Maca Powder Side Effects


Always do your research before trying something new. Even if it is a natural material or vitamin. Maybe, especially if. I didn’t read about what side effects eating maca powder raw could have, and I really should have.

I started taking maca powder raw in my coffee or smoothie to help regulate my periods and clear up my skin. It worked like a charm. I did this after reading one blog post. A month and a half later I could barely eat without getting stomach cramps or sweating and I was very gassy. I thought maybe drinking too much coffee was causing an ulcer or something…. Then it became so bad one afternoon that I was laying on the couch with severe stomach cramps, nauseous and sweating.maca-powder-and-root

I did look it up and a Google research found out this:

I started taking raw maca root powder a few weeks ago. It was effective at increasing energy levels and balancing my hormones out. It seemed like a good supplement without side effects. I had one of my friends try some one day and he proceeded to get sick and throw up for 5 hours. It was very strange; almost like an allergic reaction. I felt fine, and did not have any issues, so I thought it was just him.

Then about a week ago my stomach started hurting. It was just low level stomach upset at first. Then a few days later it hit me. I went from low level stomach upset to curled up in a ball on the floor with stomach spasms. I passed out from the pain, and woke up 4 hours later. The major pain had subsided, but my stomach was still very upset. I figured I have food poisoning and gave it a few days. It has now been a week and a half, and the stomach pain has not subsided.

I think I have narrowed it down to SBIO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). All of my symptoms fit, and I am pretty sure it was caused by the raw maca powder. Either the enzymes left in the root caused it, or there was bacteria in the powder. After doing some more research, raw maca powder can cause digestive issues if the starches are not gelatinized. Basically the powder needs to be cooked at around 300*F to break down the enzymes. I have been treating it with various methods, but it does not seem to be improving. Eating any dairy, fiber, sugars, etc makes the pain come back. If I fast, the pain stays at bay. If I eat spicy food, then surprisingly the pain only comes back a little. I have been trying digestive enzymes, probiotics, and activated charcoal to varying degrees of success. I think I am going to have to go on neomycin to beat it. I hate going on antibiotics!

So be careful if you are using raw maca. I would suggest baking it at 300*F for at least 30 min before ingesting it. You can also buy gelatinized maca for a little more. There’s also a chance that there was bacteria on the maca when I got it. Who knows what goes on in the packing center in Peru. Cooking it should kill the bacteria as well. Stupid...” (Source: http://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/1apxrj/raw_maca_root_warning/)

And:

Dear Jenny, What you describe is a very common problem for people using raw maca.  Most of the maca powder and capsules sold in the U.S. are made from raw maca, yet the native people of Peru wouldn’t dream of eating raw maca! That is why Whole World Botanicals’ Royal Maca has always been cooked in a way called gelatinization.  (No gelatin is added; this is a cooked and extruded form of maca root).  Andeans in the maca growing region of Peru eat maca root either boiled for hours with sugar and drunk as maca juice, or boiled or roasted and eaten as a part of the meal along with quinoa, potatoes, and other Andean foods.  Children in the maca growing region of the Peruvian Andes are served boiled maca roots (very small) to which sugar and oatmeal has been added 3 times a week to increase their stamina, growth, and brain power.—–“Evidently, raw maca contains enzymes which inhibit the digestion and assimilation of food—proving that those native Peruvians knew what they were doing.  So it is not surprising that so many people suffer severe digestive problems from taking maca in its raw form.  Of course, it’s a lot cheaper to produce—that’s why companies sell it raw.  But it also has 20% more water weight than cooked maca – and requires a higher dosage for human consumption.  This makes it expensive and not cost-effective.  Another problem with raw maca is that it is a breeding ground for bacterial and fungal (yeast and mold) growth, due to its high moisture content.  This may be an additional significant factor in causing serious stomach and intestinal distress.” (Source :http://www.wholeworldbotanicals.com/blog/1-royal-maca/q-does-maca-root-have-the-side-effect-of-causing-severe-stomach-cramping/)

So do your research people! You may think it’s natural which is good and it’s from Peru which is exotic and you are all happy with that until you feel like your stomach is being turned inside out and being scraped by jagged fingernails. Then you might change your mind. Natural doesn’t always equal good for you. And just because it comes in raw form in your health store doesn’t mean they did their proper research on it either.

Just wanted to warn you all since I said earlier it was amazing. I have changed my mind.

xTi

You may also want to check out:

The Thing I Did to Help My Gut.

Gut Health Help: Article Roundup.

