Tongkat ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, is known for its aphrodisiac and profertility effects. It’s also promoted as a “testosterone booster”, and while some evidence exists for this effect in men with low testosterone and the mechanisms are plausible, the data aren’t convincing.
Tongkat Ali is most often used for
Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), also known as longjack or Malaysian ginseng (unrelated to Panax ginseng), is an herb from Southeast Asia. The extract of the roots of the plant has been traditionally used to enhance testosterone levels in men, though it has also been proposed to be able to reduce blood pressure, fever, and fatigue. Unfortunately, there’s scant evidence to support these effects. Furthermore, the internet is full of low-quality information about tongkat ali.
The main bioactive components in tongkat ali are the quassinoid compounds (eurycomanone and eurycomanol), eurycolactones, canthin-6-one metabolites, eurylene and teurilene (derivatives of squalene), and eurypeptides.
Tongkat ali has mainly been studied for its use as an aphrodisiac. However, the mechanisms by which tongkat ali may enhance aphrodisia are not well understood, and most of the research has been conducted in animals. This effect seems to be based in lore and tradition rather than hard evidence.
Supplementation may increase total testosterone in healthy and hypogonadal men, improve erectile function and alleviate symptoms of erectile dysfunction, increase fertility, and enhance sexual function and well-being. One study found evidence of an anxiolytic (anxiety and stress-reducing) effect of tongkat ali. It should be noted that evidence for these outcomes is somewhat limited given the lack of published randomized controlled trials in humans.
There is sparse safety, quality, and toxicity data available for tongkat ali from human studies, along with a lack of standard criteria and regulation for its commercial preparations. Some studies have raised concerns about the possible contamination of herbal preparations of tongkat ali by heavy metals in Malaysia, including levels of lead and mercury above permissible limits.
Safety and toxicity studies in rodents have found that the LD50 for tongkat ali (the dose that, when administered all at once, causes death in 50% of test animals) is greater than 3,000 mg/kg for the aqueous extract and between 1,500–2,000 mg/kg for the alcoholic extract. Pathological changes in the liver were observed in rats at a dose of 1,200 mg/kg, corresponding to a 1,200 mg daily dose in humans. However, tongkat ali has been shown to be safe for the liver in humans.
Studies using a dosage of 200–600 mg/day in humans have noted minor side effects, including gastrointestinal symptoms and itching. Otherwise, adverse effects seem to be rare. Tongkat ali is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women; men with breast or prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, or sleep apnea; and children, due to a lack of data in these populations.
Tongkat ali may impede the actions of propranolol, a medication used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), by interfering with its absorption and bioavailability. Anyone using this medication and considering supplementing with tongkat ali should first consult a healthcare professional.
Tongat ali’s effects on male sexual enhancement are primarily attributed to eurycomanone, which has steroidogenic activity. Eurycomanone has been shown to have anti-estrogenic effects. It inhibits the aromatase enzyme and prevents the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the Leydig cells of the testes, the primary site of sperm production in men.
At higher doses, eurycomanone may inhibit phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity, resulting in an accumulation of cyclic AMP, an increase in cholesterol transport, and an increased production of pregnenolone, a precursor for testosterone biosynthesis. Furthermore, activation of the CYP17a enzyme by eurycomanone increased production of testosterone precursors DHEA and androstenedione. Tongkat ali may enhance sperm production by increasing the production of the gonadotropins luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which elevate testosterone and sperm production in the testes, respectively.
- Eurycoma longifolia
- Malaysian ginseng
- Longjack (English)
- Bidara laut (Indonesia)
- Cay Ba Binh (Vietnam)
- Hau Phat (Vietnam)
- Bba Binh (Vietnam)
- Pasak Bumi (Indonesia)
- Langir Siam (Bahrain)
- Piak (Thailand)
- Tung Saw (Thailand)
- Babi Kurus (Japan)
- Penawar Pahit (Malayalam)
- Bedara Mereah (Malayalam)
- Lempedu Pahit (Malayalam)
The standard dosage of tongkat ali for testosterone is 100–600 mg/day. For sexual health and libido, a daily dose of 200–400 mg seems to be effective, which may be divided into 1–2 doses per day, although it’s not known whether one of these dosing regimens is more effective.
Tongkat ali is typically administered orally in the form of a standardized water-soluble extract.
