I don’t think I’m alone talking about when one health fad or another decides to turn around and bite you.  Maca root bit me.  I wanted to talk about it, not just to raise awareness about maca root, but really just as a general voice of warning.  Really know what you’re ingesting.  Read up on the possible side effects.  I did a little bit of research but I sure could have done more.  I had a good friend have a similar reaction to having too much soy in her diet (she was an edamame lover) so I know this stuff just happens sometimes.

I love green smoothies.  I’m constantly on the hunt for new yummy things to put in my green smoothies, particularly protein powder.  In my search I found supermixme.


I don’t want to say anything negative about their company or their product-if anything the fact that I was consuming this every single day in my smoothie should be a testament to just how yummy their stuff is!  Cacao, Coconut and Maca is delicious together and I started adding it to my green smoothie every morning.  I did a quick read about maca and was hoping it would help balance my cortisol levels (my job does a lot of damage to my adrenals and I’m on the hunt to find things to fix my hormones).

After 2 weeks or so of taking the powder (I was taking half a dose daily, I wanted this yummy stuff to last!) I started to notice my sex drive falling.  I figured I was tired (also part of my jobs) but it continued to fall which is very strange for me.  Then I started getting more emotional-I just couldn’t keep it together.  Things that normally wouldn’t make me cry started making me cry.  I started to have less control over all of my emotions.  I stopped losing weight (I really only kind of was, let’s be honest BUT it was starting to budge).  Then I started bouncing back and forth between sad and happy in a maniac way.  It was then that I started to recognize this weird PMS feeling that I couldn’t seem to get out of.  It clicked.  I remembered being on estrogen-based birth control and having this type of feeling for the week of my period.  Only this wasn’t just a week.  This was all the time.

SEE MORE: What is Maca?

I figured this was it, this was menopause (my biological sisters went through menopause around this age).  Or was I pregnant? (I still have an IUD, but I also have 2 good friends that got knocked up with IUD’s so I’m beginning to lose faith in them) Then I thought I’d killed my adrenals.  It was my husband that said something about the powder.  I started doing research about maca. It turns out I’m not the first to have some weird side effects.

“Use of maca powder for extended periods can cause some to suffer from aggressiveness, anxiety, depression and emotional instability.”

Extracts from maca might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use these extracts.”

Changes in hormone levels can also lead to menstrual problems, decreased sex drive and weight gain or even hot flashes.”

Yep.  When put like that it 100% describes me for the last 2 months or so.  So I quit maca a few weeks ago and WOW.  Big difference.  It took almost 2 full weeks off before I started to feel different and now I’d say I’m back to only semi-crazy (so normal).

So yeah.  Don’t ingest things until you’ve done your full research.  It could make you a crazy person, and no one wants that.  Even if they are super-foods.

Commiserate with me and tell me I’m not the only one that’s done this to themselves?  Comment below if you’ve been taken advantage of by a super food:

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  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Ive tried 2 types of Maca. The first was the Maca root raw pill form, the first day i had a lot of energy and felt great, however, by the third day, i was starting to feel depressed about everything and would constantly cry at anything that would happen to me. I decided to stop the pills after 2 weeks or so and try the gelatinized maca root powder. The powder made me almost stoic, i felt like i had no feelings for the first few days. Then it put me in constant state of PMS all the time, and it would be even worse if i drank alcohol. For some reason the alcohol made my feelings even worse over very minor things. The only thing good about the powder is that my butt grew lol. But seriously, if you are even a little bit sensitive to anything like i am, really do your research and take it with caution. I haven’t felt like myself now for over a month and decided to quit the maca a few days ago. Cant wait to be back to normal.

