Maca is a root vegetable or plant native to areas of Peru and Bolivia that has long been used as an alternative medical approach to many ailments and disorders. Research dealing with maca and diabetes shows that compounds in the root may have certain blood sugar-regulating effects in some people. The use of maca for diabetes control is common in some alternative healing programs with individuals often using the fresh root, or its dried and powdered form, in foods and cooking. Most doctors continue to advocate the use of conventional medical treatments for blood sugar control in diabetics, as the full effects of maca and diabetes treatment are unknown.
The use of maca in alternative medicine has long been associated with libido and energy promotion, but further analysis suggests it has a role in diabetes treatment. Some research on the relationship between maca and diabetes shows that compounds in the maca root can help keep blood sugar controlled in type 2 diabetics. Blood sugar is often lowered with the secretion of the hormone insulin, and most research suggests that maca may help with the distribution of this hormone. Although research is minimal and not conclusive, most studies indicate maca's ability to help cells become more sensitive to the effects of insulin, which leads to better blood glucose control.
Researchers are unsure about the exact mechanisms by which maca and diabetes are related, yet many suggest it may play a role in future diabetes treatment. Given enough evidence on its effectiveness for diabetes control, maca may show promise in helping diabetics fight inflammation associated with uncontrolled blood sugar. This is mainly due to the fact that maca contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The fiber in maca may also contribute to controlling diabetes, as dietary fiber has been shown to keep blood sugar levels under control.
It is also suggested that the relationship between maca and diabetes can result in stronger endurance during exercise. Studies have shown that intense exercise is important for keeping cells healthy and sensitive to insulin, therefore keeping blood sugar at healthy levels. Along with a healthy diet, exercise program and conventional medical advice, most doctors agree that the use of maca is relatively safe for most individuals. It is not suggested that maca be used as a sole treatment for diabetes, as this may cancel out established, proven techniques that can safely control diabetes and its symptoms.