Tongkat Ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a herbal supplement that has gained popularity for its numerous health benefits. Derived from a tree native to Southeast Asia, this herb has been used for centuries in traditional medicine.
It has been applied to address various issues, including fevers, erectile dysfunction, and bacterial infections.
However, it is worth mentioning that in 2021, the European Food Safety Authority raised concerns that Tongkat Ali may contribute to DNA damage.
In this article, we’ll delve into an overview of Tongkat ali, exploring its benefits, potential side effects, and recommended dosages.
What the Heck is Longjack or Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat ali, also known as longjack, is an herbal supplement derived from the roots of the Eurycoma longifolia green shrub tree, native to Southeast Asia.
It has been utilized in traditional medicinal practices in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Asian nations to address a range of health concerns, including malaria, infections, fevers, male infertility, and erectile dysfunction.
The potential health advantages attributed to Tongkat ali are believed to originate from a variety of compounds present in the plant. Notably, these compounds encompass flavonoids, alkaloids, and other elements that serve as antioxidants. Antioxidants play a vital role in combatting cellular damage caused by molecules known as free radicals, and they may offer additional benefits to the body.
Tongkat ali is commonly ingested through capsules containing an extract of the herb or as a component of herbal beverages.
Tongkat Ali Possible Health Benefits
One of the key reasons why Tongkat ali is sought after is due to its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants play a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals in the body, which can cause cellular damage and lead to various health issues.
By combating these harmful molecules, tongkat ali helps promote overall well-being and supports a healthy immune system.
Potential to elevate testosterone levels
Tongkat ali is recognized for its potential to elevate testosterone levels and enhance male fertility. The capacity of Tongkat ali to raise testosterone levels in males with deficiency is documented.
Low testosterone levels can arise from factors such as the aging process, chemotherapy, radiation therapies, specific medications, testicular injury or infection, as well as certain medical conditions like chronic alcoholism and obstructive sleep apnea.
Low testosterone levels can diminished sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and, in certain instances, infertility. The active components present in Tongkat ali offer the potential to address these concerns.
A group of 76 older men who had low levels of a hormone called testosterone took part in a research project that lasted for a month. They were given a 200 mg of Tongkat Ali every day, substantially elevated the hormone levels, in more than 90% of the participants.
Furthermore, scientific research involving both animals and humans has shown that taking Tongkat ali can lead to increased sexual arousal and might help improve erectile dysfunction in men.
In a specific study, 75 men who were partners of couples struggling with infertility took 200 mg of Tongkat ali extract every day for three months. This resulted in significant improvements in the concentration and movement of their sperm, leading to a successful pregnancy rate of over 14%.
Similarly, a 12-week study that included 108 men aged 30 to 55 found that taking 300 mg of tongkat ali extract daily led to an average 18% increase in the amount of sperm and a 44% increase in how well the sperm moved.
Although these studies highlight the effectiveness of tongkat ali in addressing low testosterone levels and infertility in some men, more thorough research is needed to confirm these results.
Reducing stress hormones
Tongkat ali has the potential to alleviate stress by potentially reducing stress hormones within the body, leading to a decrease in anxiety levels and an improvement in overall mood.
The initial recognition of tongkat ali’s potential role in addressing mood-related concerns dates back to a study conducted in 1999. This study highlighted that Tongkat ali extract exhibited similarities to a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication, displaying the ability to mitigate anxiety symptoms in mice.
Comparable effects have been observed in human subjects, although the scope of research remains limited.
A month-long study involving 63 adults dealing with moderate stress revealed that taking 200 mg of tongkat ali extract daily led to a 16% decrease in cortisol levels in saliva. This reduction was in contrast to the group that was given a placebo.
Moreover, participants who ingested tongkat ali reported experiencing significantly lower levels of stress, anger, and tension.
While these findings hold promise, further comprehensive investigations involving human subjects are imperative to establish the full extent of Tongkat ali’s stress-alleviating effects.
Potential to Enhance Body Composition
Tongkat ali has been frequently associated with the potential to enhance body composition, asserting claims of heightened athletic performance and increased muscle mass.
This idea is based on the existence of certain elements called quassinoids, including eurycomaoside, eurycolactone, and eurycomanone. These components are believed to optimize energy utilization, mitigate fatigue, and augment endurance within the body.
In essence, this supplement is posited to function as an ergogenic aid, a substance capable of elevating physical performance and refining body composition.
A compact study spanning 5 weeks, involving 14 men engaged in a strength training regimen, unveiled that those who took a daily dosage of 100 mg of Tongkat Ali extract witnessed notable lean body mass in comparison to who were administered placebo.