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- ^Leisegang K, Finelli R, Sikka SC, Panner Selvam MK(Jack) Improves Serum Total Testosterone in Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials.Medicina (Kaunas).(2022-Aug-04)
- ^Kotirum S, Ismail SB, Chaiyakunapruk NEfficacy of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) on erectile function improvement: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Complement Ther Med.(2015-Oct)
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- ^Talbott SM, Talbott JA, George A, Pugh MEffect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects.J Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2013-May-26)
- ^Ang HH, Lee EL, Cheang HSDetermination of mercury by cold vapor atomic absorption spectrophotometer in Tongkat Ali preparations obtained in Malaysia.Int J Toxicol.(2004)
- ^Ang HH, Lee KLContamination of mercury in tongkat Ali hitam herbal preparations.Food Chem Toxicol.(2006-Aug)
- ^Ang HH, Lee EL, Matsumoto KAnalysis of lead content in herbal preparations in Malaysia.Hum Exp Toxicol.(2003-Aug)
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- ^Acute and Subacute Toxicity Studies of Eurycoma longifolia in Male Rats
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- ^Salman SA, Amrah S, Wahab MS, Ismail Z, Ismail R, Yuen KH, Gan SHModification of propranolol's bioavailability by Eurycoma longifolia water-based extract.J Clin Pharm Ther.(2010-Dec)
- ^Low BS, Choi SB, Abdul Wahab H, Das PK, Chan KLEurycomanone, the major quassinoid in Eurycoma longifolia root extract increases spermatogenesis by inhibiting the activity of phosphodiesterase and aromatase in steroidogenesis.J Ethnopharmacol.(2013-Aug-26)
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- ^Low BS, Das PK, Chan KLStandardized quassinoid-rich Eurycoma longifolia extract improved spermatogenesis and fertility in male rats via the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.J Ethnopharmacol.(2013-Feb-13)
- ^Henkel RR, Wang R, Bassett SH, Chen T, Liu N, Zhu Y, Tambi MITongkat Ali as a potential herbal supplement for physically active male and female seniors--a pilot study.Phytother Res.(2014-Apr)
- ^Chen CK, Ooi FK, Abu Kasim NA, Asari MAEffects of Jack Supplementation Combined with Resistance Training on Isokinetic Muscular Strength and Power, Anaerobic Power, and Urinary Testosterone: Epitestosterone Ratio in Young Males.Int J Prev Med.(2019)
- ^Alice Erwig Leitão, Melissa de Carvalho Souza Vieira, Diogo Almeida Gomes, Leonessa Boing, Andreia Pelegrini, Edson Luiz, Adriana Coutinho de Azevedo GuimarãesExercise associated or not to the intake of Eurycoma longifolia improves strength and cardiorespiratory fitness in men with androgen deficiencyComplement Ther Clin Pract.(2021 Feb)
- ^Alice Erwig Leitão, Melissa Carvalho de Souza Vieira, Andreia Pelegrini, Edson Luiz da Silva, Adriana Coutinho de Azevedo GuimarãesA 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial to evaluate the effect of Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) and concurrent training on erectile function and testosterone levels in androgen deficiency of aging males (ADAM)Maturitas.(2021 Mar)
- ^Effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack Supplementation on Recreational Athletes’ Endurance Running Capacity and Physiological Responses in the Heat
- Sperm Quality - Ismail SB, Wan Mohammad WM, George A, Nik Hussain NH, Musthapa Kamal ZM, Liske ERandomized Clinical Trial on the Use of PHYSTA Freeze-Dried Water Extract of Eurycoma longifolia for the Improvement of Quality of Life and Sexual Well-Being in MenEvid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2012)
- Erections - Kotirum S, Ismail SB, Chaiyakunapruk NEfficacy of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) on erectile function improvement: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Complement Ther Med.(2015-Oct)
- Testosterone - Shawn M Talbott, Julie A Talbott, Annie George, and Mike PughEffect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjectsJISSN.()
- Testosterone - M I B M Tambi, M K Imran, R R HenkelStandardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism?Andrologia.(2012 May)
- Testosterone - Leisegang K, Finelli R, Sikka SC, Panner Selvam MK (Jack) Improves Serum Total Testosterone in Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials.Medicina (Kaunas).(2022-Aug-04)
- Testosterone - Chan KQ, Stewart C, Chester N, Hamzah SH, Yusof AThe effect of Eurycoma Longifolia on the regulation of reproductive hormones in young males.Andrologia.(2021-May)
- Testosterone - Sasikala M Chinnappan, Annie George, Pragya Pandey, Govinda Narke, Yogendra Kumar ChoudharyEffect of Eurycoma longifolia standardised aqueous root extract-Physta ® on testosterone levels and quality of life in ageing male subjects: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre studyFood Nutr Res.(2021 May 19)
- Strength - Alice Erwig Leitão, Melissa de Carvalho Souza Vieira, Diogo Almeida Gomes, Leonessa Boing, Andreia Pelegrini, Edson Luiz, Adriana Coutinho de Azevedo GuimarãesExercise associated or not to the intake of Eurycoma longifolia improves strength and cardiorespiratory fitness in men with androgen deficiencyComplement Ther Clin Pract.(2021 Feb)
- Testosterone - Henkel RR, Wang R, Bassett SH, Chen T, Liu N, Zhu Y, Tambi MITongkat Ali as a potential herbal supplement for physically active male and female seniors--a pilot study.Phytother Res.(2014-Apr)
- Power Output - Chen CK, Ooi FK, Abu Kasim NA, Asari MAEffects of Jack Supplementation Combined with Resistance Training on Isokinetic Muscular Strength and Power, Anaerobic Power, and Urinary Testosterone: Epitestosterone Ratio in Young Males.Int J Prev Med.(2019)
- Uric Acid - Chen CK, Mohamad WM, Ooi FK, Ismail SB, Abdullah MR, George ASupplementation of Eurycoma longifolia Jack Extract for 6 Weeks Does Not Affect Urinary Testosterone: Epitestosterone Ratio, Liver and Renal Functions in Male Recreational Athletes.Int J Prev Med.(2014-Jun)
- Neutrophil Count - George A, Suzuki N, Abas AB, Mohri K, Utsuyama M, Hirokawa K, Takara TImmunomodulation in Middle-Aged Humans Via the Ingestion of Physta® Standardized Root Water Extract of Eurycoma longifolia Jack--A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Study.Phytother Res.(2016-Apr)