Over the past few years, much talk and hype have been about Tongkat Ali.
It seemingly came out of nowhere and has quickly risen in popularity thanks to top podcasters like Joe Rogan and Andrew Hubermann mentioning it to their massive audiences on their shows.
The truth is that Tongkat has been a staple of traditional medicine in Southeast Asian countries for many years.
It’s been used traditionally for various ailments, including sexual dysfunction, digestive issues, and immunity.1Shaheed Ur Rehman , Kevin Choe , Hye Hyun Yoo, Review on a Traditional Herbal Medicine, Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali): Its Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Evidence-Based Pharmacology and ToxicologyMolecules. 2016
In western cultures, its usage has exploded amongst men looking to boost testosterone and vitality. But is it legit?
In the following review, we discuss everything we know today about Tongkat Ali, including its benefits, side effects, effectiveness, proper dosing, and where to find it.
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What Is Tongkat Ali
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) is a type of plant found in Southeast Asia whose root is used to make supplements that are thought to have health benefits.
Some people believe that taking Tongkat Ali can help increase their sex drive, improve their mood, and boost their athletic performance.
Some studies have suggested that Tongkat Ali may also directly help to lower stress levels and increase testosterone levels in men.
These primary benefits can manifest secondary nootropic benefits regarding mood enhancement, productivity, and overall well-being.
How Tongkat Ali Works In The Body and Brain
Although we have much evidence in vitro, in animals, and humans demonstrating Tongkat Ali’s effectiveness in testosterone enhancement, mood enhancement, and stress reduction, experts still need to clarify the exact biochemical mechanisms underlying these benefits.
Some data points to the potency of “eurypeptides,” a group of small peptides contained in the Eurycoma longifolia plant influencing the release rate of “free” testosterone from its binding hormone, sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG).2M I B M Tambi , M K Imran, R R Henkel, Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism?Andrologia. 2012
Benefits of Tongkat Ali
The preponderance of data suggests that Tongkat Ali can increase testosterone when dosed appropriately.
Biochemically the eurypeptide content of Eurycoma Longifolia increases the activity of the CYP17 enzyme in the testes, increasing the conversion rate of pregnenolone precursors into DHEA and other downstream androgens.
Many studies in humans, animals, and in-vitro have confirmed these findings.
A 2022 meta-analysis of five human randomized controlled trials found significant improvement in total testosterone levels after E. longifolia treatment was primarily reported in healthy volunteers and hypogonadal men.3Kristian Leisegang , Renata Finelli , Suresh C Sikka , Manesh Kumar Panner Selvam, Eurycoma longifolia (Jack) Improves Serum Total Testosterone in Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical TrialsMedicina (Kaunas). 2022
In 2017 another systematic review of randomized controlled trials found “convincing evidence for the prominence of E. longifolia in improving male sexual health.” A strong indicator of Tongkat Ali’s ability to boost testosterone and subsequent sexual effects like libido, sexual performance, and sperm health. 4Hnin Ei Thu , Isa Naina Mohamed , Zahid Hussain , Putri Ayu Jayusman , Ahmad Nazrun Shuid, Eurycoma Longifolia as a potential adoptogen of male sexual health: a systematic review on clinical studiesChin J Nat Med. 2017
Along with boosts in sexual health, elevated testosterone, and vitality can lead to higher energy levels and less fatigue when using Tongkat Ali.
As stated above, Tongkat Ali can significantly improve your mood and overall well-being.
Several human trials have shown Tongkat Ali’s ability to raise specific well-being parameters relatively quickly.
In one study of 63 “moderately stressed” adults, Tongkat Ali reduced Tension (−11%), Anger (−12%), and Confusion (−15%) compared to placebo at doses of 200 mg/day for four weeks.5Shawn M Talbott,Julie A Talbott, Annie George, and Mike Pugh, Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjectsJ Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013
The primary mechanism for this may be TAs ability to raise free testosterone levels, which may affect depression, anxiety, and the mood metrics mentioned above.
