Adventures with Maca Powder

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My husband is kinda miserable this week, and it’s probably my fault because I may have poisoned him. But I’ll start at the beginning…

Over the years, Michael and I have tried and ditched a number of multivitamins, powders, and supplements, all in the pursuit of continued good health or exercise recovery. None of them were “bad,” but none of them were miraculous either. And after watching this episode on Frontline, we decided to try and just eat healthy to get the nutrients we need sans any supplementation. (No judgment at all for you or anyone who takes stuff, that’s just what we personally decided.) Nevertheless, we’re still open to trying things if it’s “natural” and the benefits seem worth the cost and effort.

Enter maca powder.

Made from a root vegetable grown at high altitudes in the Andes Mountains (sounds SO magical, right?), maca is supposed to help with balancing out your hormones, mental focus, energy levels, fertility, and muscle building, to name a few. I heard about it from a family member who had been having a positive experience with it so I looked into it for Michael. We were hoping it might help him with his energy levels during the day since he’s frequently pretty tired even with regular 8-9+ hours of sleep each night, a recent physical and blood work that came back normal, and a lifestyle that includes a good diet and regular exercise.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I looked into it a little (but obviously not as thoroughly as I should’ve), concluded that it was worth a shot, and bought some on Amazon. There are two forms of maca powder that you can buy, raw or gelatinized/pre-cooked, and I got the raw kind for Michael. He took it for a few weeks and up until last week saw no adverse effects. We’re unsure if it made much of a difference in his energy levels (we’re always skeptical knowing the placebo-effect is very real, plus it had only been a few weeks) but toward the end of last week he started getting very painful stomach cramps. He immediately stopped taking it and I started looking into it more closely, something I should have done from the beginning! To summarize my findings and spare you the details, I’ll just say that maca does seem to be a sort of superfood with plenty of anecdotal evidence that it has many beneficial effects for a lot of people, but that consuming it raw (instead of cooked/gelatinized) has lead to many similar cases of severe stomach cramps. Some people said their cramps lasted a full month before they subsided!

We are hoping and praying that that won’t be the case for Michael. He went to see the doctor and for now we’re just going to hold in a wait-and-see pattern. In an effort to clear out his system ASAP, he’s stopped eating any refined sugars, limited processed foods as much as possible, and has mainly been eating homemade vegetable beef soup, eggs, plain yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut – those last three in the hopes of adding some probiotics to the mix. We’ll just have to wait and see if all that will help or even if the maca is the cause of his stomach cramps, although that’s the most likely culprit.

Does this mean that we will never try any supplements or health fads again? Probably not. We recognize that God has made some pretty incredible stuff in the natural world that can benefit human health, and we’re open to finding out about those things and taking advantage of them, even if they tend to get abused and over-marketed for greedy profit.

And if nothing else, times like these are good reminders that our bodies are marred by the effects of sin and the fall. They are decaying and not functioning as optimally as they should, and no supplement or pill, natural or synthetic, will ever fix that.

And finally, in times like these it’s important to remember the Gospel…especially for Michael…and especially the forgiveness part…so he can, uh, forgive his wife for poisoning him.

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