    • Reply
      August 5, 2018 at 11:28 am

      So I’ve been taking maca for almost 10 years I think. Yes that’s right, 10 years. An herbalist suggested it to help with libido and regulation of hormones (I was 39 at the time and my hormones were out of whack). It did nothing for my libido and while it did initially help with energy that was a rollercoaster. At age 42 I started on natural hormone replacement, and at age 45 added thyroid medication into the mix. And yet I was so fatigued, had constant stomach issues, and reactions to many foods. Never once did I think it might all be caused by what I was putting into my daily smoothies (5 grams a day). I was doing all the right stuff according to my hormone sr (estrogen patch, progesterone pill, dhea, thyroid medication) but still felt like I plateaued at 80% energy. So just recently I started thinking about what was causing my constant stomachache. Came up with maca. I stopped taking the maca and my stomachaches went away. My energy levels increased and so did my mood. But then I started having problems sleeping and being anxious and jittery. Thinking back to when it started a month ago I remembered my issues started when I stopped the maca. Upon doing research on maca including reading this article I am now positive that my body is probably over medicated because for the first time in a long time I don’t have an adaptogen interfering with my hormones. Can you see the huge light that went on above my head?!

  • Reply
    August 1, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    This is so important. I tried a raw form and it gave me terrible cramps around my body. Then I read, people should never consume it raw. I tried it cooked capsul form. Wow…I went crazy. Happy – sad – angry. I couldn’t figure it out. I thought I was pregnant. Maca is not for everyone.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Idk about Maca as a superfood, but it is considered a natural form of DHEA for women experiencing menopause or having thyroid problems. I have been experimenting with what to use–creams, DHEA pills, or Maca. I feel that it causes me to become emotional the very day I use it, as if I’m on my period. I’m not really sure what it IS good for, but I read that people indigenous to where it grows eat the stuff like potatoes and are healthy. And ya, it tastes good in smoothies.

  • Reply
    April 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    It made me feel like I was going crazy, really. Sweaty hands, rapid heart, thinking I was going to the nut house and that I had lost my mind, I even said I’m losing my mind. I started maca root powder 1/4 teaspoon and chaste tree and ashwaghnda for 7 days and they were the worst days ever!!!!!

  • Reply
    Sara Mackenzie
    May 16, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Hi April and all! Maca dosage particularly for women is extremely important. If you take too much for you it causes stimulation which is what all the above experiences sound like. You want Balance effect not stimulation. For this you need to start out low and possibly remain there. And Maca does not work well with other herbs ie Agnus castus or ashwaganda or any other herbs or drugs that work on hormones- it is best taken alone. Most women do well to start on just 500 mg or 1 gram daily and see how you feel on that. It is likely the mix of herbs or too much Maca that caused these results.. it is a powerful root and dosage is individual. Cacao is also powerful- a little goes along way as it’s full of theobromine which can aggravate your nervous system. It’s a shame manufacturers are not providing this information to their customers.

    • Reply
      May 19, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Thank you so much for the information! I’m nervous to go near it again so we’ll see!

    • Reply
      May 19, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks for the reply. Wish I would’ve known not to mix with other hormonal herbs such as ashwaghwanda. It was a awful experience. I feel better with your comment, to help validate I wasn’t crazy. Thanks again!

  • Reply
    Lori Stead
    February 3, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I’m sitting here, researching… because I’ve gained 10 pounds in 6 weeks, and that is a LOT on my 5’0″ frame. I’ve also had to stop running and let my Plantar Fasciitis heal, so I was attributing it to not running. But 10 pounds?!? Since I had to take a running break, I started researching PF and started drinking smoothies in the morning – adding calcium aspartate, collagen, and glucosamine to help heal my body. Well… since I was drinking smoothies anyway, I also added maca. I’d bought it a couple months ago to try it out. After the first couple pounds of weight gain, I got super strict with my diet and carb intake. But the weight kept increasing. And the two periods I’ve had during this time were BRUTAL. Extra heavy and extra long! This morning I got on the scale and saw that I’m up a total of 10 pounds. I.CAN’T.EVEN.COPE. So I started looking deeper into everything I was adding to my smoothie… the rest are benign, but the maca is a freaking giant red flag. I’m reading endlessly about women having major weight gains (and other side effects). I didn’t add it to my smoothie this morning. And I’ll continue a strict diet. And I’m supposed to be able to start running again next week.

    Does anyone have any idea how long it will take for my body to return to “normal”?

