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Maca Root and Ashwagandha: Benefits of Taking Them Together

Key Takeaways:

  • Ashwagandha and maca root are traditional adaptogens with stress, fatigue, and libido-enhancing benefits.
  • Ashwagandha offers hormone regulation, muscle growth, fertility, and sleep improvement.
  • Maca boosts energy, menopausal symptom relief, semen quality, and erectile function.
  • Combined, they enhance stress response, testosterone levels, muscle strength, libido, and may lower blood glucose.
  • Consult healthcare professionals before combining for personalized safety and efficacy.
  • Generally safe in small doses, effects and side effects vary by individual.

Maca root and ashwagandha are two botanical superfoods (often also termed adaptogens of tonic herbs) that indigenous cultures in various parts of the world have long used to support their well-being.

Ashwagandha has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine in India and maca root in the Andes mountains of Peru for millennia. They've become popular among westerners in recent decades as people have sought natural ways to manage issues such as (but not limited to) fatigue, stress, and sex drive.


    ashwagandha vs maca root

    What Are the Benefits of Taking Maca and Ashwagandha Together?

    Ashwagandha and maca have some similarities but also some unique and different properties. Ashwagandha is the more studied of the two, however, both are believed to be adaptogenic herbs with great antioxidant power.

    Ashwagandha is a primary adaptogen that current research indicates may be able to help regulate hormones, have cardiorespiratory benefits, develop muscle mass, enhance male fertility and improves sleep quality.

    The current school of thought is that maca root has been used to potentially help boost energy levels, alleviate menopausal symptoms, improve semen quality and reduce erectile dysfunction.

    Essentially, Maca and Ashwagandha are both herbal powerhouses that have gained popularity for their potential health benefits. But before we go into detail about each of their uses and benefits, let’s explore the potential benefits of taking them together:

    Enhanced Stress Management

    Both Maca and Ashwagandha are renowned for their adaptogenic properties, which help the body adapt to stressors and promote a balanced stress response. Hence, taking them together may contribute to better stress management.

    Testosterone Boost and Muscle Strength

    Ashwagandha and maca have been found to potentially help increase testosterone levels in men and improve sexual health. Ashwagandha has also been associated with improved vitality and strength. 

    Supports muscle size and strength

    Combining Ashwagandha and Maca could potentially amplify the individual benefits of each herb, offering enhanced energy, stress relief, and hormonal balance.

    Libido Enhancement and Menopause Symptoms

    Maca is more nutritious and can possibly be better for improving libido. While Ashwagandha may help reduce stress levels and improve cognitive function. Plus, it may also help with menopause symptoms.

    Lower blood glucose

    Both appear to have some effect on lowering blood glucose levels and may be effective in diabetes management. However, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to confirm the effects of taking both together, as it may lead to additional implications such as excessively lowering your glucose levels.

    Now, let's go over the specific uses and effects of both ashwagandha and maca to help you understand how these two combined can provide you with the maximum benefits.

    Both ashwagandha and maca root are plant extracts with adaptogenic properties to help bodies adapt to biological, physical, or emotional stress. However, each has its distinctive nutritional value and health benefits - find out the key difference and benefits below:

    ashwagandha vs maca root

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    What Is Ashwagandha? Overview, Uses, and Health Benefits

    The Bircher Bar has an extensive library of well-researched content on Ashwagandha -covering everything from its health benefits and what time of day is best to take it right through to how long it stays in your system and whether or not taking it with black pepper helps - as well as some other in-depth comparisons with widely-used adaptogens such as rhodiola, L-theanine, ginseng & melatonin.

    As such - we will only provide a brief overview of the key uses and benefits of Ashwagandha below, but urge you to spend some time following these links and diving deeper into what interests you.

    Overview:

    Ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub native to India, Africa, and parts of the Middle East, has served as a traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India for centuries to foster body, mind, spirit, and environmental balance. Some call the shrub Indian Ginseng or Indian Winter Cherry, but its scientific name is Withania somnifera.

    Uses and Health Benefits

    Many people believe that Ashwagandha berries, leaves and roots have many health benefits. Science has documented the plant's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-stimulating properties across many different clinical trials.

    People typically take Ashwagandha as supplements, teas, powders, gummies, tinctures, or in their raw forms.

    Some of these benefits include:

    1.) Reduction of Stress and Anxiety

    Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels to reduce stress and related anxiety-related problems. In a 2019 double-blind clinical study in India with 60 adult participants, researchers sought to determine the impact of a high-concentration Ashwagandha root extract on stress, anxiety, cortisol levels, and sleep quality over eight weeks.

    They found a significant reduction in stress and cortisol levels and an increase in sleep quality among the groups that took 250 mg and 600 mg of Ashwagandha extract daily as opposed to the placebo group.

    2.) Improvement of Male Fertility and Libido in Both Sexes

    Indian researchers have found that Ashwagandha has aphrodisiac properties and improves stress-induced male infertility. There are also studies indicating that it may improve testosterone levels to increase sex drive as well. Ashwagandha also has an antioxidant property that prevents damage and death of sperm cells leading to better sperm count and quality.

    Other studies on sexual function in women have also shown that Ashwagandha may help to improve women's arousal, lubrication, and orgasms.

    3.) Increase in Muscle Mass and Strength

    A 2015 study on the effect of Ashwagandha on muscles revealed that men could gain muscle strength and muscle size in their arms and chests after taking Ashwagandha. The men also had a notable reduction in body fat percentage and post-workout muscle damage.

