Ashwagandha vs. Maca Root: Pros, Cons & When To Use Both!

Ashwagandha and maca are two superfoods that have been used for thousands of years to promote wellness. There are some similarities between the two — such as their ability to promote calmness — but there are also many differences. 

Whether you choose to take ashwagandha, maca, or both, it’s important to know what exactly your wellness goals are. To help you make the decision, this guide from Sunwink breaks down the benefits of each superfood and explains when you should take them. 

What Is Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha is a plant that’s traditionally used in Ayurvedic healing traditions. It’s officially known as an adaptogen, which means that it can adapt itself to someone’s unique needs and promote the type of changes they need. 

Ashwagandha has been used in India and China for many purposes, such as boosting sex drive, reducing emotional stress, and promoting a sense of wellbeing. Even though it’s popular in ancient healing traditions, there’s plenty of modern research to back up ashwagandha’s awesome benefits

What Are the Benefits of Ashwagandha?

1. May Promote Calm & Relaxation 

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha is an excellent way to protect from emotional stress while boosting calm. This superfood won’t give you the effects of some potent anti-stress remedies — such as alcohol — but it can make you feel pleasantly relaxed. 

Ashwagandha can be taken day or night. We personally prefer to kick back in the evening with a glass of Hibiscus Mint Unwind Sparkling Superfood Tonic, but it’s totally up to you to decide how to take it!

2. May Support Better Sleep

There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning at night and waking up in the morning feeling super on-edge as a result. Not everyone wants to take sleeping pills — which, FYI, have some serious side effects

Because ashwagandha has a relaxing effect, it can help support sleep naturally. It may not only make it easier to fall asleep but even help with waking up rested and refreshed. 

3. May Improve Physical Performance 

The benefits of ashwagandha aren’t only confined to the mind! This powerful superfood can also improve how your body works — which is important for anyone from elite athletes to occasional power walkers. 

One study even found that supplementing with ashwagandha can increase strength. According to the researchers of the study, ashwagandha even appeared to have increased muscle mass. Definitely not something we’d pass up easily!

What Is Maca? 

Maca root is a plant native to the Andean mountains in Peru. It’s been used for at least 2,000 years by native tribes, but today, it’s a popular superfood supplement with plenty of research to back up its efficacy. 

Maca root is traditionally used to support hormonal health, especially sex hormones. But it’s also viewed as a way to boost energy, sex drive, memory, and learning, making it a great all-purpose superfood to support general wellness. 

Plus, it has a sweet, nutty taste that resembles butterscotch, so taking it definitely won’t be unpleasant!

What Are the Benefits of Maca?

1. May Support Libido

One of the traditional uses of maca was to boost libido — A.K.A. sex drive. Well, it turns out that these benefits are actually real. 

For instance, one study found that men experienced significant improvements after just eight weeks of supplementing with maca. 

2. May Support Energy

Everyone wants increased energy so they go through life feeling their best. There are many ways to get there, such as getting more sleep or drinking more water. But for those days you need a little something extra, maca can be your best friend.

Maca root is full of antioxidants, which is why it can help to boost energy levels. In one study, healthy participants who supplemented with maca root reported a significant boost in energy — without changing anything else. 

Plus, unlike some other stimulants (we’re looking at you, coffee), maca doesn’t give you a crash that makes you feel worse than before. Rather, the energy boost from maca is steady, gradual, and long-lasting.

3. May Support Brain Health

Our brains are very sensitive to the stresses of daily life. If we’re tired, overworked, or burned out, we can experience poor concentration, memory loss, and overall brain fog. 

Well, some neuroprotective superfoods can help to buffer some of these effects on your brain. 

Maca may just be one of those neuroprotective superfoods — maca may help support cognitive performance during the aging process. 

You can try taking maca if you notice your thinking is a little more foggy than usual. Or you can include maca in your daily routine to protect yourself from the effects of stress. The choice is yours!

What Are the Differences Between Maca and Ashwagandha? 

The main similarity between ashwagandha and maca is that they can boost energy and promote physical performance — albeit in different ways. 

Ashwagandha improves energy due to its adaptogenic effects, while maca does so thanks to its high antioxidant content. However, with both superfoods, people generally experience an improvement in their energy. 

However, there are more differences than similarities between the two.

Ashwagandha works in a completely different way from maca. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha can regulate the body’s stress response, balancing stress hormones that bring on the physical side effects of stress. 

Maca doesn’t directly affect stress hormones. However, it helps to protect the body from physical, emotional, and environmental stress thanks to its high antioxidant content. 

All in all, ashwagandha’s claim to fame lies in its ability to reduce stress, promote calm, and improve sleep. On the other hand, maca is better known for its ability to increase libido, improve cognitive function, and boost athletic performance. 

Should I Take Maca or Ashwagandha? 

Which superfood you should take mainly depends on your goals.

You can think of Ashwagandha as an anti-stress superfood that helps to bring the body back down in times of stress or to make it more resilient in difficult times. 

If you feel especially on-edge, then a little ashwagandha — which you can find in our Hibiscus Mint Unwind Sparkling Superfood Tonic — can help with relaxation. 

On the other hand, if you want more of an energy boost — for your mind and body — then maca can be your go-to. Maca can also act as an aphrodisiac, putting you “in the mood” quicker. You can get a hefty dose of maca in our Cacao Clarity Superfood Powder.


Ashwagandha and maca are both awesome superfoods that have been used for thousands of years to promote health and wellness. 

While there are some similarities between the two, ashwagandha is more well-known for reducing stress, while maca is an excellent energy booster. 

If you can’t pick which one to take, we have good news: You can take both ashwagandha and maca at the same time. And with our delicious superfood powders and sparkling superfood tonics, it couldn’t be easier to do so!


Our sources: 

An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda | PMC

Residual Effects of Sleep Medications Are Commonly Reported and Associated with Impaired Patient-Reported Outcomes among Insomnia Patients in the United States | PMC

Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis | PMC

Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Withania somnifera on Strength Training Adaptations and Recovery: The STAR Trial | PMC

Biological effects of Lepidium meyenii, maca, a plant from the highlands of Peru. | Semantic Scholar

Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men | NCBI

Preservation of Cognitive Function by Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Is Associated with Improvement of Mitochondrial Activity and Upregulation of Autophagy-Related Proteins in Middle-Aged Mouse Cortex | PMC

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