Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia)

Known also as Longjack and Pasak Bumi, Tongkat Ali is believed to have been used for hundreds of years as a medicinal and rejuvenating plant. It has traditionally mostly been used for headaches, malaria, fungal / viral / bacterial infections, inflammation, and as an aphrodisiac.

Tongkat Ali is a medium size tree which can reach a height of about 15 meters. The trunk of a fully grown tree normally has a diameter of 8-10 cm. It has branches or leaflets at the top of the tree of about a meter in length, and the leaves of Tongkat Ali are about 20 to 40 cm long. It bears clusters of red-brownish fruits of similar size to grapes. Tongkat Ali is in the family Simaroubaceae and is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Laos.

Legend has it that an Indian elder tribesman ‘Ali’ became ill. Against the suggestion of the tribe, he went hunting alone. He got lost and did not return to the tribe as planned. He did his best to survive in the jungle and ate what he could find. A large part of his food intake came from chewing on a short plant and its roots he found abundant in the forest.

This plant was Eurycoma Longifolia. From eating this plant, Ali became more energetic and stronger, and after a few weeks he had recovered from his illness and was able to find his way back to the tribe. When he returned, he looked younger, healthier and the illness was long gone. He was also as vibrant as the younger men in the tribe and even took on a new younger wife. This was all attributed to ingesting this plant, and hence the name Tongkat Ali.

The part of the plant that is most often used for its health and medicinal purposes is the root. A tree normally needs to grow for at least 2-3 years before it can be harvested and one tree normally yields about 1 kg of fresh root. The root contains a number of ingredients, but it is not yet scientifically concluded which of these that impact sexual health. However the ones that are believed to have these properties are compounds called polypeptides, diterpenoids, alkaloids, eurypeptides, glycosaponins, quassinoids and eurycolactones.

When Tongkat Ali is used as a supplement, the raw root has normally gone through a process where certain of the components are extracted while others are not. Often, the components that are extracted are eurypeptides and glycosaponins. If one were to get a 50:1 extract, one would get 50 times the concentration of the extracted components that one would get from a similar amount of the raw root.

Tongkat Ali has been used as an aphrodisiac for hundreds of years with many reports of success. It is claimed that ingesting this plant will make both men and women experience an increase in sex drive, and that it gives a man persistent erections.

Perhaps the most important effect Tongkat Ali has on sexual health, is its claimed ability to increase the body’s testosterone levels. This is reported to happen through four different pathways:

Tongkat Ali is reported to stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone from the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. When this luteinizing hormone arrives in the testes, it binds to receptors on cells called leydig cells. When luteinizing hormone is bound to the leydig cells, the leydig cells are stimulated to synthesise testosterone. Therefore, by increasing the amount of luteinizing hormone in the bloodstream, Tongkat Ali may cause a chain reaction that increases the overall amount of testosterone in the body. To learn more about testosterone on Truelibido, please go here.

Tongkat Ali is claimed to be able to make a specific protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (‘SHBG’), less capable of binding to testosterone. Only about 3% of the testosterone in the bloodstream is unbound to proteins, and is therefore free to carry out its tasks. The remaining 97% is bound to two proteins called SHGB and albumin, and this testosterone is therefore not available for immediate use by the body. When Tongkat Ali makes SHGB less apt at binding to testosterone, it will normally mean that more testosterone is in the unbound and free form, and therefore ready for action.

Tongkat Ali is also claimed to have anti-estrogenic effects. Aromatization is the process whereby testosterone is converted into estrogen. This is done by an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase normally increases when testosterone levels in the body are too high. This is done in order to reduce the testosterone levels and keep the balance between testosterone and estrogen at optimal levels. Tongkat Ali helps reduce aromatization and therefore decreases the amount of estrogen in the body.

Men do need some level of estrogen, but excess estrogen will normally have a negative effect on libido and sexual function as it crowds out testosterone, or rather occupy the receptors that are also used by testosterone. It is relatively common for men with a modern lifestyle to have excess estrogen levels in the bloodstream. This can be due to a diet high in fats and low in proteins, rich in legumes or high in meats treated with estrogen. It can be due to consumption of alcohol, ingestion of chemicals that mimic estrogen in the bFody such as bisphenol A and phthalates, little or no exercise and excess body fat.

