Tongkat ali, also known as Eurycoma Longifolia Jack, is an herb native to parts of South East Asia where it has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac.1 Today, it is an ingredient readily added to many of the best-selling testosterone boosters on the market.
In this article I will discuss the current literature on tongkat ali supplementation and how it can enhance your androgen status as a male.
Tongkat Ali Affects Testosterone Levels
In a 2012 study, 76 men screened for late-onset hypogonadism were brought into a lab and given 200mg of a standardized water-soluble extract of tongkat ali for one month. At the start of the experiment, only 35.5% of the subjects had testosterone levels in the normal range. At the one-month mark, 90.8% of the subjects’ testosterone levels had elevated into the normal range.2
In another study, researchers observed the effects of tongkat ali supplementation on 25 physically active men and women between the ages of 57-72. Each of the 13 men and 12 women were given a daily dose of 400mg of tongkat ali extract. Five weeks later, the men experienced a 15.1% increase in total testosterone levels and a whopping 61.1% increase in free testosterone levels. The female subjects experienced even more drastic results: an average increase of 48% in total testosterone levels and a 122% increase in free testosterone levels.3 Although the elevation in the female subjects’ testosterone was drastic, levels remained well within the normal physiological range.
The above two studies lend credence to tongkat ali’s testosterone boosting abilities in both men and women. The more testosterone there is running through your veins, the faster you’ll be able to recover from your workouts, and the more muscle you’ll build as a result.
Tongkat Ali Affects Muscle Growth
In the study on elderly men and women cited above,3 researchers also took measure of muscular force via a handgrip dynamometer test. In men, tongkat ali supplementation increased muscular force by 16% while in women, the increase was seen at 13.7%. These aren’t significant numbers, but keep in mind that supplementation was the only factor that led to these results.
Tongkat ali’s impact on muscle and strength is further exemplified when combined with some form of resistance-training. In a study of 14 healthy men, subjects were randomly assigned to ingest either 100mg of tongkat ali extract or placebo over a period of five weeks. During the experiment, subjects were also put on an intense strength-training program (performed on alternate days, five days a week). Researchers kept track of their subjects’ body composition, arm circumference, and 1 rep max (exercise not mentioned). At the five week mark, the men receiving tongkat ali gained 4.68 pounds (2.13kg) of lean muscle mass, while no notable increases were noted in placebo. The supplement group also lost more body fat, gained more strength, and gained more size on their biceps compared to the placebo group.4
The research regarding tongkat ali’s ergogenic effects is still in preliminary stages, but the current evidence seems promising.
Tongkat Ali Affects Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is the hormone your body releases in times of stress. It is catabolic in the sense that the more of it you have in your body, the more likely your body is to break down muscle for energy. Also, it is a steroid hormone and is derived from the same raw material as testosterone (i.e. higher cortisol equals lower testosterone). In the pursuit of muscle and strength, cortisol is definitely something you want less of. As it turns out, tongkat ali supplementation can help you with that.
64 moderately stressed subjects (32 men and 32 women) were brought into a lab and randomly assigned to ingest either 200mg of tongkat ali or placebo for four weeks. At the end of the experiment, the subjects given tongkat ali had, on average, 16% lower cortisol levels and 37% higher free testosterone levels compared to placebo.5 Furthermore, they also experienced decreases in tension (-11%), anger (-12%), and confusion (-15%) as assessed by the Profile of Mood States survey.
Supplementing with tongkat ali can allow your body to better cope with the chemical effects of stress. Less cortisol means increased feelings of calm, relaxation, and assertiveness.
Tongkat Ali Benefits Men’s Health
Tongkat ali’s traditional use had to do with male enhancement. As it turns out, recent research tends to support tongkat ali’s status as a pro-fertility and pro-erectile agent.
In a study of 109 healthy men, subjects were randomly assigned to ingest a daily dose of either 200mg of tongkat ali or placebo for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, the supplement group showed major improvements in seminal parameters: an 18.2% increase in semen volume and a 44.4% increase in semen motility.6 The supplement group also scored significantly better in erectile function (as assessed by the International Index of Erectile Dysfunction questionnaire) compared to placebo.
Similar results were found in another study, in which 75 infertile men were given 200mg of daily tongkat ali extract for three months. Supplementation allowed 11 of the 75 men to spur spontaneous pregnancies in their partners.7
Supplementing With Tongkat Ali
Does Tongkat Ali Have Any Side Effects?
Tongkat ali supplementation is considered safe when taken in medicinal amounts for up to 9 months. That being said, it is always wise to consult with a certified healthcare practitioner if you have any preexisting conditions that you think might interfere with supplementation.
Who Should Consider Supplementing with Tongkat Ali?
Consider supplementing with tongkat ali if you are suffering from innumerable amounts of stress, looking to increase your natural testosterone production, or in need of something to ramp up your sex drive. Tongkat ali’s primary benefits exist within this domain. If you’re pregnant, diabetic, suffer from blood pressure, or are scheduled for surgery, avoid supplementing with tongkat ali.
How Do You Take Tongkat Ali?
To ensure that tongkat ali supplementation works for you, the first point to consider is product quality. There are a lot of sub-par tongkat ali supplements available on the market, so make sure that you purchase from a reputable supplier with a proven track record for delivering quality products. After ensuring product quality, you should look at the dosage. The standard dosage of tongkat ali is 200-300mg of a 100:1 extract. This dose can be spread out in 1-2 doses through the day.
The Bottom Line on Tongkat Ali Supplementation
The current research on tongkat ali’s impact on testosterone and men’s health is promising. That being said, supplements should never be relied upon as the sole measure toward getting results.
Once you have begun implementing the particular lifestyle and diet changes required to boost testosterone, only then should you consider supplementation to help speed up your results.
1. Bhat, Rajeev, and A.a. Karim. “Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack): A review on its ethnobotany and pharmacological importance”. Fitoterapia81, no. 7 (2010): 669-79.
2. Tambi, M. I. B. M., M. K. Imran, and R. R. Henkel. “Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism?” Andrologia44 (2011): 226-30.
3. Henkel, Ralf R., Ruxiang Wang, Susan H. Bassett, Tao Chen, Na Liu, Ying Zhu, and Mohd Ismail Tambi. “Tongkat Ali as a Potential Herbal Supplement for Physically Active Male and Female Seniors-A Pilot Study”. Phytotherapy Research28, no. 4 (2013): 544-50.
4. S, Hamzah, and A. Yusof. “The Ergogenic Effects of Eurycoma Longifolia Jack: A Pilot Study”. Joint Conference of BASEM and BASES. British Journal of Sports Medicine2003;37:464-470.
5. Talbott, Shawn M., Julie A. Talbott, Annie George, and Mike Pugh. “Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition10, no. 1 (2013): 28.
6. Ismail, Shaiful Bahari, Wan Mohd Zahiruddin Wan Mohammad, Annie George, Nik Hazlina Nik Hussain, Zatul Mufiza Musthapa Kamal, and Eckehard Liske. “Randomized Clinical Trial on the Use of PHYSTA Freeze-Dried Water Extract ofEurycoma longifoliafor the Improvement of Quality of Life and Sexual Well-Being in Men”. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2012 (2012): 1-10.
7. Tambi, Mohd Ismail Bin Mohd, and M. Kamarul Imran. “Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility”. Asian Journal of Andrology12, no. 3 (2010): 376-80.