Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia): Efficacy, Uses, and Safety


Tongkat ali, scientifically known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a notable herbal remedy prominently used in Southeast Asian traditional medicine. With a plethora of proposed benefits, from enhancing male fertility to stress alleviation, this Southeast Asian shrub has gained significant attention in the world of herbal supplements.

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The Origin and Composition of Tongkat Ali

Tongkat ali, colloquially known as longjack, is sourced from the roots of the Eurycoma longifolia green shrub tree, indigenous to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. For centuries, it's been a cornerstone in traditional medicinal practices in these regions, primarily addressing ailments like malaria, infections, and male-centric health concerns.

Bioactive compounds identified in tongkat ali include flavonoids, alkaloids, and quassinoids. These serve as antioxidants that counteract cellular damage inflicted by free radicals. Moreover, these compounds offer other potential health benefits that are being rigorously studied.

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Key Benefits of Tongkat Ali

Enhancing Male Fertility and Testosterone Levels

One of the standout benefits attributed to tongkat ali is its capacity to augment testosterone levels, especially in men experiencing a decline in this crucial sex hormone. Dips in testosterone can arise due to various factors, such as age, certain medical treatments, and specific conditions like obstructive sleep apnea.

Clinical findings have corroborated the efficacy of tongkat ali in addressing testosterone deficiency. A noteworthy study involving 76 older males with diminished testosterone reported that daily administration of 200 mg tongkat ali extract led to a normalization of hormone levels in over 90% of the participants.

Additionally, the herb has demonstrated potential in ameliorating male fertility issues, specifically improving sperm motility and concentration. In a study comprising 75 male participants with fertility concerns, a 200 mg daily dose of tongkat ali extract amplified sperm concentration and motility after a 3-month regimen, facilitating pregnancies in over 14% of participating couples.

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Stress Alleviation

Another promising area where tongkat ali shines is its potential to modulate stress hormones, particularly cortisol. This adaptogenic property aids in the reduction of anxiety symptoms and uplifts mood. An exploratory study involving adults with moderate stress documented a significant drop (16%) in salivary cortisol levels in those supplemented with 200 mg of tongkat ali extract daily, in comparison to a placebo group.

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Body Composition Enhancement

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts might be intrigued by tongkat ali's purported ability to bolster athletic performance and lean muscle accrual. This is attributed to quassinoids like eurycomaoside and eurycomanone, which potentially optimize energy utilization, diminish fatigue, and foster endurance.

Preliminary research on this front is encouraging. For instance, a study involving men engaged in strength training highlighted that a daily intake of 100 mg tongkat ali extract led to significant lean body mass gains compared to a placebo group.

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Potential Risks and Safety Concerns

The European Food Safety Authority's 2021 proclamation has flagged concerns regarding the high doses of tongkat ali potentially instigating DNA damage in stomach and duodenum tissues. Hence, the overall safety of tongkat ali remains under scrutiny.

However, existing human trials have largely reported no adverse effects. Furthermore, an exhaustive 2016 toxicological review ascertained that mice exhibited no detrimental changes in liver or kidney functionality upon oral administration of certain dosages of tongkat ali.

It's imperative to acknowledge potential risks of contamination, notably mercury. As a heavy metal, excessive mercury intake can precipitate a spectrum of health complications. Thus, always opting for trusted, third-party-tested brands is paramount.

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Conclusion and Recommendations

Tongkat ali or longjack offers a slew of potential health benefits, including testosterone and mood modulation. However, while preliminary research is promising, larger-scale studies are warranted to fully comprehend its long-term effects and optimal dosages.

Before embarking on a tongkat ali supplementation regimen, it's imperative to consult with a healthcare provider. Special populations, especially pregnant or breastfeeding women and those on specific medications, should exercise caution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is Tongkat ali and where is it commonly used?

Tongkat ali, scientifically known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a herbal remedy traditionally used in Southeast Asian medicine, particularly in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Q2: From which part of the plant is Tongkat ali sourced?

Tongkat ali is sourced from the roots of the Eurycoma longifolia green shrub tree.

Q3: What are the key bioactive compounds found in Tongkat ali, and what are their primary functions?

Tongkat ali contains flavonoids, alkaloids, and quassinoids. These compounds serve as antioxidants, counteracting cellular damage from free radicals, and offer other potential health benefits.

Q4: How does Tongkat ali impact male fertility and testosterone levels?

Tongkat ali has shown potential in increasing testosterone levels, especially in older men with decreased levels. Additionally, it has demonstrated efficacy in improving sperm motility and concentration, which can aid male fertility.

Q5: Are there any potential risks or safety concerns associated with Tongkat ali supplementation?

High doses of Tongkat ali might pose a risk of causing DNA damage in stomach and duodenum tissues. There's also a concern regarding contamination with heavy metals like mercury. It's recommended to choose third-party-tested brands and consult with a healthcare provider before starting supplementation.


The contents of this article, including any references to specific herbs, products, or health-related information, are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Always consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before making any significant changes to your medications, supplements, or general health regimen, especially if you reside within Australia and are bound by TGA regulations. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk. Stay informed and take charge of your health responsibly.