There is normally an inverse relationship between cortisol and testosterone levels, meaning when one is high, the other one is low. Cortisol is the ‘stress’ hormone that is typically released in a ‘fight or flight’ situation in order to mobilise strength and alertness for the current dangerous situation. When stress or other factors cause large amounts of cortisol to be produced, testosterone levels will normally be depressed. Tongkat Ali has been reported to have the ability to reduce cortisol levels and therefore have a positive effect on testosterone. To learn more about my experiences with stress on Truelibido, please go here.

In addition to its reported impact on testosterone, Tongkat Ali is also claimed to have an ability to reduce free calcium levels. Calcium is important because it regulates a man’s erection. When a penis is flaccid, the smooth muscles in the penis are kept in a state of contraction, which means they clench around the blood vessels and therefore squeeze blood out of the penis. When an erection forms, these smooth muscles start to relax and therefore allow blood to enter the penis.

When large amounts of free calcium are present, the contraction is strong, and when free calcium levels are reduced, the contraction starts to loosen up. Tongkat Ali is reported to be able to reduce these free calcium levels and therefore make it easier to obtain and keep an erection.

One research study analysed the effect on libido of 300 mg/day of Tongkat Ali extract, supplemented to 109 individuals for 6-12 weeks. The study reported an increase in libido of 14% (relative to baseline) as assessed by self-report surveys after 12 weeks. The study showed no significant change in testosterone levels in the individuals.

Another research study reviewed the impact of 200 mg/day of Tongkat Ali extract on 320 individuals with late-onset hypogonadism. Late-onset hypogonadism is a condition in which the body does not produce adequate testosterone. After a period of one month, the study reported that the average testosterone levels had increased by 46% in the participants, and that 90% of the subjects had their testosterone levels normalized. Also, when the 1 month study was completed, 72% of the persons had normal values in regards to late-onset hypogonadism.

One study reviewed the effect of 200 mg/day of Tongkat Ali administered to 63 persons for four weeks (both men and women), who were in a state of moderate stress. The study reported that after these four weeks, cortisol levels had dropped by 16% and testosterone levels had increased by 37%.

In addition to studies showing promising results in humans from Tongkat Ali supplementation, there are also studies on rats that indicate that Tongkat Ali can have a positive effect on libido and the ability to perform sexually.

One study performed on 24 sexually sluggish male rats (individuals less interested in copulation) analysed the effects of Tongkat Ali extract administered daily for 12 days. The study reported that both 500 mg/kg and 1,000 mg/kg decreased ejaculatory latency by 45% (time from the first intromission till ejaculation) and mounting frequency (total number of mounts preceding ejaculation) increased by 38%, after 12 days. The study also reported that the percentage of mounting and ejaculating animals increased. Other studies on sluggish male rats have also produced similar results.

Another study on rats examined the aphrodisiac property of Tongkat Ali over 12 weeks. In order for male rats to reach a receptive female, they had to cross an electric grid that would produce an adverse shock. The rats supplemented with Tongkat Ali showed a significantly stronger willingness to cross this electric grid and endure pain than the control group. In addition, they also demonstrated a higher level of total number of mountings, intromissions and ejaculations during the 12 weeks, than the control group.

One study reviewed the effect on the levator ani muscle of various doses of Tongkat Ali supplemented to both uncastrated and castrated male rats for 12 weeks. The levator ani muscle forms part of the pelvic floor and is a key muscle in proper functioning of the sexual organs. The results showed that 800 mg/kg of body weight of Tongkat Ali extract supplemented daily produced a significant increase in size of this muscle in the rats. The reason for the increase is believed to be due to the ability of Tongkat Ali to increase testosterone production.

Two quassinoids from Tongkat Ali have in research studies shown anti-estrogen properties. When these quassinoids were injected in rats, a substantial decrease in estrogen levels was observed in these rats. Another study showed that when Tongkat Ali extract at 8 mg/kg of bodyweight was given to estrogen-treated male rats for 14 days, this was able to abolish the suppressive effects of the estrogen treatment on sperm count in the rats.

