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food / travel

Maca, The Natural Viagra Of The Incas

The South American root has been shown to boost energy for athletes, increase fertility for women, and enhance a man's sex drive.

Maca power
Maca power
Marina Gambier

LIMA - The Maca root has been growing for more than 2,000 years in the highest mountains of Peru, but only recently was it found to have certain notable medicinal properties.

The very existence of this root only began to be talked about in 2001, after Cienciano, a little-known Peruvian soccer team won the South American Soccer Cup after defeating the mighty River Plate from Argentina.

What caught everyone’s attention was the extraordinary physical performance of the Peruvian team. By the end of the tournament, it looked almost as if they had barely broken a sweat. Their secret? They took maca before every match.

There are reports that NASA includes maca in astronaut’s diets. Its scientific name is Lepidium peruvianm, also popularly known as Peruvian ginseng, huto-huto, chichira or cholo Viagra.

According to Jorge Alonso, President of the Latin American Society of Phytomedicine, there are around 130 species of maca around the world, 15 of which are in Peru, although they also grow in the Chilean Andes, Bolivia, and Colombia.

This plant is so resistant that it survives and reproduces in extreme climatic conditions – even when it is freezing or even hailing. Clinical tests were recently launched to research the effects and posology of the plant.

Apart from proven energy-enhancing effects, it has been shown to enhance sexual performance in men, and increase fertility and reduce menopause symptoms in women. It has a positive affect on prostate disorders and improves cognitive disorders (memory, reflexes, learning) in the brain, as well as providing many nutritional benefits.

Long lasting effects

“All these effects have been proven and are being studied today through clinical trials," Alonso says. "Thanks to this research we are able to leave the empirical knowledge stage to get to the scientific stage. The soccer team provided us with proof of maca’s effects. The second most important discovery was its sexual benefits – a great advancement because for years scientists have been looking for a natural alternative to Viagra.”

Aside from consuming maca, the Incas and neighboring communities would feed their animals with the root, which would also aid the reproduction of cattle.

“The experiences of humans with maca have proven positive. For instance, it is very useful for diabetics who tend to have decreased sexual performance. If we compare it to Viagra, the results are not as spectacular or fast. But the plant shows a prolonged effect that goes on for many days after the treatment has ended,” says Alonso.

Today you can find maca in some pharmacies, herbal and health food stores in South America. It normally comes in capsules, drops or powder, but tincture drops have the most efficacy. Be careful with dosage, it can be dangerous for people with hypertension if more than the recommended dose is ingested.

There are some simple recipes with maca, but it is always advised to consume it in minimal quantities and preferably at the beginning of the day.

A maca recipe:

Vegan maca mousse

Blend 200 grams of fresh tofu, two bananas, one teaspoon of maca, honey, ginger and cardamom together.

Serve into small bowls and freeze.

Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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