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What Is Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat Ali was dubbed the “Asian Viagra” in a report in the New Sunday Times. A natural testosterone booster, it has been used in Malaysia for many years by men to increase libido and to treat erectile dysfunction. Eurycoma longifolia (its Latin name) is also used in the treatment of fever, malaria, ulcers, high blood pressure, tuberculosis, bone pain, diarrhoea, headache and syphilis. Numerous other medicinal benefits have also been reported but are yet to be backed up by scientific research.

 

Overview

Eurycoma longifolia is an evergreen shrub-tree native to the jungles of Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. It is commonly known as Tongkat Ali in Malaysia and Singapore, Pasak Bumi in Indonesia and Tung Saw in Thailand, but many other names exist for this wonder herb around the world. Natives consider every part of this tree to have medicinal effects with the root promoted as an aphrodisiac, health tonic and energy enhancer. Because of its testosterone-enhancing properties, it is also used by body builders to increase the ability to burn body fat and to increase muscle mass and strength.

Tongkat Ali is also known as: Eurycoma Longifolia, Ali’s Umbrella, Ali’s Walking Stick, Long Jack, Malaysian Ginseng, Bumi Batang, Pasak Bumi, Cây bá bệnh and Tho Nan.

How Does Tongkat Ali Work?

The active ingredients found in Tongkat Ali produce testosterone at a steadily increasing rate above your natural level. Testosterone is primarily responsible for the growth and development of male reproductive organs, including the penis, testicles, scrotum, prostate, and seminal vesicles.

An increased level of testosterone has been clinically proven to increase strength, increase muscle mass, reduce body fat and increase libido.

Its effect can also increase sperm density and boost vitality and sexual performance. Results may vary depending on the individual.

What does it do? / Benefits

  • Stronger and fuller erections
  • Better stamina
  • Increased energy levels
  • Enhanced male fertility
  • Higher semen volumes and sperm concentrations
  • Stimulates release of testosterone
  • Improved well-being
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Works for men and women
  • Works within 30-60 minutes
  • Lasts for up to 24 hours

Uses for Tongkat Ali
In alternative medicine, tongkat ali is said to raise testosterone levels, promote muscle strength, and address a number of conditions such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, fatigue, and stress.

1) Erectile Dysfunction and Low Libido
Tongkat ali is often touted as a remedy for erectile dysfunction. There’s some preliminary evidence that it may help. For instance, a small study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that twelve weeks supplementation of a product containing an Eurycoma longifolia extract and Polygonum minus (an antioxidant) helped to enhance sexual performance and erectile function.

Another study, also published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggests that a tongkat ali extract may aid in the treatment of low libido and erectile function.

Involving 109 men between 30 and 55 years of age, the study found that the extract may help increase erectile function, sexual libido, sperm motility, semen volume. Loss of fat mass in those who were overweight was also noted.

2) To Build Muscle
Tongkat ali may increase muscle mass and strength due to its purported effects on testosterone levels.
It is sometimes used as to boost athletic performance, physical strength, and to promote fat loss. In a preliminary study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that 100 mg/day of a Eurycoma longifolia extract for five weeks increased muscle mass and strength in men participating in an intensive strength training program compared to those who participated in the program alone.

Tongkat ali may also help to increase muscular strength in older adults, according to a pilot study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2014. For the study, 13 men and 12 women between the ages of 57 and 72 took 400mg of a tongkat ali extract daily for five weeks. At the study’s end, tongkat ali was found to have raised free and total testosterone levels and muscular force.

A study involving male recreational athletes, however, found that 150 mg/day for seven days before an endurance run (plus an hour before the run) didn’t increase endurance compared to a placebo.

3) Infertility
Tongkat ali shows promise in the treatment of infertility, suggests a preliminary study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology in 2010. Researchers found that 200 mg/daily supplementation with Eurycoma longifolia in men for three to nine months resulted in higher semen volume, sperm concentrations, percentage of normal sperm morphology, and sperm motility, and resulted in spontaneous pregnancy in 11 of the participants’ partners after treatment.

4) Stress
Some research suggests that tongkat ali may help to relieve stress. The available research includes a small study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Investigators assessed stress hormones and mood state in 63 people before and after taking a tongkat ali supplement for four weeks and found significant improvements in the mood states of tension, anger, and confusion as well as decreased salivary cortisol and increased testosterone in those taking the tongkat ali extract.

5) Late-Onset Hypogonadism
Tongkat ali may improve symptoms of late-onset hypogonadism, according to a study published in Andrologia. For the study, 76 people with late-onset hypogonadism were given 200 mg of a standardized tongkat ali extract for one month. Results suggested that the tongkat ali extract was improved scores on the Ageing Male’s Symptoms scale and testosterone levels.

Side Effects
Because so few studies have tested tongkat ali’s effects in humans, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of this herb. The studies that have been done have typically used 200 mg per day for up to nine months. Noted side effects include restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia.

Since tongkat ali may raise testosterone levels, it should not be used by people with conditions that would be adversely affected by higher testosterone levels such as heart disease, hormone-sensitive cancers, liver or kidney disease, or sleep apnea.

Tongkat ali should not be used by pregnant or nursing women or children and by those with medical conditions. People with weakened immune systems should avoid tongkat ali. The herb may interact with medication (such as blood pressure medication, anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications, drugs that lower blood sugar or insulin levels, immunosuppressant drugs), and other supplements.

Concerns have been raised about mercury and lead contamination in tongkat ali products. According to one study, 26% of products tested contained 0.53-2.35 ppm of mercury and did not comply with the quality requirements in Malaysia.

You can find out more about how to use supplements safely here, but if you’re considering using tongkat ali (or any other form of alternative medicine), be sure to consult your primary care provider first.

 

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