Material usesThere are no material uses listed for Lepidium meyenii.
Maca, as with all crucifers, contains glucosinolates and isothiocyanates which have been shown to exhibit anticarcinogenicity by blocking formation of endogenous or exogenous carcinogens and so preventing initiation of carcinogenesis. Naturally occurring and synthetic isothiocyanates are among the most effective chemopreventive agents known. A wide variety of isothiocyanates prevent cancer of various tissues including the rat lung, mammary gland, oesophagus, liver, small intestine, colon, and bladder. Non-published data suggests Maca has this same effect. Surprisingly, there is no apparent traditional use of Maca in the treatment of cancer. In traditional Peruvian herbal medicine, Maca is used as an immunostimulant and in the treatment of anaemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility and other reproductive and sexual disorders as well as to enhance memory. A chemical analysis conducted in 1981 showed the presence of biologically active aromatic isothiocyanates, especially p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which have reputed aphrodisiac properties. Initial analysis of Maca indicate that the effects on fertility are a result of the glucosinolates. Alkaloids are also present, but have not yet been quantified.(263).There are reports that this plant can cure many problems of infertility.
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The plant is said to deplete the soil in which it is grown. In S. America it is grown on a 10 year rotation, leaving the fields fallow for the next nine years to recover before their next crop. It is most likely that the problem lies with the nutrient-poor and fragile soils that the plant is usually grown in, rather than the greed of the plant. Plants grow in areas where frosts are common throughout the growing season and they are said to tolerate temperatures down to at least -10°, perhaps to -20°c if given a good mulch. The main problem with growing them in the British climate is that they might need the rarefied heights of the Andes with thinner air and more intense solar radiation. It is quite likely that they will be unhappy in the moist and relatively sunless climate of this country[K]. Cultivated as a vegetable in the Andes of S. America, this species is probably grown at higher elevations than any other cultivated food crop. There are some named forms. The roots are usually harvested 6 - 7 months after sowing the seed, though they can take 9 months to mature. Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare are possible.Plants are self-fertile. They are also quite possibly allelopathic (inhibiting the growth of nearby plants).
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Lepidium meyenii.
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