Ashwagandha vs Maca

Ashwagandha and Maca are notably popular supplements that have a variety of health claims attributed to them. With some claims having much more scientific support than others.

Aside from the stress and sleep related uses of Ashwagandha the most commonly cited reasons for taking either Maca or Ashwagandha are in relation to men’s health.

Both Ashwagandha and Maca do have some overlap in their uses, and there are some studies that specifically look at combining the two ingredients for the aforementioned men’s issues.

Generally speaking Ashwagandha is used for mood regulation, sleep, stress and hormone related reasons often promoted as a natural testosterone booster (and there is some evidence for this). [1]

On the other hand, Maca tends to have claims around mood, which is where the two overlap, energy and libido, [2] the latter being where it has been studied in combination with Ashwagandha (with positive results, although there are limited studies). Maca however has evidence to show that it does not in fact raise testosterone levels, despite what some supplement manufacturers claim. [3]

Seeing as both can potentially offer symptomatic relief in regards to issues caused by conditions like low testosterone, we can see why they are commonly combined in supplements of that type.

The Main Benefits of Ashwagandha

  1. Calming the Mind: Ashwagandha acts as a natural adaptogen, having been shown to reduce cortisol build up. Cortisol being the hormone responsible for stress. Thus, helping to protect the body from the effects of stress and promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation. Research shows that ashwagandha can support brain health, improve memory, and enhance cognitive function. [4]
  2. Improved Sleep: Ashwagandha supplementation has been shown result in faster times to fall asleep and a less disturbed sleep in clinical trials. [5]
  3. Testosterone Boosting: Several studies have shown that Ashwagandha can have a testosterone boosting effect in otherwise healthy men, as well as showing a performance increase in several strength tests. And of course stress and sleep related issues can make testosterone levels lower as well, so improving that can have a compounding effect. [6]
  4. Boosting the Immune System: Ashwagandha has immune-modulating properties, meaning it can help regulate and strengthen the immune system. It supports cell-mediated immunity and acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body against free radicals and oxidative damage. [7]

How Much Ashwagandha Do I Need?

Most studies suggest that for stress and sleep related issues 300mg per day is effective (according to the human trials), whereas 600mg is required for it’s testosterone related effects.

The Benefits of Maca

  1. Mood Enhancement: Maca has been traditionally used to support mental health and balance emotional well-being. It helps to improve antioxidant levels in the brain, promoting a positive mood and overall emotional wellness. [8]
  2. Sexual Health Support: For centuries, maca has been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility booster. While scientific research is ongoing, the studies we do have suggest that maca can enhance libido and improve sexual health in both men and women. It has also been shown to improve erectile concerns in men through blood flow. [9]
  3. Antioxidant Power: Maca contains compounds known as glucosinolates and macamides, which possess antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help protect against free radicals and oxidative stress, benefiting the heart, brain, reproductive system, and overall body health.  There was also some metabolic increases that came up when researching the anti oxidant impacts of Maca, but the evidence is as a side note in a couple of studies rather than anything substantial. [10]
  4. Energy Boost: If you're seeking a natural energy boost without relying on caffeine, maca may be the answer. Athletes have used maca to enhance energy levels, improve performance, and aid in muscle recovery. Studies have shown that maca supplementation can lead to improved endurance and athletic performance. [11]
  5. Nutrient-Rich: Maca is a nutrient powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It contains carbohydrates for energy, fiber for gut health, protein for tissue repair, and an array of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc, which are vital for various bodily functions. [12]

How Much Maca Should I take?

Maca doses are anything around 1.2g to 2g. Although there are certain extracts that can reduce this by focusing on the active ingredients specifically.

Maca vs Ashwagandha Side Effects

Maca is typically well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience mild side effects such as digestive issues, headaches, or changes in blood pressure. It is also important to note that maca belongs to the brassica family, so individuals with allergies to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower may experience an allergic reaction.

Ashwagandha is generally safe, but it may cause mild gastrointestinal upset or drowsiness in some people. It is also not recommended for individuals with autoimmune diseases or those taking certain medications like sedatives or immunosuppressants. Additionally, ashwagandha may interact with thyroid medications, so individuals with thyroid conditions should exercise caution and consult with their healthcare provider. It is also far more likely that people will have stomach issues with ashwagandha than with Maca.

What is Best Ashwagandha or Maca?

While ashwagandha and maca each offer unique advantages, it's important to note that one is not superior to the other. The choice between these superfoods depends on your specific health and wellness goals. If you're looking to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve sleep, ashwagandha may be your go-to.

On the other hand, if you're seeking enhanced energy, sexual health support, and mood elevation, maca is generally better.


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