Tongkat ali is an herb that’s been used as a natural remedy in traditional Asian medicine for hundreds of years.
It’s frequently used for treating a wide assortment of health conditions, from helping with erectile dysfunction, to fighting bacteria and relieving inflammation.
Research indicates that tongkat ali could increase male fertility, lower stress levels, and enhance muscle strength and endurance, but further research is needed to verify these benefits. (1)
So what are the facts when it comes to tongkat ali? We’ll be cover the key areas of using this herbal supplement, including its benefits, dosage, and side effects.
What is Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat ali, (aka, longjack), is an herbal supplement made from the roots of a Southeast Asian shrub tree called Eurycoma longifolia.
It has traditionally been used as a treatment for malaria, low sex drive, diabetes, and infections, all of which have been scientifically proven. (2)
The tongkat ali plant contains several compounds that are believed to be responsible for its health benefits, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and other substances that act as antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals.
Antioxidants are compounds that fight cellular damage caused by molecules called free radicals, which are waste substances produced by cells. Antioxidants are thought to diminish the risk of many health conditions as well as the signs of aging.
Normally, tongkat ali is taken in capsules that contain the herb’s extract, or mixed into a drink.
What Are the Benefits of Tongkat Ali?
The majority of the health benefits associated with tongkat ali haven’t been studied heavily, but some research indicates that it could help in treating infertility in men, elevate mood, and increase muscle mass.
Tongkat Ali Increases Testosterone and Male Fertility
The ability of Tongkat ali to boost testosterone levels in men is not a secret, and has been well researched. Because of this it is commonly found in many testosterone supplements.
Low testosterone can occur for any number of reasons, including aging (andropause), the use of certain medications, heavy drinking, and by certain health conditions.
The result of having low testosterone production can be a weak sex drive, ED, and even male infertility. Because the plant’s compounds are linked to increased testosterone levels, tongkat ali can be an option for treating these conditions.
For example, one study gave 200 mg of tongkat ali extract per day to aging males with low testosterone. After one month, nearly all of the participants experienced an increase of testosterone to normal levels. (3)
Furthermore, tongkat ali has been shown to enhance both sperm quantity and motility, resulting in an increase in male fertility.
Based on all of the available research, tongkat ali shows a high probability of being able to increase testosterone and fertility in many men.
Potential For Stress Reduction
Tongkat ali could potentially reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and elevate mood.
One study researching mood disorders discovered that the effects of tongkat ali extract in mice was similar to that of valium in reducing the symptoms of anxiety. (6)
These types of effects have also been observed in people, but the research so far has been limited.
Supplementing with tongkat ali showed a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol in a study of in patients who took 200 mg per day over a one-month period. The participants also experienced a noticeable reduction in stress and episodes of anger while using tongkat ali. (7)
Although these findings show promise, further research is still needed.
Tongkat ali is commonly believed to increase athletic performance and lean muscle mass, due to the fact that it contains several compounds that are thought to increase energy and stamina, and provide a more efficient use of energy.
These ergogenic effects can lead to enhanced body composition and a boost in physical performance.
One research study showed significant increases in lean muscle mass and fat loss in men using 100 mg of tongkat ali per day while following a strength training program, compared to those taking a placebo. (8)
Additionally, another study showed that daily supplementation of 400 mg of tongkat ali extract caused a significant increase in muscle strength, compared to a placebo. (9)
Interestingly, one smaller study involving cyclists noted that consuming a drink containing tongkat ali while cycling did not provide a boost in performance or strength when compared to water.
What these results tell us is that taking tongkat ali appears to provide some benefits to strength, performance, and muscle mass, but there is a need for further research.
Dosage and Side Effects
So far, research involving people using tongkat ali has not shown any negative side effects.
In fact, one study revealed that taking 300 mg of tongkat ali extract per day was as harmless as taking a placebo. (10)
Other research indicates that it is safe for adults to take up to 1,200 mg of tongkat ali extract daily. However, no research has studied long-term use, so the safety of taking this supplement over extended periods of time is not known.
Furthermore, there was a study that looked at the mercury content of 100 different tongkat ali supplements sourced from Malaysia, and it was discovered that 26 of them contained mercury levels that were over the recommended limit. (11)
Obviously, that’s something we all want to avoid, as high amounts of mercury can lead to mercury poisoning.
Is Tongkat Ali Right For You?
Research shows that using tongkat ali can help decrease anxiety and enhance physical fitness.
It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of low testosterone, diminished sex drive, and male infertility.
Although doses of up to 1,200 mg per day do not seem to demonstrate any negative side effects, the research has not been extensive, and is primarily focused on short-term use.
It’s uncertain if using this supplement over extended periods of time is just as safe and effective.
Also, another concern is the possibility of some tongkat containing mercury. It should also be noted that these supplements aren’t regulated any may or may not contain the amount of tongkat indicated on the label. It’s always best to purchase from a reputable brand that undergoes third-party testing.
Additionally, keep in mind that some supplements may be contaminated with mercury. Plus, they’re not well regulated and may contain more or less tongkat ali than listed on the label. Look for a reputable brand that has been tested by a third party.
And finally, if you are taking prescription drugs or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking any supplement, including tongkat ali.