Have you heard of maca?
It’s this root veggie from the Andes that is said to be a superfood, packed full of vitamins and minerals and all kinds of wondrous nutrients and benefits.
The big jazz in maca is supposed to come from the fact that it helps to balance your hormones.
It’s what they call an “adaptogen”. It doesn’t increase or decrease one specific hormone, but it gives your body what it needs in order to “regulate” its own hormones.
It does this by stimulating your pituitary and hypothalamus to balance the entire endocrine system.
Sounds magical and perfect right?
Because, of course, as adult women with relentless hormonal acne, we know that anything that balances the hormones is going to lead to better skin and less acne.
And yes – maca is indeed purported to help a lot of women with acne!
But Is Maca Really All Magic When it Comes to Acne?
Now, since the beginning of The Love Vitamin (which was early 2011!! woot! Happy 6 years TLV!), I have been asked periodically what I think about maca for acne.
And here we are… six years later. And I’m finally going to talk about it!
To be honest, I never got into it or paid it much attention because back in the early days of TLV, I had read around about it and got the impression that:
It’s a crapshoot.
Sure, it seems to help some people with their skin and their hormones. But for a lot of people it makes it worse.
However, now that I’m much more experienced in the world of acne and natural treatments for it… I’ve come to realize that that’s kind of the case for most things.
What works for one may not work for another.
And it’s not necessarily a reason to toss the baby out with the bathwater!
So is maca worth trying?
Maca Is Most Helpful If You Have Estrogen Dominance
After doing a lot of reading around about maca, I’ve gotten the impression that maca is most helpful if the imbalance that you have is estrogen dominance (ie. higher bad estrogen relative to progesterone levels).
Because maca stimulates your hormone production, it can increase your progesterone (and good estrogen as well).
However, it also stimulates your body to make more testosterone. For most people, that’s a good thing! It increases libido and feels energizing.
However, DHT is a potent form of testosterone that is actually the hormone that ends up creating acne. It gets converted in your body from testosterone. If you have high testosterone or high androgen levels, there’s more chance for your body to convert it to DHT and cause acne.
However, purportedly if you have high estrogen relative to your progesterone levels (ie. estrogen dominance), it also influences more of a conversion to DHT (thus, causing acne).
So, basically, if you have acne because your androgens (male hormones) are elevated, then maca can possibly stimulate more male hormones and make it worse.
If you are low on progesterone or good estrogen, then it can boost that and improve your estrogen to progesterone ratio. This will then coax your body away from converting to DHT, and acne will hopefully improve.
But Wait… How Do I Know Which Hormonal Balance I Have?
You can take a guess based on symptoms that you experience along with the acne. I guide you through this process in my Female Hormonal Acne Guide.
The best way though is to get a saliva hormone test done. This will tell you exactly what’s going on so you can stop guessing with supplements and get to the root of things quicker. It will save you frustration, I promise.
Saliva testing is also something I explore in my Hormonal Acne Guide (including where to get it done and how to get a discount on it exclusively through The Love Vitamin).
I Want to Try Maca. How Do I Take It?
I don’t really blame you. After all, it apparently has myriads of health benefits along with its hormone balancing magic including:
- Amps up energy levels (& sexy times)
- Supports tired adrenal glands
- Keeps your moods more stable
- Enhances memory
- Boosts your immune system
- Protects against osteoporosis
Sounds pretty sweet!
Here are some things you should know:
- Maca is sold in the west as a freeze dried powder. There are two kinds – raw and gelatinized. Get the gelatinized kind. It’s undergone a process to remove most of the starch, making it much easier to digest and absorb the nutrients from.
- Maca is super powerful stuff. You gotta start small and let your body get used to this powerful supplement or you will regret it! (probably!)
- There doesn’t seem to be a standard dose that people take – but it’s advised to start with 1/2 a teaspoon daily and work your way up to 2 to 3 teaspoons. If you get symptoms as you increase, dial back a bit until it eases and then try increasing again.
- The easiest way to eat it is to add it to a green smoothie
- Cycle it a little bit. Take a week off from it here and there. And give yourself a month break after six months on maca.
- Avoid it if you’re pregnant. And be careful if you’re on HRT, at risk for breast cancer, or are on thyroid medication (ie. talk to your doctor).
- Since I know you’re going to ask – can you take maca with DIM supplements? (such as Estroblock). I don’t know, but I’ve seen supplements that contain both DIM and maca so I assume it’s ok.
Have you tried maca for acne? What was your experience? Please share in the comments below!