Tongkat Ali is also reported to have a positive effect on male fertility. As mentioned above, one research study indicated that Tongkat Ali was able to increase sperm count in rats that were already treated with estrogen. Another research study reviewed the impact on male fertility of supplementing with 200 mg of Tongkat Ali for nine months on sub-fertile men. The study reported an increase in sperm concentration of 66% after 9 months, with smaller increases after 6 and 3 months. The study also showed that approximately twice as many sperm exhibited normal morphology after 9 months compared to before the start of the treatment. It should also be mentioned, that there are studies showing no impact in fertility from Tongkat Ali supplementation.

Tongkat Ali is also claimed to increase adenosine triphosphate (‘ATP’) production. ATP is the basic unit of energy in the body, responsible for keeping us alive and going. By increasing ATP, overall energy and vitality will typically also be increased. Because of this, and coupled with the claimed ability of Tongkat Ali to increase testosterone levels, Tongkat Ali is a supplement often used by athletes and body builders.

Tongkat Ali has also been claimed to be an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a plant that has an effect on all or several systems within the body and works to normalize the ones that are out of balance. It will not impact systems that are already in balance, but only target the ones that function sub-optimally. An adaptogen does this without causing harm to any parts of the body and also stops the impact once the body is in balance. In Vietnam Tongkat Ali is known as the ‘tree of a 100 cures’, perhaps due to its adaptogen properties.

In addition to the effects on sexual health, this root also contains protective antioxidants. It is used as a remedy for malaria, high blood pressure, fevers, and fatigue. It is also claimed to have properties that are antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antifungal, anticancerous and antiviral. Tongkat Ali is also used as a general health and well-being supplement for enhancement of the mind and body. It is used to reduce the effects of depression, to combat fatigue and to improve overall strength. It is also used to maintain strong skeletal and bone health.

My Experience

  • Form: At least 100:1 extract in powder form
  • Dose: One half-topped tablespoon (approximately 7 grams)
  • When: One hour before sexual activity
  • Effect on Libido: Good
  • Effect on Erections: Very good
  • Effect on Sensation: Very good
  • Taste: Absolutely awful
  • Verdict: One of my favorite supplements
  • Noticed Side-Effects: None

The effects I have experienced from Tongkat Ali have been absolutely remarkable, and it has now become one of my favorite supplements.

When I first tried Tongkat Ali, I bought 100 grams in powder form from a seller in Indonesia. The seller came across as reputable, had a certificate stating that the Tongkat Ali did not have any toxins exceeding set international standards, and the reviews on the third party website I ordered through (ebay) were good. The powder was a 200:1 extract of the active ingredients.

I had already taken a half topped tablespoon (about 7 grams) of other herbal supplements with great results, so I decided to to the same with Tongkat Ali. Therefore, about one hour before having sex, I mixed one half-topped tablespoon of the powder (about 7 grams) with cold water in a cup. I stirred around with a fork until the powder was dissolved, and then drank the mixture. To me, this tasted just terrible. The taste was very sharp, bitter and just bad. It made me make funny faces. However, the horrible taste-experience was well worth going through.

Because the effects Tongkat Ali gave me were absolutely wonderful! The impact from this herb was simply outstanding, and having sex after taking Tongkat Ali was just incredible.

And similarly to some of the other herbal supplements, Tongkat Ali has impacted my sexual experience in three ways.

Firstly, after about 45 minutes of drinking the Tongkat Ali mixture, I have noticed that it often starts to make me slightly horny. I often start having more frequent sexual thoughts, and often start feeling a small urge to want to have sex.

Secondly, Tongkat Ali has been reliable in producing very solid erections. Normally, as soon as I am with my partner and there is any touching or sexual interaction between us, I get a solid and persistent erection. And throughout sex, the erection normally remain rock hard and just super firm. And typically, the erection also come right back if we take a break and then restarted sex a little later.