    • Reply
      February 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      It didn’t take me too long once I stopped taking it!

      • Reply
        Lori Stead
        February 6, 2018 at 7:05 am

        Here’s hoping! How long would you say before you started noticing positive changes (mood, weight, PMS type symptoms, etc)? Days, weeks, longer?

  • Reply
    February 5, 2018 at 11:17 am

    My sister SWEARS by maca and has been singing it’s praises to me for months. We both have Hashimoto’s and it sounded like a miraculous energy-giving, stress-busting superfood (it certainly was for her!) and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some and reap the benefits for myself. Well… lesson learned (not for the first time) that not all “superfoods” and supplements work the same for everybody! I felt the negative side effects almost immediately. About an hour or so after downing my regular smoothie + maca, I started experiencing symptoms that I haven’t had since I quit drinking coffee: sudden extreme moodiness, depression, irritability.. basically horrible PMS symptoms. I suspected immediately it was the maca but I thought I would give it another shot to be sure… and when I experienced the same results the second and third time I tried, I threw in the towel and haven’t looked back.

    • Reply
      February 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      Crazy right??!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I just started taking it and I haven’t had any problems other than being abnormally sleepy lol. Maybe this happened becasue of your birth control + the maca?? Glad it didn’t take long to be back to normal

  • Reply
    Angela Blanco Dopazo
    March 7, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Hi, April! I am so happy I stumbled upon this because I thought I was just making ‘this’ stuff up in my head. I, too read about maca and its benefits as an adaptogen that helps balance your hormones. I took one small capsule of the powder a day for the last two days. The first day I noticed I became angry at everything. The second day I was swinging from overwhelmed to sad to angry to irritable (like PMS as many of you have mentioned). I chose to forego taking it today and I feel less angry, etc., but there’s still some lingering of it. I am so glad to hear other women have experienced this as well – it helps me feel slightly less nutso. I decided to take my tried-and-true PMS-fighting combo of vitamin E + Evening Primrose oil to see if that would help offset the symptoms. It’s been a few hours and I think it’s working. I will be retiring my maca to a drawer for now.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 2:43 am

    I was taking 3/4 – 1 teaspoon of maca powder each day for a few weeks and the final week felt like I was actually going crazy. I was depressed, anxious, didn’t want to see friends or leave the house and crying all the time. I was also taking ashwaganda. I was told that the amount of Maca I was taking would not have caused this as it was such a small amount, but it seems like too much of a coincidence to me. It took a week of not taking it before I felt normal again. To those of you who have experienced these symptoms, what amount were you taking?

    • Reply
      April 5, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      I took about 1/2 tsp and it made me crazy. It’s like PMSING 24/7 x100

  • Reply
    April 5, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Hello. I’m male and maca has worked great for me however I’ve noticed if I take too much maca I start feeling aggressive. If I work out my aggressiveness leaves me. If I take the right dose I experience a great energy boost and mood lift without aggression. I was going to recommend it to my girlfriend however I did some research. Maca and birth control do not play well together. You could actually reduce the effectiveness of your birth control AND can get weird hormonal effects.

    So just a PSA don’t take maca and hormonal birth control.

    • Reply
      April 5, 2018 at 11:17 am

      This is so good to know!!!!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      I have noticed that it is positive for me for mood and sex drive when I am conscious of reducing caffeine consumption. There is some kind of synergistic effect with coffee, for me. And I definitely need to stay away from soy (all the time, anyway).

  • Reply
    April 6, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    I started taking it the last week in January. I chose Raw Red Maca extract. The Red was more specific to my needs. I chose the extract because the powder isn’t great for sensitive stomachs and I was 220lbs and wanted immediate results (eating it takes longer to see results). I place the drops under my tongue, let sit for 30 secs then swallow so that it enters my bloodstream. I started with 1/4 tsp and gradually increased to 1/2-3/4 tsp. I feel GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have PCOS (hormonal imbalance) and it has helped me tremendously. I have more energy, increased sex drive, stable appetite, etc, etc.. I’m now 189 lbs and have done absolutely no exercise. My experience is vastly different from you ladies. I’m so sorry. I would suggest lowering the dosage and choosing a specific color as opposed to a blend. I only know of Red, Black, and Yellow. Good luck all!

