Spotlight On The Maca Experts!
Updated: Jun 12
We love maca and use it in our Lovers Potion cos its renowned as the super duper love potion. We also use it in our brand new Magick Cocoa because, well it has some other pretty blissful, stress busting actions as well. We decided to do a wee spotlight on our maca suppliers - The Maca Experts as they are friends and fellow New Zealanders :)
The small region of Peru known as Junin, nestled high up in the Andean mountains is claimed to have the happiest and healthiest people on earth. One thing all people from the region have in common is that they consume a sacred medicinal root known locally as la maca - “the food of the brain”. Recent investigations into maca have demonstrated that there may be some truth behind the beliefs of the people who have consumed it for centuries due to the discovery of how it works in our brain and body.
Peruvian Maca – what is it?
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable, similar to a radish that is native to the central Peruvian Andes and grows between 3500-4500m above sea level. The root grows for 9 months and is traditionally harvested, sun-dried for 3 months then boiled into teas, porridges, broths, soups or stews and consumed daily. Although being closely related to a radish is never consumed fresh as the locals believe “the medicine” is created during the drying and cooking processes. This goes against beliefs that raw is always best, often promoted in our Western culture.[i] However, science seems to be on the side of the Inca evidence showing that traditional preparation drastically increases the levels of novel bioactive molecules found in maca called macamides that are thought to be responsible for most of the adaptogenic properties.[ii] The locals insist it is important to never eat raw maca as doing so may actually make your health worse.[iii] So if using maca be sure to use activated maca, heat treated maca or maca in a cooked form.
How Maca works
Maca works as an adaptogen to enhance our natural production and function of human cannabinoids like anandamide (often called our bliss molecule). More specifically the macamides in maca act by inhibiting the enzyme that usually rapidly breaks down anandamide called FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase).[i] By doing this the brain and body sees an increase in levels of anandamide and better response to external stressors.
The chemical structure of a macamide vs our own human endocannabinoid - anandamide
Anandamide is an adaptogenic molecule that harmonises the way the nervous system responds to stress. Accumulation of macamides in the brain increases natural levels of anandamide, which builds long-term strength and resilience to stress and brings the body back to a stable balance.[ii] Maca has a unique mode of action, it is not a stimulant, it can be used for long-term sustainable treatment and it is well tolerated by everyone. As a regulator of natural cannabinoid function, the health benefits of maca are vast.
We source our maca from The Maca Experts - a small Wellington based family business run by Dr Corin Storkey and his partner Sally Huapaya (Peru). They spend 3-4 months per year working directly with their farmers and produce farm to table artisanal maca following the ancient traditions of cultivation. They believe in superfood social responsibility and donate $2 per kg sold to a fund to help the children of their farming community. They run retreats to Peru to connect with both maca and cacao. Their maca research program in collaboration with the University of Victoria in Wellington works to bring credible scientific evidence to support the ancient Incan traditions surrounding maca and helps create premium and therapeutic products for New Zealand consumers.
We also source our cacao from our friends Sally and Corin who provide us with the very best cacao we have ever seen. This is what they had to say about the cacao - Our cacao is Peruvian shade grown ‘rescue cacao’, grown under a natural jungle canopy and supporting local farmers wanting to escape the illegal drug trade. Many farmers of the region we source in San Martin were forced into growing coca tress to support the illegal cocaine trade due to farmer exploitation and extreme poverty. We are rescuing them and their ancient traditions by empowering then to return to cacao growing and selling their product direct from farm to table allowing them to earn a living wage. Our cacao grows in the Central Amazon using a native agroforestry system that supports the flora and fauna that surrounds it. The cacao lives under the shadow of many native fruits, with an organic canopy protecting crops like banana and papaya, promoting biodiversity, improving soil fertility and sequestering 30% more carbon than non-shade grown farmed cacao. It is an environmentally sustainable way to farm that protects the sacred jungle environment. It is criollo cacao, the rarest and most scarce form accounting for only 1% of the worlds production. The tree that gives this fruit is fragile, sensitive and of low yield, but it provides a premium, exceptional, aromatic flavour and extensive nutritional profile. Being the Rolls Royce of cacoa you can truly taste and feel the different when you consume it. All our cacao is also analysed and tested for a range of heavy metal contaminants, in particular cadmium which is a big problem in the Central and South American growing regions. Finally it is produced with love, beautiful intention respecting the frequency of mother nature and blessed through ceremony during harvest time.
So there you have it. We are happy to be able to support another small NZ business that is trying to make a difference and in doing so are providing you with the best maca and cacao available.
[i] Muhammad, I., et al., Constituents of Lepidium meyenii 'maca'. Phytochemistry, 2002. 59(1): p. 105-10. [i] Ai, Z., et al., Antidepressant-like behavioral, anatomical, and biochemical effects of petroleum ether extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) in mice exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress. Journal of medicinal food, 2014. 17(5): p. 535-542. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24730393 (c) Zhao, J., et al., New alkamides from maca (Lepidium meyenii). J Agric Food Chem, 2005. 53(3): p. 690-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15686421. [ii] Ai, Z., et al., Antidepressant-like behavioral, anatomical, and biochemical effects of petroleum ether extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) in mice exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress. Journal of medicinal food, 2014. 17(5): p. 535-542. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24730393. [i] Fabbri et al. Int Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science 3 (2016) 2–11. [ii] Esparaza et al. Phytochemistry. Aug;116;(2015) 138-148. [iii] (a) Mavungu et al. Food Additives and Contaminants 26 (06); (2009) 885-895. (b) Liew et al. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 8;(2018) 60. (c) WHO/NHM/FOS/RAM/18.1 (2018) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).