Tongkat Ali is believed to provide many unique health benefits.
Unfortunately, most of these alleged benefits aren’t exactly proven and there are a lot of exaggerated claims floating around the internet about what Tongkat Ali supplements are capable of.
Not to worry though…
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Tongkat Ali, including what is is, what it does, what it doesn’t do, dosage, side effects, and choosing a high quality product.
In other words, by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly whether or not you stand to benefit from Tongkat Ali.
Let’s get started…
What Is Tongkat Ali?
Eurycoma Longifolia, otherwise known as Tongkat Ali, is a flowering plant native to parts of Southeast Asia, the roots (and leaves) of which have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes.
It also goes by the names Longjack and Malaysian Ginseng.
Tongkat Ali has been used throughout various systems of traditional medicine for a variety of things, from treating sickness to indigestion, but mostly, it’s used for sexual enhancement.
It is one of the most popular herbal aphrodisiacs there is and, although modern science has only recently begun to validate some of the claims made about it, it does appear to be pretty effective.
Tongkat Ali contains several unique molecules which provide the majority of the health benefits.
Some of these molecules (or classes of molecules) may be responsible for different benefits, but ideally you want to find a Tongkat Ali supplement that contains all of them.
It’s typical to see Tongkat Ali listed as “Eurycoma Longifolia (1:100)” or “Eurycoma (1:200)”. These extraction ratios simply indicate how much Tongkat Ali (raw plant material) it took to make 1 gram of Tongkat Ali extract.
For example, a 1:100 ratio would mean 100 grams raw Tongkat Ali was used to make 1 gram of Tongkat Ali extract.
A common misconception is that the higher the ratio, the stronger the product, but this isn’t true. The ratio doesn’t actually tell us anything about the levels of active molecules. Only how much the plant matter was removed.
Research on herbal supplements in general has confirmed that the levels of bioactives are often far from what is stated on the label.
What Are The Benefits of Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat Ali is believed to possess a wide array of benefits, but most of them haven’t been scientifically confirmed. Most of the studies on Tongkat Ali have focused on the area of sexual health.
So far, the following benefits have been observed, though some have more research behind them than others…
Tongkat Ali Is An Aphrodisiac
An aphrodisiac is any substance that increases your libido (sex drive).
Many herbs are said to have aphrodisiac properties, but Tongkat Ali actually has some sound science behind it.
Several rodent studies have noted improved sexual performance, increased mounting frequency (indicative of sexual desire), and faster ejaculation.
Human studies have more or less replicated these results.
In one study, subjects reported a significant libido boost while taking Tongkat Ali. It has also been shown to have pro-erectile properties and improve semen quality.
It’s not entirely clear how exactly Tongkat Ali works, but the aphrodisiac and sexual enhancement properties appear to be pretty reliable.
Tongkat Reduces Stress And Anxiety
Tongkat Ali is sometimes referred to as an adaptogen because it is believed to reduce the impact of stress (mental and physical).
Although the anti-anxiety/anti-stress benefits remain under-researched relative to the benefits pertaining to sexual health, there have been a few studies, the results of which have been pretty encouraging.
In mice, Tongkat Ali has been shown to exert anti-anxiety effects that are almost as potent as Diazepam (Valium).
There hasn’t been much human research in this area, but in one study, subjects taking Tongkat Ali reported feeling less stressed an anxious.
This study also measured stress hormone levels and found that Tongkat Ali supplementation significantly reduced Cortisol.
Cortisol, often referred to as “the stress hormone”, is a hormone secreted in response to stress. It is an important component of the stress response, but can cause harm if chronically elevated for too long.
It’s not clear exactly how Tongkat Ali reduces Cortisol, but it does appear to be fairly potent at doing so.
Tongkat Ali And Muscle Building
Tongkat Ali is commonly alleged to have muscle-building and performance enhancing benefits.
One study found that both male and female subjects taking Tongkat Ali experienced an increase in muscular force.
Another (pilot) study found that Tongkat Ali supplementation increased lean mass and strength in healthy male subjects.
When it comes to cardio though, Tongkat Ali is a no-go.
While there is some evidence to suggest that Tongkat Ali can help increase strength, it does not appear effective for cardiovascular exercise.
Also, the pilot study which showed an increase in lean mass and strength was presented at a conference, not published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Personally, I’m a little skeptical of the results.
Tongkat Ali And Hormonal Health
A common claim attached to Tongkat Ali is that it ‘boosts Testosterone levels’, but this is a pretty big exaggeration.
In reality, Tongkat Ali has been shown to help restore Testosterone levels in mice and humans who are sexually depressed and already have low Testosterone levels.
There’s a big difference between boosting Testosterone beyond the normal range and restoring Testosterone to normal, healthy levels.
Tongkat Ali has only been shown to do the latter.
For that reason, it probably isn’t that effective of a muscle-builder, since you need to boost Testosterone levels far beyond the normal range for muscle growth to actually become accelerated.
In addition to supporting healthy Testosterone levels, research also indicates Tongkat Ali has some anti-estrogen properties.
Research in mice indicates that eurycomanone is roughly as potent as Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) in terms of estrogen suppression, but that’s based on injections.
In reality, the poor oral bioavailability of oral Tongkat Ali supplements prevents it from being so powerful.
That said, it may not be a bad idea to supplement with Tongkat Ali as part of your PCT.
