at all. I don't feel extremely hungry and I don't crave sweets as much. Maca is said to stabilize insulin levels so this must be the reason why it's helping.

I absolutely recommend maca supplements. I haven't had any bad side effects or counteractions with my other medications from it. But make sure to check with your doctor first because it might affect different people differently.

By candyquilt — On Jan 18, 2012

@fify-- I've just started using maca supplements so I'm not sure if it's helping to balance my blood sugar yet. I haven't seen a decrease in my blood sugar but it's only been a few days. I suppose it's to early to see results about that. I can definitely say that it is improving my energy levels though and I do feel better in terms of my mood as well.

I had a lot of energy yesterday and was able to finish all of my errands and come home and cook which is very rare for me. Generally I'm too tired to run around so much in one day. I think that maca has to do with it.

I'm taking 1000mg of maca daily. It's in capsule form and is made from dry maca root. I didn't look up the dose, I'm just following the directions on the product which said 1-2 capsules per day. And each capsule has 1000mg of maca root.

By fify — On Jan 17, 2012

I've just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and have started using medication. It has been a shock for me because despite there being family members with diabetes on both sides of my family, I've developed the condition much earlier than I expected to. Now that I'm getting over the initial shock, I would like to learn more about some alternative treatments that I could use in addition to allopathy.

Maca really sounds very promising. I know that nothing is proven as of yet but it definitely seems like it's worth a try. What is the recommended daily dose or amount that I should take?

Has anyone tried it as a supplement before? In what form did you use it? And do I need to worry about any counteractions with my current diabetes medication?

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