High blood pressure is often described as a chronic condition. Most people develop high blood pressure gradually, experiencing a slight increase in the force of blood along the arterial walls year after year. Treating this condition often comes down to lifestyle changes, mostly involving diet and exercise. Some people, however, turn to alternative therapies to lower their blood pressure. While some supplements have shown promise in improving this condition, maca root is not one of them.
Although maca contains compounds that may benefit your health, no solid evidence exists to support its use in treating high blood pressure. Any beneficial results are anecdotal at best. In fact, for some people, maca root could have a negative impact on blood pressure.
A study published in the March 2008 “Food and Chemical Toxicology,” a journal for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, found that maca could affect blood pressure. Individuals taking 0.6 grams -- 600 milligrams -- of maca powder each day experienced a moderate increase in diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure indicates the force of blood on the arteries between heartbeats. This could be especially problematic for someone already dealing with hypertension.
Therapeutic doses of maca root can vary but the standard amount is 450 milligrams, three times a day. This means you are taking 1,350 milligrams, which is over twice the amount that caused the increase in diastolic blood pressure in participants in the aforementioned study. Current research does not indicate whether or not the increase in blood pressure is dose dependent; thus, talk to your doctor before taking a maca supplement to improve any medical condition, not just blood pressure.
Not enough is known about the use of maca during pregnancy. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding may want to avoid this supplement until further research is done. It is also shown to cause goiter in people with thyroid conditions, particularly when taken on a low-iodine diet.
Instead of self-prescribing maca to improve blood pressure, consult your doctor to determine the best approach for treatment. Most medical professionals will tell you to improve your diet with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, plus moderate amounts of low-fat dairy and lean meats. It is also important to limit your intake of sodium to no more than 1,500 milligrams daily and increase physical activity to at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.