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Maca: The South American Medicinal Plant
Questions and Answers with Dr. Viana Muller

by Mary Shomon

After my multi-part interview with Dr. Viana Muller, discussing South American herbs that can help with hormonal imbalances, Dr. Muller has received numerous questions from my readers. Most of the questions have concerned maca, an herbal root remedy that is believed to stimulate the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to better balance the entire endocrine system. Here, she answers some of the most frequent and common questions she received regarding maca.

Dear Dr. Muller:

I read the interview with Dr. Viana Muller on the About Thyroid site and decided to try the Royal Maca, taking 3 capsules a day--one with each meal, since I am hypothyroid. I strted to feel warmer after only one day, but not uncomfortably so. I am usually a cold person. Is this an effect of the maca? Could it work so quickly? After a week of taking it, Idefinitely had more energy. Now it has been three months since I started on the maca and my menstrual cycle immediately went from 35 days to 28 days. The first one was still heavy and clotted. ... The last one I had was only five days long and was very light. I am giving it to all my friends who complain about any problems. Thank you.

Dr. Muller Responds:

Yes, amazingly enough, people sometimes experience a significant difference when they are taking maca even on the same day, as you did. I've talked with women who have felt their intense hot flashes get less intense a few hours after taking their first Royal Maca whole root extract capsules. But you are not in the majority. Usually the first changes will be noticed in about four days, and sometimes not for a week. Changes in either feel warmer, more energized, or the subsiding of hot flashes.

Dear Dr. Muller:

Do you have any information on maca in relation to menstrual cramps? I am 33 years old and have suffered from very severe menstrual cramps for my entire adult life. The only thing that makes my cramps manageable is Ibuprofen in large doses (800-1000 mg).

Dr. Muller Responds:

Severe menstrual cramps probably do indicate some kind of hormonal imbalance, although it may be subtle. Doctors tend not to take them very seriously (most doctors are still men!) We have numerous reports of women whose menstrual cramps have been lessened considerably. I even have letters from women who had suffered from severe menstrual cramps who told me they didn't realize they were starting to bleed and weren't prepared! In all of these reported cases, the women took only 1/4 tsp. or 2 capsules a day of certified organic maca root extract powder.

Dear Dr. Muller:

I am taking both Royal Maca and and Royal Camu and after just 5 days I can tell a difference. My body temperature appears to have increased one degree (from 96.5 to 97.5). I will keep you informed of further improvements."

Dr. Muller Responds:

This woman had very fast results from the maca. With many women it takes a bit longer. She had told me in a previous e mail that she had had a lifelong tendency towards depression, as well as being hypothyroid, so I had suggested that she take the Royal Camu in addition to the Royal Maca. I include the next letter because often people who suffer from hypothyroidism also suffer from adrenal insuffiency.

Dear Dr. Muller:

"I suffer from adrenal insufficiency. The maca does seem to have helped. My cortisol levels were at 0.1 ng/ml. ...Two months later my cortisol levels went up to 3.1 ng/ml (normal range for morning cortisol is 3-8 ng/ml). Now I would like to get off of my hormone replacement therapy (I had a hysterectomy). How should I go about it?"

Dr. Muller Responds:

I was delighted to get this e mail, as many women tell me how energized they feel taking Royal Maca but it is rare that they have before and after laboratory tests to share! A number of women who have had hysterectomies have been able to use maca root extract powder/capsules instead of pharmaceutical HRT, but I always advise them to do so with the assistance of a knowledgeble health care practitioner. The problem is there are not a large number of such doctors/nutritionists who have much experience with using the maca root therapeutically with their patients.

Dear Dr. Muller:

Thank you for providing Maca Root for Americans. I have Hashimoto's disease have been taking it for 10 days now. I just got the results of my yesterday's blood test. My thyroid numbers have improved already. I had a test 2 weeks ago (prior to starting on Royal Maca) and one yesterday. My T4 levels went from 3.9 to 5.0 (this was and is while being on 4 Armour Thyroid 60 mg./day). The TSH scores (pituitary) only improved slightly from .10 to .11 but it was still an improvement."

Dr. Muller Responds:

Well, I always get surprised when I see changes happening this quickly, but I shouldn't be surprised. The orginal animal tests that were done on maca show a significant change in ovarian and testicular function (infemale and male rats) in only 72 hours! Since there are clinical reports with lab tests to back them up of improvement in thyroid and adrenal function aswell, in a few days or a few weeks, it is appears that maca is working about the level of the hypothalamus/pituitary axis. However, the mechanism of action is not clear, just how this is accomplished. Having said that, I hasten to point out that everyone's thyroid problem is a little different and in addition there are great differences in the way people respond to herbs, to foods -- even to exercise. One size definitely does not fit all. Some women are experiencing a great improvement in menstrual regularity and menstrual pain and others are experiencing a tremendous increase in energy but still have irregular periods after starting to take organic whole root maca extract powder or capsules. Some women have been able to reduce the thyroid medication--they start getting symptoms of being overmedicated and consult their physicians on dosage. I got a phone call from a woman last week who after taking organic Royal Maca Extract Powder (3 caps a day) for only four days, had a TSH level so low that her physician cut her thyroid medication in half. Other women are not able to reduce their meds (based on the results of their lab tests) but experience many improvements in their hypothyroid symptoms. There is also a group of women who don't experience any significant difference taking the maca, and some of these women have contacted me too. In a majority of cases, there was evidence that they had a sluggish liver and/or bowel and needed to detoxify their liver/kidney/intestinal organs to experience a greater sense of well being and improvement in the functioning of their endocrine glands. In those cases, I suggested that they alternate taking Royal Break-Stone Tea and Royal Cat's Claw Tea.

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Please keep your e mails coming with your questions and to share your success stories with South American herbs. Dr. Muller can be reached at wholeworldbotan@aol.com.

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