Exploring Gut Health

Gut Health Update

 

55 Comments

  • Louise dawson 2014-08-16 at 13:46

    Hi, how long did your stomach cramps last? Did you need antibiotics? Im having exactly the same problems for the last 2-3 weeks after taking raw maca.

    Reply
    • caffeinefueledfool 2014-08-17 at 00:04

      About a month. I recommend eating a lot of yogurt, avoiding caffeine and sugar for a couple of weeks and taking probiotic vitamins. Good luck!! Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
      • kate dawson 2014-08-17 at 14:11

        Thanks! I’ll try that. I’ve got antibiotics too so hoping they also help. I’ve noticed carbs and sugar set it off so I’m avoiding them! If only I’d known the dangers of taking raw maca – it shouldn’t be allowed to be sold in a raw form.

        Reply
        • caffeinefueledfool 2014-08-18 at 05:42

          Natural medicine and products need to be labeled more completely and more regulated.

          Reply
        • Todd 2017-07-19 at 09:24

          I agree Kate… Im in the same boat… been in severe pain for two days. If I eat something the pain comes back to almost unbearable levels. Seems as if I eat anything it comes back. Raw maca shouldnt even be allowed to be sold. I bought it in capsules and thought it was in capsules that it would be fine.

          Reply
          • Tianna Wynne 2017-07-20 at 10:15

            I’ve heard that activated charcoal can help flush it out. Or water with apple cider vinegar….although I just waited my symptoms out! I would recommend doing the Gut Makeover that I just did. I am putting a post up today about it, so be sure to check back and see if that would help.

    • Tianna Wynne 2017-07-20 at 11:17

      Also- I didn’t need antibiotics…but if your symptoms last longer than three weeks, I would.

      Reply
      • Todd 2017-07-21 at 10:22

        Hi Tianna

        Would you know how much apple cider vinegar to mix with water to flush it out. And do you have a link for that gut makeover post. Very interested. Thanks again 🙂

        Reply
  • Carla 2015-08-22 at 11:49

    Thank you for this! I took Maca (raw) for a few weeks, and then it must have built up to an intolerable level in my system, because WOW, these stomach cramps hurt! I stopped taking the Maca two weeks ago today, and still having them. You are the first person who stated how long their cramps lasted. I sure hope this goes away soon. Miserable stuff.

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2017-07-20 at 11:18

      I hope you feel better!! Did they go away?? Isn’t it like being turned inside out and stabbed with jagged fingernails??

      Reply
  • Ashley 2016-07-24 at 11:29

    I have been taking gelatinized (so the bottle says) capsules for about a month now myself and for the past week I’ve had stomache pain on and off consistently … My initial thought was its an ulcer but I’m 27 and healthy. Never had stomache issues my whole life. But I’m wondering if this may be the cause? Could that be it even though they are gelatinized maca capsules? Hmm …..

    Reply
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  • Andrea Mungo 2016-12-17 at 14:38

    Just had similar reaction after drinking maca powder in a smoothie. Threw up multiple times, major diarrhea, somach cramps, sweats. Thanks for validating that my symptoms were from the maca powder.

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2017-01-12 at 10:04

      Oh man! Raw maca powder should just have warnings on it…. I hope you’re okay now!

      Reply
      • Todd 2017-07-19 at 09:29

        Just wanted to say Thanks for writing this. Its the only article I could find about eating raw maca and having severe cramps. I’ll never take it again. Its not worth it. The pain was to much. Once again Thanks Tianna for writing this. Hoping my symptoms will pass soon, cause its just brutal.

        Reply
        • Tianna Wynne 2017-07-20 at 10:14

          Raw Maca seems so dangerous! I am sure it is okay cooked or in smoothies from smoothie bars but I will never take it again either. I am so glad this post helped you. 🙂 I hope your symptoms fade very soon.

          Reply
    • Linda in BC 2017-04-08 at 20:05

      I had the exact same experience, first time I’ve ever had Maca and it will be my last. Thanks for the confirmation.

      Reply
      • Tianna Wynne 2017-04-19 at 09:36

        I feel the same. Never again! Did you stop before symptoms became too severe?