  • Reply
    May 11, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    I believe I am figuring out what’s been going on with me. I’ve been taking 500mg of maca extract per day with my husband for a long time now maybe at least a year. I have been asking myself if maybe I’m developing anxiety because for so long now I feel anxious, sometimes depressed and often angry for not really good reasons. I am going to try to stop taking the maca and see what happens. Also my sex drive is gone. I mean gone. Which is def not normal for me. Hopefully I’ll start to see things improve in the coming months. Tbc…

  • Reply
    May 29, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Started taking Maca capsules just a week or so ago and felt amazing for the first few days. Fast forward to this weekend and I’m an emotional wreck. I literally stood around quivering and sobbing yesterday – totally not me, not even with PMS. I have been a miserable *fill in the blank** for the past 3-4 days, and started to get that instinct that it might be the maca this morning. Sure enough, seems like it must be since I’m not normally a depressed/raging nut bag on my own. Stopping that supplement immediately. No need to make myself crazy (literally).

    Just for informational purposes, I have no imbalances and am not taking any medications/herbal supplements, so I can only imagine what it does if your body doesn’t need/like it and you are taking other stuff.

  • Reply
    Andrea V.
    June 5, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Soo I started adding this to my smoothies and didn’t do enough research. The book I read with info on Maca powder said it gives you energy and creases your libido. Ummm nope. Not for me. I would put 1-2 teaspoons in my smoothies. And need a nap afterwards. Yawning and tired! Killer my libido in a major way! And I’ve been emotional and acting grumpy like I’ve got pms. I also take birth control pills and after reading all these comments should have done more research! Thank you for posting this blog topic!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I just started taking it a few days ago. I read that it helps with Menopause so I thought I would try it.

    The first day I was fine. No real difference in the way I felt but the second day, I could not get rid of this feeling of despair.

    I even told my boyfriend I was having a hard time getting up and going. I cryed most of the day. That is totally opposite of the way I normally am.
    So today I took it again today. I’m not crying and Feeling sad but my breasts are aching and I’m feeling this weird tingling all over. Just like I used to feel when I was on my period.

    I’ve decided it’s not worth all of the crazy mood swings. I’m gonna stop taking it and see what happens.

  • Reply
    nikki morrison
    June 11, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I feel sooooooooo tired and i am normally a very high energy person. I am also experiencing some depression 🙁

    • Reply
      July 19, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      Yep, I’m having the same experience. Extreme fatigue and short of breath. I was wondering if I need to take it at night. But I think I’m just going to give it up. I’ve also gained weight, and have very tender breasts. I guess it’s not for me.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    This stuff not only decreased my sex drive but it also gave me acne (which i never have), put at least 10lbs on me (mostly in my mid-section), gave me crazy dreams and night sweats, made me feel like I constantly have to pee, and jacked my stomach up. BEWARE!!!

  • Reply
    June 19, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I am so happy it’s not just me. I started using Maca about three months ago and at first it just made me kind of gassy and bloated. I decided to stick it out. I have hypothalamic amenorrhea and am desperate to try anything to get my hormones back to normal. So I started getting really fatigued and feeling out of it everyday about half and hour after lunch( maca) I didn’t really put it together until today reading this. I also have been experiencing swollen glands in my neck. Anyone else? My thyroid hormones are low due to my HA. Thank you for this information. I feel like all of what is out there praises this stuff!

    • Reply
      June 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      I would advise you to please stop!!! This is awful. It made me such a different depressed person. And you don’t even realize it until you start acting weird.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Millions of people in Peru eat Maca Root regularly. However unlike many people posting here they would never consumer it raw. They use it as flour and it must be cooked at high temperature.

