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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 6, Issue 3, Pages 315-316

The Methyltetrahydro-β-Carbolines in Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Av. Honorio Delgado 431, Lima 31, Peru

Received 16 April 2008; Accepted 14 May 2008

Copyright © 2009 Gustavo F. Gonzales and Cynthia Gonzales-Castañeda. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Maca, a plant native to the Peruvian highlands, contains (1R,3S)-1-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline-3-carboxylic acid (MTCA). The family of the tetrahydro-β-carbolines has been associated with both biologically helpful and harmful compounds. We present evidence that MTCA is a natural constituent of Maca, and on consumption no toxicity is found. This suggests that, when consumed as multi-component, MTCA may loose its adversity as drug action.