        Reply
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    • Rasa Estee 2017-03-08 at 20:28

      I’ve been experiencing super distractingly itchy and hot rashes on my neck and my entire scalp for weeks now since I used organic Maca powder in my Booster drinks. My digestion is off balanced and I’m extra anxious and fatigued. I’ve been in a very specific diet to deal with other health issues and the hives/rash hasn’t gone away. Anyone has tips for remedy? Thank youuuu 🙏🏽

      Reply
      • Tianna Wynne 2017-03-10 at 11:11

        Really??? That isn’t a symptom I have read about in relation to this. I did read a lot of varying reactions to it and many of them went to the doctor and were able to get something to get rid of whatever they were suffering from. Have you gone to your doctor? As well, I would recommend anything that boosts the immune system. I am not a doctor, but from personal experience, I have found that fermented foods, green tea and probiotics help immensely. And eat lots of leafy greens. That’s helped me! Good luck. Keep me updated.

        Reply
  • Alex May 2017-05-09 at 20:36

    I am so glad I discovered your page! I’m going on week 2 of stomach cramps. It took until reading your experience tof piece together that it was the maca root powder I was taking that caused this. I am now in aloe Vera juice and charcoal pills as well as probiotics. Good to know that fermented foods help. I was taking Gut Shots (fermented) while taking maca and I had no problem. But once I stopped the Gut Shots, my stomach cramps set in. I wonder if they were helping keep it at bay since I was mixing the 2.

    I can’t wait till this is all out of my system. Never again!! The bag I was using was raw and also never mentioned the effects. So wrong! But thank you!

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2017-05-12 at 10:23

      I am so glad this post helped! SO glad. You’re very welcome. My hope was that it would help people before the symptoms went too far.
      Also, I 100% agree, it is SO WRONG that there are no warnings of possible side effects.
      Where did you find the gut shots? They sound interesting. I am now having issues with gut problems- cramping and bloating and aversion to some foods- so I am doing an elimination diet followed by a gut healing one. I’ll keep you updated as it sounds like it would help you recover from the raw maca….that evil brew.

      Reply
      • Diana 2017-11-11 at 22:38

        I’m on the verge of tears right now, my husband had taken the Maca years ago and was ok so I grabbed the Raw on thinking it would be better since it was Raw, and he’s in tears in pain. At what point to I take him to the hospital? He’s never sick, yet this is effecting him just like all those above! It’s really bad! What should I do for him to stop the pain? Do I hush him to the hospital to get antibiotics and do doctors even know what to do? HELP, HELP, my email is dayofpromise @yahoo.com He’s 61 yrs old. Like I said almost never ill, and to see him in so much pain if horrible! Email: dayofpromise@yahoo.com WHAT DO I GIVE HIM FOR THE PAIN???

        Reply
        • Tianna Wynne 2017-11-28 at 13:38

          I’m sorry I missed this comment…I see there is a second one now and let me read that first.

          Reply
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  • Palome 2017-10-12 at 06:58

    I took 2 doses (1 tsp each) of raw maca powder over 2 days. My tongue swelled, I had restricted breathing, dizzy, my throat & mucous membranes were all burning for 3-4 days afterwards. It was terrible. So painful. Please anyone trying this for the first time go slowly with a small dose. I ended up at my doctors office being treated for an anaphylactic reaction. Be careful.

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2017-10-18 at 09:21

      Omigosh! I am so sorry to hear about this. Are you okay now? I agree with your advice- go slow everyone!

      Reply
  • Diana 2017-11-12 at 03:13

    We just got home from the hospital. They gave him Morphine etc. Now we’re home and he has 4 drugs to take one is Tramado it contains an OPIOID! His pain was out the roof! I’m unsure what else they gave him there as I’m so sleepy! Should I gave him Charcoal? They diagonal him with Food Poisoning. We usually take 6 only at the beginning for that condition and it works wonders. You mentioned Apple Cider Vinegar. How much did you take? I don’t want to give him these 4 drugs! They all have horrible possible side effects. We will NEVER buy this again! Again, he took a tablespoonful as directed on the package! He’s sleeping soundly now, but HELP! What would you do if it were you?

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2017-11-28 at 13:51

      Diana- I am going to email you! But for anyone coming across this comment on the blog and needing similar help…..First, I am not a doctor. But here is what worked for me and what I believe would work..Charcoal couldn’t hurt. It helps flush out the system and that could be a good thing. I take a tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in my water every morning. I think your husband would benefit from 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar 3 times a day, before every meal. I would buy the best fruit and veg and the cleanest grass-fed meat you can find. I would assume that any extra pesticides, antibiotics or hormones would tip the scales out of his favour as his stomach and gut must be a mess. Look up articles by Jeannette Hyde and Terry Wahls. Make or buy high-quality bone broth! Have him drink at least a glass a day- when I eat gluten and feel poisoned, it helps me a lot!

