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What is Tongkat Ali?

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Eurycoma longifolia, commonly known as Tongkat Ali, long jack, or Malaysian ginseng, is a plant found in the Malaysian rainforest [1].
It is best known for its ability to enhance libidotestosterone levels, erectile function, sexual performance, and fertility in men, giving it the name “Malaysia’s home-grown Viagra” [2].
However, this plant also has a variety of other benefits including:
  • Promoting bone formation [3]
  • Increasing muscle strength and athletic performance [4]
  • Improving physical and mental energy levels and overall quality of life [56]
  • Reducing anxiety and stress [4]
  • Anticancer effects [7]
  • Antimicrobial and antifungal effects [8]
  • Antiulcer effects [9]
  • Antioxidant effects [10]
  • Lowering blood sugar [11]


The stem and root extracts of the Eurycoma longifolia plant contain:
  • Quassinoids (e.g., eurycomaoside, eurycomanone, pasakbumin-B): These compounds have anticancer, antiparasitic, and antiulcer effects [12, 912].
  • Alkaloids, which have anticancer and antibacterial properties [131114].

Mechanism of Action

Tongkat Ali
 increases testosterone levels by [154]:
  • Stimulating the production of testosterone from pregnenolone and 17-OH-pregnenolone
  • Blocking aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogens
Tongkat Ali helps with male osteoporosis by [16]:
  • Stimulating bone cell growth (via testosterone)
  • Increasing the activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), an enzyme that plays a role in the development of bones and teeth
  • Enhancing the deposition and mineralization of collagen
Tongkat Ali helps with cancer by [121718]:
  • Inhibiting tumor growth and progression (by inhibiting NF-κB)
  • Promoting cancer cell death
Tongkat Ali improves gut health by [9]:
  • Reducing excess stomach acid, which helps prevent ulcers

Health Benefits of Tongkat Ali

1) Tongkat Ali May Increase Testosterone

A 5-week pilot study of 25 seniors found that Tongkat Ali increased testosterone levels and muscle strength in both men and women [19].
Tongkat Ali supplementation also increased testosterone levels in a 4-week study of 76 men with hypogonadism (an impaired function of the testes) [6].
However, in a 15-week study (DB-RCT) of 13 recreational athletes, Tongkat Ali did not increase testosterone levels in the urine, prompting the researchers to conclude that it does not breach the International Olympic Committee doping policies [20].
Tongkat Ali significantly increased testosterone levels in rats [21].

2) Tongkat Ali Improves Male Fertility

A 12-week study (DB-RCT) of 109 men (ages 30 to 55) found that Tongkat Ali increased sperm motility and semen volume compared to placebo [5].
In another 9-month study of 75 males with infertilityTongkat Ali supplements improved semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, and sperm quality, thereby enhancing fertility [1].
Studies in rats also showed that Tongkat Ali reversed the inhibitory effects of estrogen on testosterone production and increased sperm production, count, concentration, motility, and vitality [222123].

3) Tongkat Ali Improves Male Sexual Health

A 12-week study (DB-RCT) in 109 men found that Tongkat Ali increased libido and improved erectile function compared to placebo [5].
Similarly, a 12-week study (DB-RCT) of 26 men found that a freeze-dried water Tongkat Ali supplement improved sexual performance and increased the hardness and duration of erection[24].
Tongkat Ali also enhanced libido, sexual arousal, and performance in healthy, impotent, castrated, and old male rats, and middle-aged mice [252627282930].

4) Tongkat Ali May Enhance Muscle Strength

Tongkat Ali supplements increased muscle strength in both men and women in a 5-week pilot study of 25 seniors [19].
Similarly, in a 5-week pilot study of 14 healthy men, Tongkat Ali increased muscle strength and size and improved athletic performance [31].

5) Tongkat Ali May Promote Weight Loss

Tongkat Ali reduced fat mass, waist circumference, and hip size compared to placebo in a 12-week study (DB-RCT) of 109 men [5].
Another (pilot) study in 14 healthy men showed that Tongkat Ali supplements increased muscle strength and size while decreasing body fat after 5 weeks [31].
Tongkat Ali also reduced body weight and belly fat in mice. However, it did not affect the weight of the internal organs [21].

6) Tongkat Ali May Treat Male Osteoporosis

Tongkat Ali strengthens bones by [3]:
  • Increasing testosterone levels
  • Stimulating the production of osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells
  • Triggering the death of cells that break down bone tissue (osteoclasts)
  • Decreasing bone loss and preserving bone mass
Thus, it may be used for male osteoporosis treatment.
In the lab, Tongkat Ali activated the production of bone-building proteins (such as BMP-2, RUNX-2, and OCN), which increases bone formation [1632].
Tongkat Ali also prevented calcium loss in the bones of castrated male rats with osteoporosis [3334].
However, in another study, Tongkat Ali did not restore testosterone levels and bone volume in the castrated rats with osteoporosis [35].

7) Tongkat Ali May Combat Cancer

Tongkat Ali prevented the growth of subcutaneous (under the skin) tumors in mice [36].
Lab studies found that Eurycoma longifolia (the plant that Tongkat Ali originates from) contains specific compounds (quassinoids) that prevent cancer cell growth and progression [12171836].
Other cell-based studies found that Tongkat Ali was effective against various types of cancers including leukemia, and lung and breast cancers. However, it only showed moderate effectiveness against gut cancer [737].

8) Tongkat Ali May Reduce Stress And Anxiety

A 4-week study on 63 moderately stressed people showed that Tongkat Ali root extract reduced stress hormone (cortisol) levels, tension, anger, and confusion [15].
Tongkat Ali also reduced the frequency of fighting episodes and increased exploratory behavior in mice [38].

9) Tongkat Ali May Enhance the Immune System

In a 4-week study (DB-RCT) of 83 subjects, Tongkat Ali supplements increased T cells, CD4+ T cells, and naïve T cell numbers, which enhanced overall immune function [39].

10) Tongkat Ali May Reduce Blood Sugar

Tongkat Ali reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic rats [40].

11) Tongkat Ali May Decrease Blood Pressure

In rats, Tongkat Ali widened blood vessels, which lowered blood pressure [41].

12) Tongkat Ali Decreases Pain And Inflammation

In the lab, Tongkat Ali exhibited antioxidant (free radical scavenging) and anti-inflammatoryproperties [10].

13) Tongkat Ali May Combat Bacteria

Tongkat Ali inhibited the growth of harmful bacteria in the lab (such as SalmonellaE. coli, staph, and typhoid-causing bacteria) [42R].

14) Tongkat Ali May Fight Parasites

In the lab, Tongkat Ali inhibited the growth of Blastocystis sp, a parasite that causes intestinal problems [43].
Another lab study showed that Tongkat Ali inhibited the growth of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite causing toxoplasmosis [44].
This is likely due to its content of quassinoids, compounds that exhibit anti-parasitic properties by inhibiting parasitic growth, movement, and reproduction [12].
These compounds are also toxic to Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for malaria[454647].

15) Tongkat Ali Has Antiulcer Properties

Tongkat Ali contains quassinoids (eurycomanone and pasakbumin-B), which prevent ulcers by reducing excess stomach acid [9].
Tongkat Ali reduced the severity of alcohol-induced stomach injuries in rats [48].

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