But perhaps the most impressive effect from Tongkat Ali has been the impact on the sensations I felt when having sex. The sexual experience when taking this herb has normally been super intense. It has almost been like my body zoomed in on the happy sensations from sex to make them more present and stronger. For me, Tongkat Ali has really made sex more pleasurable, more intense and more blissful.

Tongkat Ali has for me also produced very similar and reliable results. Hence the benefits I have experienced have been very consistent.

Also, I have never experienced any side effects from Tongkat Ali.

Although Tongkat Ali is great on its own, the effects are even more intense when I have combined it with other supplements, such as l-arginine (or l-citrulline), pine bark and ZMA. Today, when I taken Tongkat Ali, I normally always take it with these other supplements. You can learn more about this in the section called The Solution.

Research Studies

Ali JM. Biochemical effect of Eurycoma longifolia jack on the sexual behavior, fertility, sex hormone, and glycolysis. Department of Biochemistry, University of Malaysia: PhD Dissertation; 1993.

Ang HH, Cheang HS, Yusof AP. Effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali) on the initiation of sexual performance of inexperienced castrated male rats. Exp Anim. 2000 Jan; 49(1):35-8.

Ang HH, Cheang HS. Effects of Eurycoma longifolia jack on laevator ani muscle in both uncastrated and testosterone-stimulated castrated intact male rats. Arch Pharm Res. 2001 Oct; 24(5):437-40.

Ang HH, Cheang HS. Studies on the anxiolytic activity of Eurycoma longifolia Jack roots in mice. Jpn J Pharmacol. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1999 Apr; 79(4):497-500.

Ang HH, Ikeda S, Gan EK. Evaluation of the potency activity of aphrodisiac in Eurycoma longifolia Jack. Phytother Res. 2001 Aug; 15(5):435-6.

Ang HH, Lee KL, Kiyoshi M. Eurycoma longifolia Jack enhances sexual motivation in middle-aged male mice. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2003; 14(3):301-8.

Ang HH, Lee KL, Kiyoshi M. Sexual arousal in sexually sluggish old male rats after oral administration of Eurycoma longifolia Jack. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2004; 15(3-4):303-9.

Ang HH, Lee KL. Effect of Eurycoma longifolia Jack on libido in middle-aged male rats. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2002; 13(3):249-54.

Ang HH, Ngai TH, Tan TH. Effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack on sexual qualities in middle aged male rats. Phytomedicine. 2003; 10(6-7):590-3.

Ang HH, Ngai TH. Aphrodisiac evaluation in non-copulator male rats after chronic administration of Eurycoma longifolia Jack. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Aug; 15(4):265-8.

Ang HH, Sim MK. Eurycoma longifolia increases sexual motivation in sexually naive male rats. Arch Pharm Res. 1998 Dec; 21(6):779-81.

Ang HH, Sim MK. Eurycoma longifolia Jack and orientation activities in sexually experienced male rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 1998 Feb; 21(2):153-5.

Ang HH, Sim MK. Eurycoma longifolia Jack enhances libido in sexually experienced male rats. Exp Anim. 1997 Oct; 46(4):287-90.

Bhat R, Karim AA. Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack): a review on its ethnobotany and pharmacological importance. Fitoterapia. 2010 Oct; 81(7):669-79. DOI: 10.1016/j.fitote.2010.04.006.

Chan KL, Low BS, Teh CH, Das PK. The effect of Eurycoma longifolia on sperm quality of male rats. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Oct; 4(10):1331-6.

Chen CK, Muhamad AS, Ooi FK. Herbs in exercise and sports. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012 Mar 8; 31:4. DOI: 10.1186/1880-6805-31-4.

Chiou WF, Wu TS. 9-Hydroxycanthin-6-One Induces Penile Erection and Delays Ejaculation. J Sex Med. 2012 Apr; 9(4):1027-36. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02296.

Darise M, Kohda H, Mizutani K, Tanaka O. Eurycomanone and eurycomanol, quassinoids from the roots of Eurycoma longifolia. Phytochemistry.1982; 21:2091–2093. DOI: 10.1016/0031-9422(82)83050-1.