    After reading all these “OMG I’m gonna die” posts here I wonder how in the hell Peruvians survived all these centuries eating Maca several times a week or even daily. Well, then I realized you people here are eating raw Maca, whereas in Peru they would never touch it raw, it must be geltanized Maca root which just means it’s cooked at a high temperature.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I have just started taking maca tablets and it’s made me completely emotional (after just 3 days). It is like the worst PMS symptoms ever. Definitely not for me!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    I think your reaction had to do with the IUD. Have you tried maca with birth control in your body? Also, these are all detox symptoms. Maca causes detox but if your eating and lifestyle doesn’t support detox, you hold the emotions that are supposed to be coming out, in which makes you feel crazy! Someone mentioned they feel good if they workout in conjunction with it. How active are you guys while taking maca? Working out helps to purge the emotions that are trying to come out. Cry, scream, do some kick boxing. Work with the maca to get the past trauma out.

    • Reply
      July 31, 2018 at 10:57 am

      I hadn’t considered that it could have been my IUD! Interesting!!

  • Reply
    Karla Van Wagner
    August 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    I had been taking Maca for about 2 months almost every day and probably too much. My husband made a great coconut cream/maca desert that we would have 4 or 5 times a week. Well last week must have been the tipping point for me. After one of our deserts I was hit with really bad diarrhea that lasted 2 days. I did some research and found out all of Maca’s side effects and stopped taking it. Finally after about 5 days of quitting, I feel more energized and my emotions are balanced. I really had no idea that it was THAT powerfull. It looked so innocent hanging in it’s bag at Trader Joe’s next to the Cocoa.

  • Reply
    Karla Van Wagner
    August 6, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    I forgot to add that 2 months in a row my period was over 7 days early! So not a fun surprise when you are camping!

  • Reply
    August 30, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Hi. Im so glad i found this article. I know this is mainly about macas effects on women, but i am a 40 year old male and i get all the same adverse side effects as being described here. Ive been taking it for its supposed libido and vitality enhancement and all it seems to do is exacerbate my anxiety and depression ten fold and gives me extreme irritability and sadness and feeling of despair to the point i dont wanna leave the house or talk to anybody. And also i have had zero libido and erectile dysfunction on this too when its claimed to do the opposite. And i only take half the recommended dosage (500-750mg) of the gelatinized powder extract. I obviously didnt research maca enough first but all i could find is nothing but positive reviews and praises. I guess it works well for some people but if you are prone to anxiety and/or depression i would steer clear of this stuff. But what im wondering now though is 1) are women more prone to these side effects then men? Can any other guys chime in thatve had similar experience? And 2) how long will it take for my emorions and hormones to return to baseline? Ive only been taking it for a month

  • Reply
    September 23, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Thank you for this post.

    Friday – bought Maca capsules from Go Vita and took one 500g Maca capsule that afternoon. Libido up that night.

    Saturday – took my regular pills (Microgynon pill, iron tablet, Dong Quai capsule) PLUS Maca capsule. Experienced itchiness on arms, mood swing from really loving to crying at a miscellaneous comment. Immediately took 2 Dong Quai capsules which helped balance the hormone for the rest of the day. Libido up that night.

    Sunday – Libido up in the morning. Took my regular pills (Microgynon pill, iron tablet, Dong Quai capsule) PLUS Maca capsule. Experienced immediate itchiness on arms. Took Zyrtec antihistamine tablet which took the edge off itchiness. Itchiness returned by afternoon on arms. Took second Zyrtec which calmed itchiness. No extreme mood swings, but felt slight aggressiveness but not sufficient to create an outburst. Immediately read blogs about side effects of Maca confirming libido increase, itchiness, mood swing, slight period-like cramping. Pill + Maca are definitely not a good combo. Felt tired by the afternoon and fell asleep for 2 hours!

    Now wondering if I should take Maca at night time only, or cut the pill in half, or stop altogether. Hubby is loving the libido up effect but happy for me to stop if side effects get too much for me. It’s only day 3.

  • Reply
    September 23, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Monday (today) – Today is day 4. Itchiness on arm persist despite not taking Maca capsule this morning. Took Zyrtec and it is now 2:51pm and itchiness gone. Have decided to throw away Maca bottle as the negative side effects are just not worth it. Thanks again for sharing! 🙂

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