Tongkat Ali (TA), Long Jack, or Eurycoma longifolia is a common herbal shrub found along the slopes of hilly terrains in the Malaysian rainforests.
The roots of Tongkat Ali, often called “Malaysian ginseng”, are used as an adaptogen and as a traditional “anti-aging” remedy to help older individuals adapt to the reduced energy, mood, and libido that often comes with age.
A proper supplement will be very bitter due to the presence of quassinoids, which are recognized as some of the bitterest compounds in nature.
Tongkat Ali is mainly used as a testosterone booster or to increase free testosterone, but few know of how it does this or of its other benefits.
Benefits of Tongkat Ali:
- Decreases hesitation time and increases right decision making (R).
- Anti-malaria (R, R)
- Anti-cancer (R, R)
- Potent anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-parasite (R, R).
- Anti-inflammatory (R, R)
- Anti-anxiety (R, R)
- Anti-depressant (R, R)
- Anti-diabetic (increase glucose uptake (a significant antihyperglycaemic effect), reduce lipid accumulation suppress lipogenesis, improves insulin sensitivity) (R, R, R, R)
- Potent antiulcer effect (R, R)
- Anti-Rheumatism effect (R, R)
- Very protective against kidney damage and can significantly decrease creatinine and urea and increase creatinine and urea clearance (R).
- Aphrodisiac (R)
Tongkat Ali & Testosterone
Tongkat Ali is more of a testosterone restorer than a stimulator. However, in men with low testosterone, it’s actually said to be a safe alternative to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), as it’s been shown to restore serum testosterone levels. It can even replace TRT for increasing bone mineral density (R).
It increases, or restores, testosterone levels mainly by inhibiting the aromatase and phosphodiesterase (lowers the breakdown of cAMP, which then increases StAR), protecting the testes from oxidative stress and suppressing α-2-HS glycoprotein expression (R, R).
The aromatase inhibiting properties of Tongkat Ali must be pretty potent seen by how effectively it increases free testosterone. Remember, estrogen is a potent stimulator of SHBG, and Tongkat Ali doesn’t displace testosterone from SHBG, but actually lowers the levels of SHBG, most likely by lowering estrogen significantly.
Some of the “eurypeptides” in Tongkat Ali has been shown to activate steroidogenic enzymes, such as the CYP17 enzyme (17 alpha-hydroxylase and 17,20 lyase) that enhances the metabolism of pregnenolone and progesterone to yield more DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and androstenedione, respectively.
Tongkat Ali is also an adaptogen as seen by significant improvements in tension (−11%), anger (−12%), and confusion (−15%) after a 200mg dose. It also significantly improves the stress hormone profile (salivary cortisol and testosterone) by lowering cortisol exposure (−16%), increasing testosterone status (+37%) and improving the overall cortisol:testosterone ratio (−36%) (R).
In the dieting and overtraining arena, Tongkat Ali has been shown to reduce fatigue, heighten energy and mood, improve stress resilience, improve the sense of well-being, prevent the decrease in the metabolic rate and testosterone from dieting and helps to maintain the normal cortisol:testosterone balance to prevent overtraining syndrome and to enhance body composition and accelerate postexercise recovery (R, R).
A few studies have also found that Tongkat Ali increases muscle mass and strength and reduces fat mass (R, R). However, don’t expect miracles from it in that regard. For proper muscle and strength gains and fat loss, a proper training program and meal plan and the guidance and assistance of an expert in the field will get you there.
Tongkat Ali has been classified as extremely safe according to the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
I think it’s a great herb to use and to have in your arsenal. Just be sure to get a good extract like the ones below.