Tongkat Ali For Post Cycle Therapy
Tongkat Ali is one of the most common ingredients in herbal PCT supplements for two reasons:
- It can help restore Testosterone when it’s low (proven)
- It can potentially suppress Estrogen (not proven)
While it actually does make sense to use Tongkat Ali for the purposes of restoring natural Testosterone levels after any kind of steroid cycle, it has never actually been proven to block Estrogen with oral supplementation in humans.
Certain molecules in Tongkat Ali may be anti-estrogenic, but that doesn’t mean Tongkat Ali supplements can effectively block estrogen.
It’s definitely not a good idea to rely on Tongkat Ali as a PCT supplement. You still need something that will actually block Estrogen, like Nolvadex or androsta-3 5-diene-7 17-dione at the very least.
It’s sickening how many herbal PCT supplements claim to have ‘everything you need for total PCT protection’ when it reality they’re nothing more than a mediocre blend of unproven herbal extracts.
Again, it makes sense to include Tongkat Ali in a PCT regimen, but you absolutely SHOULD NOT depend on Tonkgat Ali alone.
Can Females Take Tongkat Ali?
Of course, some of the benefits–like better erections and semen quality–don’t apply to women, but the rest of the health benefits of Tongkat Ali probably do.
Research indicates the aphrodisiac effects of Tongkat Ali extend to females and one study found a slight Testosterone increase in female subjects as well.
Other than that, there hasn’t been much research in females, though.
Tongkat Ali is definitely more beneficial for men than women, but women can still benefit from it.
Tongkat Ali Dosage
Most of the studies in humans have used doses of 200-400mg of a 1:100 extract, so you should too.
Using a clinically effective dose (at least 200mg/day) is imperative. If you’re not taking a dose that’s been proven effective, none of the benefits of Tongkat Ali are guaranteed.
It’s possible that lower doses (like 100mg) could still be effective, but we don’t know for sure.
So why not just stick with what?
Start with 200mg/day for a couple weeks.
If you don’t notice anything, try upping the dose to 400mg. If you still don’t feel anything, you may be because you’re losing a low quality extract.
We’ll talk about how to choose best Tongkat Ali supplement in a minute, though.
First, let’s talk about the potential side effects…
Does Tongkat Ali Have Any Side Effects?
Tongkat Ali appears to be very safe.
If we translate that into human terms, you would need to take A LOT of Tongkat Ali to ‘over-dose’ and there is absolutely no evidence that it causes any harm at 200-400mg doses.
A major concern is that Tongkat Ali can cause hair-loss in men by increasing DHT (secondary to increasing Testosterone) or causes hair-growth in women (secondary to increasing Testosterone), but there’s no evidence that these are valid concerns.
The truth is Tongkat Ali just isn’t that effective of a test-booster, if it is one at all.
Side effects are pretty minimal…
- minor headache (most people have no issues)
- nausea (typically avoided by taking with food)
- digestive issues (completely depends on the individual)
Throughout all of the studies in humans, very few side effects have been reported. It’s pretty harmless (at standard doses).
We can’t be sure about higher doses though. That’s why it’s a good idea to just stick with that 200-400mg/day range, preferably of a high quality extract.
Now let’s talk about how to select one…
Choosing The Best Tongkat Ali Supplement
All herbs contain molecules (bioactives) that are responsible for the benefits. Tongkat Ali is no exception.
There are a ton of Tongkat Ali supplements out there, but most of them aren’t even standardized for the bioactive components.
That’s why I recommend going with something like LJ100, a patented form of Tongkat Ali (1:100) extract which is standardized for 40% glycosaponins and 22% eurypeptides.
LJ100 has been used in several studies as well, adding an element of certainty that is lacking with off-brand extracts.
Another popular form of Tongkat Ali is SD200, a 1:200 extract, meaning 200 grams of Eurycoma Longifolia is used to produce 1 gram.
A lot of people think that because it’s a 1:200 extract that makes it better than a 1:100 extract, but it doesn’t. All those numbers tell us is that more raw plant material was used to make 1 gram. That doesn’t necessarily mean it contains high levels of bioactives.
It could be that the Eurycoma Longifolia used was low-quality. Who knows?
Personally, I like LJ100 because, again, it has been used in several studies. SD200 has not.
It’s up to you though…
The important thing is that you’re Tongkat Ali supplement is standardized for bioactives. Don’t trust any extract that doesn’t list the standardization.
Where To Buy Tongkat Ali
Buying Tongkat Ali supplements can be a little confusing.
Some products are dirt cheap (like $10) while others are priced astronomically high (like $80).
When it comes to herbal supplements, you should never just automatically go with the cheapest option. Quality matters, and high quality extracts tend to cost more.
On the flip side, it’s a BIG mistake to automatically associate the price of a supplement with the quality. You know, the “it’s more expensive so it must be better” approach.
It’s true that high quality extracts, like LJ100, tend to cost more than off-brand extracts, but not Tongkat Ali supplement should cost $80.
That’s just absurd.
I recommend either of these supplements:
They contain LJ100, as opposed to some off-brand low-quality extract, and are appropriately priced.
But any supplement that contains LJ100 is okay.
The Bottom Line On Tongkat Ali
The benefits of Tongkat Ali have been severely exaggerated by the media and the supplement companies that sell it. There’s no solid evidence that it can ‘boost’ testosterone but it may be able to restore it if it’s abnormally low to begin with.
For that reason, I’m skeptical of the muscle-building claims as well.
That said, as an aphrodisiac, pro-erectile agent, and fertility enhancer, Tongkat Ali is effective and reliable. It also may help with stress and anxiety.
Depending on your goals, Tongkat Ali may deserve a spot in your daily supplement regimen.
Just not as a test-booster…