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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Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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