      Look up “The Gut Makeover” post I did here….he may benefit from Dr Hyde’s 4 week program to reset his gut and stomach.
      These articles may help as well, as the food poisoning may have damaged his gut lining:
      1. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-29720/10-signs-your-gut-needs-a-makeover-a-nutritional-therapist-explains.html
      2. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25961/what-i-eat-in-a-day-functional-medicine-doctor-terry-wahls-tells-all.html
      Those are a good jumping off point, maybe.

      But start with bone broth, charcoal, apple cider vinegar and great quality meat, veg and fruit. Let me know if this helps or if you have any questions. I think, if you don’t want to go the traditional medicine route, go to a nutritionist and naturopath for pro help. My hopes for a speedy recovery are with your husband!

      Reply
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  • Scarlet 2018-01-31 at 09:19

    Hi just found your post!
    I started taking maca powder a few weeks ago with smoothies and initially things were going good. Then I whisked some into juice and was drinking it after a workout. Then it hit. Stomach cramps and spasms and whatever food I ate called pain.
    Really upset over it all.
    Stopped the Maca powder about 4 days ago now but the pain is still there, comes and goes. If I eat any solid food it cramps and aches. The first couple of nights were the worst.
    It aches and pains before I pass a bowel moment, I feel like I’ve got IBS or something.

    I’ve started taking symprove which is a probiotic, Apple cider vinegar water and I drink Huel shakes to get my energy. If I’m lucky I can eat a banana or two.

    Feel like crying.
    How long will this last?

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-01-31 at 10:39

      Omigosh Scarlet- I’m SO SORRY this has happened to you. My cramps were intense for a couple of weeks, if I remember correctly, but lasted about a month. I would definitely add bone broth to the mix and make homemade shakes with a lot of veggies and fruit to trick your body into getting gut-healthy nutrients. If it lasts more than a week for you, I would go to the doctor. Let me know how it goes!! Keep me updated.

      Reply
  • Sharon Lim 2018-03-07 at 13:50

    Hi Tianna, I just came across your page here after doing some immense research regarding raw maca powder and its reaction on my gastrointestinal tract here. I feel like I am DYING. The cramps/pain, sweating, heart racing and trembles are so painful and I cannot figure out what to do (it’s been one-one half weeks). I feel awful as I should have done more research before taking maca….but it was also in granola form which I didnt think would affect me this much. Anyway, THANK YOU for this information and thread of comments to help me get back on track. I’m dealing with autoimmune Hashimotos on the side so i was feeling absolutely lost. <3

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-03-08 at 10:38

      Hi Sharon! I’m so sorry you are going through this!! I know how awful it can be. Read the thread and take any suggestions that stand out to you. I’ve heard that Hashimotos effects are amplified when you eat sugar, gluten and green tea- green tea!- so avoid those if you haven’t read that already. I have a few friends who have Hashimotos and they always ask me to pass that on. 🙂 I would say another half a week and you should be okay- I think it took me two or three weeks to feel okay again. Baby your stomach as if you have just had the flu! That really helped me. I drank ginger tea, ate a lot of soup and avoided anything heavy or fried. Let me know when you’re feeling yourself again. Thinking of you.

      Reply
  • Sally 2018-03-23 at 03:12

    Tianna, I was wondering if you’ve found any other supplements that help regulate your period. I loved how maca helped mine and the clear skin, but I don’t think I can bear the stomach issues any more. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-03-24 at 18:31

      Hey Sally! Thank you for reading!

      As for your question…

      This is gonna sound lame but I have found that the only thing that helped was cutting out gluten, sugar and processed food as much as possible. I did an elimination diet and when I slowly added food back in, I kept a diary and logged how my skin was and how my periods were. I found that I have an extreme intolerance to gluten and that added sugar, caffeine and overeating processed food made my skin break out into painful cystic acne (think, pizza face) and made my periods really rough.

      I’m sorry that I don’t have a supplement answer- it would be so much easier!! I have heard -from doing personal polls of friends- that cleaning up your diet, exercise and sleep are the best bets. A lot of my friends have started to take collagen powder and say that helps as well. Oh- and making sure you take your Calcium-Magnesium vitamins every month.

      My periods have been rough lately and I have lost a whole day to cramps the last few months and I think it’s because I let my diet slide. Next month I am going to do a month of clean and real-food eating. You can follow along here if you want! It will be a weekly update every Saturday. We can do it together!!

      Whatever you decide, I wish you good luck. Being a woman is hard enough without dealing with acne and cramps!