    4.) Support of Heart Health and Regulation of Blood Sugar Levels

    Ashwagandha also helps increase VO2 max levels, improving cardiorespiratory endurance during physical activity, according to a 2015 double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled study of 50 healthy athletic adults.

    While Ashwagandha has been used "since ancient times" to manage diabetes mellitus, a 2020 review study and meta-analysis of 6 in-vitro, 13 pre-clinical and five clinical studies showed that treatment with W. somnifera significantly restored glucose, HbA1c, insulin, lipid profile, serum and oxidative stress markers.

    However, researchers called for additional well-designed randomized-controlled trial(s) with expanded sample sizes and durations.

    maca root powder

    What Is Maca? Overview, Uses, and Health Benefits

    Overview

    Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a cruciferous vegetable originating in the high-altitude Andes Mountains in Peru, has traditionally served the Andean people as a food spice and natural medicine to treat various health conditions. You may hear it called Peruvian ginseng, Lepidium peruvianum, or Ginseng Andin.

    Two types of maca have been the subject of scientific study: black and red.

    A 2016 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study compared the effects not only of spray-dried extracts of black and red maca, but also the altitude of the user. Researchers found improvement in self-perception of sexual desire, mood, and energy, and reduced chronic mountain sickness for subjects consuming each maca type (with slight differences), and black maca reduced blood glucose levels.

    ashwagandha vs maca root

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    Uses and Health Benefits

    The root is the edible part of the maca herb. It is ground up and sold as a powder, gummies, capsules, or made into a tincture.

    Some of the potential health benefits of the maca root include:

    1.) Reduction of Fatigue by Increasing Energy Levels

    The above-mentioned 2016 clinical trial on the efficacy of maca showed that the maca root may help to boost energy levels. During the 12-week study, participants who took 3 grams of maca per day reported experiencing more energy than those who did not.

    2.) Reduction of Anxiety

    According to a 2014 study, maca extract was indicated to help reduce self-reported symptoms of post-menopausal anxiety - thought to be due to containing flavonoids that can help to regulate cortisol levels which improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression.

    3.) Improvement in Sexual Desire

    Various scientific studies have shown maca may increase sex drive. In one double-blind study, the male participants who received daily maca supplements reported heightened sexual desire within eight weeks.

    Some studies also suggest maca may improve semen quality, reduce erectile dysfunction, and relieve symptoms of menopause.

    4.) Reduction in Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms

    A study performed on menopausal women showed a significant reduction in menopause symptoms after taking maca. The women reported experiencing fewer hot flashes and night sweats when they took maca root.

    Again - most researchers agree that the studies on maca root health benefits are still in their infancy and require a more thorough investigation before certainties can be established.

    ashwagandha vs maca root

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    Ashwagandha vs Maca: Which Is Right For You?

    In addition to the benefits they share that we listed above, each has distinct advantages.

    Ashwagandha may benefit you if:

    • You want to improve the quality of your sleep.
    • You are an athlete looking to build muscle mass and improve your athletic performance.
    • You want to reduce inflammation in your body.
    • You want to improve your memory and attention span.

    Maca may benefit you if:

    • You want to boost your energy levels and improve stamina.
    • You want to increase your semen's volume and motility.
    • You want to reduce feelings of depression by increasing dopamine levels.
    • You want to reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes.

    Maca and Ashwagandha Supplements

    When you buy ashwagandha and maca supplements, it's crucial to research their authenticity, toxicity, purity and shelf life. There are many producers on the market looking to make a quick buck by selling cheap, nasty and potentially harmful extracts.

    The suppliers we’ve recommended in this article are the ones we trust and use on a regular basis for exactly the reasons we’ve just mentioned. You can read more on why we believe SuperFeast and Teelixir produce the best ashwagandha)

    We also highly recommend talking to your healthcare provider before starting any supplement for proper guidance on dosage, side effects, and whether the supplement is right for you.

    ashwagandha root

    FAQs

    Can I take Ashwagandha and Maca Together?

    Yes, you can combine maca and ashwagandha in your diet together. Individually, maca and ashwagandha have different benefits and combining them will give you the full muscle-building and stress-fighting benefits of ashwagandha along with maca root's energy-stimulating and aphrodisiac properties.

    Which is Better: Ashwagandha or Maca Root?

    The best herb for you will depend on what you personally need in your health and wellness journey. For example, ashwagandha is indicated to be better for increasing sex drive, muscle buildup, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep. Maca is thought to be able to help you with things such as increased energy levels, supporting reproductive health, improving memory power, and increasing bone density.

    If you’d like to learn more about ashwagandha, be sure to check out our review of the best ashwagandha supplements in the market!

    What Are the Side Effects of Taking Maca Root or Ashwagandha?

    Both maca and ashwagandha are considered safe in small doses for most people - however, ashwagandha has some side effects reported by some users in certain cases that are worth knowing. Taking maca root and ashwagandha together doesn’t appear to increase the risk of side effects based on the data that is currently avaiable.

    Does Taking Maca Root and Ashwagandha Lead to Weight Gain?

    No, maca root does not appear to cause weight gain - and neither does ashwagandha. However, they can both promote overall health in ways that support weight management.

    ashwagandha vs maca root

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    Final Thoughts

    Both maca root powder and ashwagandha are brilliant tonic herbs that have been used by human cultures for millennia now to treat a wide variety of different illnesses and ailments.

    Modern science is beginning to reveal some of the mechanisms behind how they work and what they do in the body.

    Both herbs contain a number of similarities - however, they also possess some unique properties that make one a better choice than the other depending on your unique situation and goals.

    As they work well together as complementary supplements, many people take both simultaneously to access all of the unique benefits and amplify similar properties!

    Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

    Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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