Maca root goes by many names, including maca-maca, maino, ayak chichira and ayak willku. It’s also called Peruvian ginseng, which can be misleading because maca is a vegetable and ginseng is an herb. Both have a reputation for giving big boosts of energy. But more research is needed to back this up. People in the Andes have grown maca for thousands of years. They use the root as a food supplement as well as a traditional medicine for everything from fertility problems to fragile bones and poor memory. In recent years, maca has been popping up more often on health food store shelves. Maca is claimed to be an adaptogenic plant, which means it gives your body the ability to adapt to or resist what’s going on in and around it, like anxiety, stress, and depression. Researchers don’t know exactly how maca works on the body. Some scientific evidence suggests that it can give you a shot of energy. Maca has a reputation as an aid for sex and reproductive issues. Some people believe it can rev up sex drive in men and women, boost sperm count, improve erections, and ease menopausal symptoms. The fact is that those claims are backed by little or no scientific evidence. A small number of studies have suggested that maca may help ease hot flashes and other postmenopausal symptoms in women. But the evidence isn’t robust. Some studies also found that women and men who took maca extracts showed a significant uptick in their self-reported levels of sexual desire. Other studies did not find this effect. What’s undisputed is maca’s nutritional benefits. It packs high levels of iron and iodine to promote healthy cells and to help keep your metabolism on track. Its big doses of potassium help digestion and make muscles happy. Maca is also rich in calcium, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.