Peruvian 'Power Plant'

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Maca boosts libido, stamina, energy, and endurance

At 15,000 feet in Peru's Junin Plateau, I'm looking at some of the world's worst farmland Yet despite the intense sunlight, the violent winds, and the bone-chilling cold, maca flourishes here.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a tuberous root with a tangy taste and a butterscotch aroma, is a staple used by Peruvian highlanders for centuries in baked goods, porridges, puddings, and jams.

Boiled in water, it's sweeter than cocoa. The plant has a folkloric reputation for boosting fertility in cattle and humans.

In the US, maca has become known as a libido booster. But I like it for its effects on energy and endurance.

In Peru, a seasoned mountaineer told me, "Maca gets me up these mountains and back down alive. It's like having a power generator inside me." Maca is commonly used for energy in the Peruvian highlands, I've seen people carry the sweet, spicy dried roots in their pockets to chew on during the day.

Maca contains about 12% protein and 78% carbohydrate and is a good source of iron and calcium. The root is also especially rich in plant sterols, some of which may boost human performance. Additionally, maca contains compounds known as macamides and macaenes, which are not known to be found in any other plant on earth. These, some scientists believe, are the real key to maca's effects on energy and endurance.
Where to buy Maca

Buy maca capsules from Nutramedix, Sundown, and GNC. For a link to Nutramedix, log on to www.prevention.com/links.

PHOTO (COLOR): Try this herb if you want to feel frisky

PHOTO (COLOR)

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By Chris Kilham

Herb hunter Chris Kilham teaches ethnobotany in the medicinal plant program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The author of 12 books, his newest is Psyche Delicacies (Rodale Inc., 2001).

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