Erasmus N, Solomon MC, Fortuin KA, Henkel RR. Effect of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat ali) extract on human spermatozoa in vitro. Andrologia. 2012 Oct; 44(5):308-14. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2012.01282.

Farouk AE, Benafri A. Antibacterial activity of Eurycoma longifolia Jack. A Malaysian medicinal plant. Saudi Med J. 2007; 28(9):1422–4.

Frydrychová S, Opletal L, Macáková K, Lustyková A, Rozkot M, Lipenský J. Effects of herbal preparation on libido and semen quality in boars. Reprod Domest Anim. 2011 Aug; 46(4):573-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0531.2010.01703.

Hamzah S, Yusof A. The ergogenic effects of Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia): A pilot study. British J Sports Med. 2003; 37:464–470.

Ismail SB, Wan Mohammad WM, George A, Nik Hussain NH, Musthapa Kamal ZM, Liske ZM. Randomized Clinical Trial on the Use of PHYSTA Freeze-Dried Water Extract of Eurycoma longifolia for the Improvement of Quality of Life and Sexual Well-Being in Men. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2012), Article ID 429268.

Kuo PC, Shi LS, Damu AG, Su CR, Huang CH, Ke CH, Wu JB, Lin AJ, Bastow KF, Lee KH. Cytotoxic and antimalarial beta‒carboline alkaloids from the roots of Eurycoma longifolia. Journal Nat Prod. 2003; 66(10):1324–1327. DOI: 10.1021/np030277n.

Low BS, Ng BH, Choy WP, Yuen KH, Chan KL. Bioavailability and pharmacokinetic studies of eurycomanone from Eurycoma longifolia. Planta Med. 2005 Sep;71(9):803-7.

Nurhanan MY, Azimahtol HLP, Ilham MA, Shukri MMA. Cytotoxic effects of the root extracts of Eurycoma longifolia Jack. Phytotherapy Research.2005; 19(11):994–6. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1759.

Saadiah Abdul Razak H, Shuid AN, Naina Mohamed I. Combined Effects of Eurycoma longifolia and Testosterone on Androgen-Deficient Osteoporosis in a Male Rat Model. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012:872406. DOI: 10.1155/2012/872406.

Singh S, Nair V, Gupta YK. Evaluation of the aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in sexually sluggish male albino rats. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Jan-Mar; 3(1): 43–47. DOI: 10.4103/0976-500X.92512.

Sholikhah EN, Wijayanti MA, Nurani LH, Mustofa Stage specificity of pasak bumi root (Eurycoma longifolia Jack) isolate on Plasmodium falciparum cycles. Med J Malaysia. 2008; 63(Suppl A):98–9.

Tajul Ariff AS, Soelaiman IN, Pramanik J, Shuid AN. Effects of Eurycoma longifolia on Testosterone Level and Bone Structure in an Aged Orchidectomised Rat Model. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012:818072. DOI: 10.1155/2012/818072.

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Talbott SM, Talbott JA, George A, Pugh M. Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 May 26; 10(1):28. DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-28.

Tambi MI, Imran MK, Henkel RR. Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism. Andrologia. 2012; 44(Suppl 1):226–30.

Tambi MI, Imran MK. Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility. Asian J Androl. 2010; 12(3):376–80. DOI: 10.1038/aja.2010.7.

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Tee TT, Cheah YH, Hawariah LP. F16, a fraction from Eurycoma longifolia jack extract, induces apoptosis via a caspase-9-independent manner in MCF-7 cells. Anticancer Res. 2007; 27:3425–30.

Teh CH, Abdulghani M, Morita H, Shiro M, Hussin AH, Chan KL. Comparative X-ray and conformational analysis of a new crystal of 13α,21-dihydroeurycomanone with eurycomanone from Eurycoma longifolia and their anti-estrogenic activity using the uterotrophic assay. Planta Med. 2011 Jan; 77(2):128-32. DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1250159.

Udani JK, George AA, Musthapa M, Pakdaman MN, Abas A. Effects of a proprietary freeze-dried water extract of Eurycoma longifolia on sexual performance and well-being in men with reduced sexual potency: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:179529. DOI: 10.1155/2014/179529.

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