However, the data linking testosterone and mood is mixed and can vary from person to person. 6Danyon J Anderson, Parsia Vazirnia , Catherine Loehr , Whitney Sternfels , Jamal Hasoon , Omar Viswanath , Alan D Kaye , Ivan Urits, Testosterone Replacement Therapy in the Treatment of DepressionHealth Psychol Res. 2022
The study mentioned above also noted a decrease in salivary cortisol (-16%), lending to Tongkat Ali’s adaptogenic qualities.
Similar results have been documented in trials with endurance cyclists (-32%).7Talbott S, Talbott J, Negrete J, Jones M, Nichols M, and Roza J., Effect of Eurycoma longifolia Extract on Anabolic Balance During Endurance ExerciseEurycoma Anabolic ISSN Poster Abstract
Some believe this adaptogenic effect may be the main instigator of testosterone enhancement.8Jay K Udani , Annie A George , Mufiza Musthapa , Michael N Pakdaman , Azreena Abas, Effects of a Proprietary Freeze-Dried Water Extract of Eurycoma longifolia (Physta) and Polygonum minus on Sexual Performance and Well-Being in Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled StudyEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014
Strength and Fitness Levels
Many studies detail Tongkat Ali’s ability to enhance strength and specific fitness parameters.
It’s been shown to bolster lean body mass, one rep-max, and arm circumference with just 100mg/day. 9S. Hamzah ahmad nizam mohd Yusof, The ergogenic effects of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia)Br J Sports Med. 2003
These benefits are seen across various ages, genders, and fitness levels.10AeJin Lee, Kyeong Jin Jeon, Hye-Kyeong Kim, and Sung Nim Han, Effect of a 12-week weight management program on the clinical characteristics and dietary intake of the young obese and the contributing factors to the successful weight lossNutr Res Pract. 2014
It even protects against the harmful effects of overtraining by maintaining normal cortisol/testosterone levels and allowing for a more rapid, complete recovery.11William J Kraemer , Nicholas A Ratamess, Hormonal responses and adaptations to resistance exercise and trainingSports Med. 2005
Research into the effects of Tongkat Ali’s benefits beyond testosterone enhancement is beginning to shed light on its broader impacts on the endocrine system, specifically in terms of blood glucose metabolism.
A recent eight-week study on mice bred with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), which causes high blood sugar levels and other problems, showed Tongkat Ali helped lower blood sugar levels, control weight, and lower cholesterol levels. It also improved the performance of special cells in the pancreas called islets, which allow control of blood sugar levels. 12Shaheed Ur Rehman, Kevin Choe, and Hye Hyun Yoo, Review on a Traditional Herbal Medicine, Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali): Its Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Evidence-Based Pharmacology and ToxicologyMolecules. 2016
This study shows that Eurycoma longifolia Jack can be a helpful treatment for NIDDM.
It should be noted that the dose used in this study was relatively high at 150mg/kg.
Tongkat Ali is considered safe, even at relatively high doses of 600 mg/day. Its LD50 is >5000mg/kg, which is very high. 13Shahira M Ezzat , Marwa I Ezzat , Mona M Okba , Salah M Hassan , Amgad I Alkorashy , Mennatallah M Karar , Sherif H Ahmed , Shanaz O Mohamed, Brain Cortical and Hippocampal Dopamine: A New Mechanistic Approach for Eurycoma longifolia Well-Known Aphrodisiac Activity and Its Chemical CharacterizationEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019
Tongkat Ali seems beneficial to experiment with if you want to boost testosterone and reap the subsequent physical and cognitive benefits.
While the exact mechanism of how Tongkat Ali works in the body and brain is not yet fully understood, some data points to the potency of “eurypeptides” in the plant affecting the release rate of testosterone.
It is important to note that further research is needed to establish safe and effective dosing and fully understand Tongkat Ali consumption’s long-term effects.