Natural Endocrine Function Support
What is the Endocrine System?
The endocrine (ductless) glands drop their hormones directly into the blood stream. Hormones are powerful chemicals that directly influence the functioning of body systems, such as the reproductive system, the immune system, the circulatory system, the neurological system, the muscular-skeletal system as well as the digestive and respiratory systems. The endocrine glands include the hypothalamus, the pituitary, the adrenal glands, the thyroid, pancreas, ovaries and testes.
When a gland (or organ such as the liver) produce a hormone which impacts or determines the amount of hormones or number of receptors for these hormones made by the endocrine glands they are called precursor hormones. The hypothalamus produces precursor hormones exclusively which impact the functioning of the pituitary. The pituitary gland in response to the precursor hormones received from the hypothalamus produces other precursor hormones which directly impact the functioning of the other endocrine glands.
This whole precursor hormone system can be conceptualized as a “domino” or a “cascade” effect. These glands function both by a “cascade effect” and through feedback loops. Feedback loops refer to the fact that the production of each hormone influences the production of other hormones. If a woman in menopause is estrogen deficient and as a result has hot flashes (impacting the hypothalamus which controls the body’s temperature), those hot flashes can be made to cease by either increasing the amount of estrogen in the body or by increasing the level of serotonin in the body. Thus, women who suffer from menopausal depression due to the low level of estrogen their body is producing are given by “mainstream” doctors either hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen or anti-depressants which increase the level of serotonin in the body.
This long introduction to a very complicated system in the body–the endocrine gland system–has been outlined here in order to understand how a high quality, Peruvian grown and processed, Maca root (Lepidium meyenni) product, with high levels of chemical actives works to impact the hormonal system of the body.
How Does Maca Affect the Endocrine System?
The great discovery by the Albany Medical College, part of the State University of New York, in 2004 was that a high quality Maca Root Concentrate was shown to increase tissue levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is one of those precursor hormones, in this case made by the liver, not by the hypothalamus or the pituitary glands. IGF-1 impacts the functioning of all of the endocrine glands, including the thyroid, the ovaries, testes, thyroid and pancreas, as well as having direct effects on the functioning of the body systems, including the reproductive, neurological, and muscular-skeletal systems.
The quality of Maca Root product has a fundamental importance in the effectiveness of the use of this cruciferous vegetable to promote the health of the endocrine glands and therefore promote the health of the various body systems. Note: All of the studies of the powerful impact of Maca root on body functions have been undertaken with Maca root grown and processed in Peru. None of these published studies have been produced by Maca root grown and processed in China or other Asian countries.
Another quality issue raised by one company which sells maca root products is the impact of the color of the Maca roots on the different hormonal systems of men and women at different stages in their reproductive cycles (i.e. peri-menopausal and post-menopausal). The marketing of this company’s products includes the claim that the use of particular colors of Maca roots for men and the different categories of women make their maca products far more effective than maca products made without regard to color of the roots.
Not only does this claim fly in the face of the traditional wisdom accumulated over millennia of use of Maca root by native Andean peoples of Peru, but it has only been supported by research of one group of scientists paid by this company to do the research (sponsored research). None of the published studies and the even more numerous unpublished studies conducted by independent university research teams and plant pharmacology students have selected the Maca roots used in their studies by color, yet the results of these studies suggest that Maca root is highly significant in promoting hormonal health of both men and women, irrespective of color!