Additionally, these participants exhibited a more pronounced reduction in body fat compared to the placebo group.
Additionally, a study involving 25 physically active middle age adults over the course of 5 weeks found that supplementing with 400 mg of Tongkat Ali extract daily significantly increased muscular strength compared to those who received a placebo.
Nonetheless, similar study perform on cyclists revealed inconclusive outcomes, as the consumption of a Tongkat Ali-infused beverage during exercise did not show signigficant performance or strength benefits beyond drinking plain water.
The variation in these results suggests that Tongkat ali might perhaps exhibit some ergogenic qualities, depending on variables like dosage and time of treatment. To determine the full scope of tongkat ali’s effects in body composition regard, further thorough research is still necessary.
Adverse Effects and Recommended Dosage
A significant dosage (2,000 mg/kg body weight) of water-based extract made from dried, ground tongkat ali was noted in a report published in 2021 by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods, and Food Allergens. This dosage has been shown to have the potential to induce DNA damage in the tissues of the stomach and duodenum.
The panel came to the conclusion that there is no known safety profile for using tongkat ali in any way due to its potential to cause DNA damage.
However, the limited human studies on Tongkat ali usage have not reported any adverse effects.
Tongkat Ali water-based extract test results on mice
A thorough analysis completed in 2016 that included toxicity evaluations showed that mice given an oral dose of tongkat ali in an alcohol-based extract of 200 mg/kg body weight or in a water-based extract of 300 mg/kg did not exhibit any changes in liver or kidney function.
The lethal oral dose for mice, according to the same study, is over 3,000 mg/kg for the water-based tongkat ali extract and between 1,500 and 2,000 mg/kg for the extract based on alcohol.
Tongkat Ali water-based extract test results on human
Additionally, a study involving 109 men aged 30 to 55, conducted in 2012, established the safety equivalence of consuming 300 mg of Tongkat Ali extract daily over a span of 12 weeks is as safe as those taking placebo.
More recently, a 12-week randomized clinical trial conducted in Egypt, focusing on men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction and examining the safety of combining Tongkat Ali with maca root (a natural remedy for low sex drive), has yet to publish its outcomes.
While certain studies propose that daily consumption of up to 1.2 grams of Tongkat Ali extract is generally safe for adults, such quantities have not been use in research. Furthermore, the studies exploring its prolonged use leaves uncertainty regarding the supplement’s safety over extended durations.
Furthermore, there is still a lack of information regarding tongkat ali’s effects on children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers, necessitating an undetermined level of safety for these groups of people.
Tongkat ali appears to be safe for most healthy adults when taken at doses ranging from 200 to 400 mg per day. However, excessive dosages may pose a risk of gastrointestinal DNA damage. The safety of tongkat ali for pregnant or breastfeeding women is yet to be determined. It is important to note that certain supplements may contain mercury, which can have adverse health effects.
Is Tongkat Ali Right for You?
Certain studies indicate that tongkat ali might offer potential benefits such as anxiety reduction and enhancement of body composition, yet the available research remains constrained.
Tongkat ali also shows promise in addressing issues like low testosterone levels, diminished libido, and male infertility.
While current evidence suggests that doses of up to 400 mg per day do not produce adverse effects, the scope of research is limited, primarily focusing on short-term usage.
The efficacy and safety of prolonged tongkat ali supplementation remain uncertain.
If you are considering incorporating tongkat ali into your regimen, it is advisable to seek guidance from your healthcare provider to ensure a responsible approach.
Furthermore, it’s important to be aware that certain supplements could potentially contain mercury contamination. The regulation of these supplements is not stringent, and their actual tongkat ali content may differ from what is indicated on the label.
Opting for a reputable brand that has undergone third-party testing is a prudent choice.
Tongkat ali holds the potential to address issues such as low testosterone, anxiety alleviation, and enhancement of body composition; however, the available research is limited. Prior to introducing this supplement to your routine, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider.
Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669033/
Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3739276/
Safety of Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) root extract https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2021.6937
Phytoandrogenic properties of Eurycoma longifolia as natural alternative to testosterone replacement therapy https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24386995/
Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21671978/
A Clinical Trial to Investigate the Efficacy and Safety of Tongkat Ali Maca Plus https://ichgcp.net/clinical-trials-registry/NCT05347329
Review on a Traditional Herbal Medicine, Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali): Its Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Evidence-Based Pharmacology and Toxicology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6274257/
Review Ergogenic Effect of Long Jack, Eurycoma Longifolia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5214558/
Randomized Clinical Trial on the Use of PHYSTA Freeze-Dried Water Extract of Eurycoma longifolia https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23243445/