      Reply
  • Maya 2018-03-24 at 12:52

    Wow so glad to have found this. Two weeks of raw maca powder and I’m almost a week into pretty bad stomach cramps any time I eat 🙁
    Though I’d done my research before purchasing but clearly not! The sites I looked at that sell/promote it made vague notes about “small percentage of people may experience discomfort”, but that’s all. In hindsight, can’t believe I was so stupid to eat a raw root powder. There should be warnings on the packaging!
    Today’s my first day without taking it. I really hope these cramps don’t last too long – I feel so drained!
    Thank you for confirming what I’d started to think days ago but it hadn’t really clicked.

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-03-24 at 18:33

      Ack- so glad you stopped in time! I have read that the maca powder big chains put in smoothies ( I think Jugo Juice is doing it now?) is cooked maca powder….but even then I avoid it! I don’t trust it since it wrecked my stomach. I wish you a speedy recovery. Keep us updated!! Since you only took two weeks of raw maca, I would think you should be fine in a few days. Good luck!! We are thinking of you.

      Reply
      • Maya 2018-03-25 at 08:19

        Thanks! I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone, but at the same time it’s so comforting to know that others have been through this. Weirdly enough, I’m noticing that I can get through breakfast with no hassle (muesli, hemp milk, and pro-bio yoghurt) but lunchtime the cramps are almost immediate and last through until bedtime. Think I’m eating stuff that’s just too heavy, so I might just having muesli tomorrow for lunch too, and see if it makes any difference! Or try soup like you mentioned above.
        I guess at least I’m getting a bit of a much needed detox this way – less heavy food and lots of tea!

        Reply
        • Tianna Wynne 2018-03-27 at 18:20

          It is kind of validating to know you’re not the only one, isn’t it!! And yes- it is kind of a forced detox….which both sucks and is good. Haha. I found the same thing with food- I stuck to tea, water, soups and veggies. I only had meat twice a week and cut out carbs for a couple weeks. Hope you feel better soon.

          Reply
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  • Renae 2018-05-06 at 22:49

    Wow…. SO glad you wrote this post. I bought Maca and had one dose.. just a teaspoon, in my smoothie. I was gassy and a bit crampy. Then the next day I had another dose, same amount, and drank it while I was at work. Within 40 minutes I had that SEVERE pain!! SO BAD!! I’m glad I’m a nurse and was working in the hospital. It got so bad I actually passed out. It was frightening the amount of pain I was in. I am so glad that it happened on my second try of it, and that I decide to google and found your post. I will NEVER take Maca again. And I even started at a small dose! So insane that there isn’t more on the packaging of the possible side effects for some people!!! I’ve had 2 kids, and can really say the amount of pain it caused was almost worse than child birth. I never fainted in childbirth. I fainted with the severity of this pain. Glad I do not have lingering effects other than gas now. Drinking a lot of gut shots and kombucha and yogurt to get my gut back to its regular self. Thanks for sharing your experience!!!

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-05-07 at 09:01

      You’re so welcome! I am glad this post helped. Kombucha sounds like a yummy recovery option!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Claire 2018-05-17 at 11:18

    Thank you so much for posting this. I could not figure out what has been causing this bizarre intermittent illness. I am 25, healthy, but avoid gluten, dairy, soy and meat to maintain my gut health. Maca is no joke. Makes me vomit until there is nothing left in side of me. About 1.5-2 hours after taking it. The pain subsides in a few hours but bodily weakness and no appetite stays for around 36 hours.

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-05-17 at 11:22

      Oh I am glad this helped! I think the problem is that it’s not a regulated product so you never know what you’re getting. Maybe maca is cross-contaminated as well? Who knows! I went through the same thing and I feel your pain. Feel better!!

      Reply
  • Rochelle 2018-06-05 at 10:24

    Hello Tianna, I’m glad I found this post. I used maca once last year and 3 hours later I spent hours puking up my guts. I thought I was bad almond milk so I tried it again about 3 weeks later. Again with the excessive vomiting. I was on my way to work that day and had to pull over on the highway. I threw the stuff out and never touched it again. Last Friday hubby and I went to a vegan restaurant and he talked me into the vegan lime cheesecake, It was awesome! But 3 hours later, I was puking my guts up again so I called and found out they put maca in the cheesecake! By reading these posts I wonder if it’s a blessing I have this reaction. It sounds better than what everyone here is going through!

    Reply
    • Tianna Wynne 2018-06-05 at 10:48

      Oh my gosh! Was maca listed in the ingredients at all? I am beginning to wonder if I should ask for an ingredient list for everything I eat. Thanks for the heads up!

      Reply

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