Tongkat Ali – The Ultimate Guide To This Libido Enhancing Powerhouse
A few years back I found myself in Kuala Lumpur with a few days to kill before I flew back to Ireland to spend Christmas with my family.
Feeling a bit peckish one night I decided to order an Uber to Bukit Bintang – the nightlife area of the city to grab some food.
When my cab arrived an older gentleman sprung from the car to open the back door for me, with a grin beaming from side-to-side like the cat who got the cream – and then came back for seconds.
Despite his weathered features which told his true age, he had the energy of a teenager.
Intrigued, I dived into the car and immediately asked him what his secret was.
“Pasak Bumi!” he exclaimed enthusiastically in a crisp accent that brimmed with vigour and vitality.
In near perfect English (not unusual for Malaysia) he proceeded to tell me about how he just returned from Thailand on vacation with his wife of sixty years.
Damn, I thought, he looked old, but not that old.
And he had an herb named “Pasak Bumi” (more commonly-known as “Tongkat Ali” or “Longjack”) to thank for his seemingly limitless energy.
He waxed lyrical about the herb’s libido-enhancing qualities through a theatre of obscene hand gestures and wide grins, which illustrated to me in no uncertain terms exactly how it had helped him with his libido, and ergo his 60 year long marriage!
Not to mention how it boosts his energy levels and kept his 80-something body ticking over.
So bowled over by the abundant youthful energy of my octogenarian Uber driver, I decided to find out for myself all about this supposed libido-enhancing and testosterone-boosting herb.
And I discovered an herb that’s been part of the medicinal culture of South-East Asia for hundreds of years, and it’s only now the rest of the world is waking up to its powerful medicinal qualities.
Who Can Benefit From Tongkat Ali?
- People suffering from low libido, regardless of age and men with sub-optimal testosterone levels for their age group
- People looking to gain lean muscle mass, strength and improve overall athletic performance
- Andropausal men (aka the male “menopause”)
- Men suffering from hypogonadism (reduction or total absence of hormone secretion or other physiological activity of the testes)
- Athletes who engage in strenuous physical activity and are looking to improve recovery time (ultra marathoners, powerlifters etc)
- People suffering from chronic stress and fatigue
How to Take Tongkat Ali
Like my Uber-driving friend alluded to, Malaysian men have been taking Tongkat Ali (translated from Malay as “Ali’s walking stick”) as a tonic for their flagging libidos for centuries.
It can be enjoyed as part of a hearty soup (my driver told me he liked it with his wife’s delicious Penang Curry) or the root can be “shaved” into a hot tea, as long as it’s extracted from a hot solution of some kind; whether it’s soup, water or a curry, as long as it’s hot…you’re golden!
Usually a regular dosage of Tongkat Ali is 200-300mg of a 100:1 extract, though opinion is divided on what an optimum dose is, with one 2013 study suggesting 400mg being optimal.
Because of its strong hormonal effects, it’s best to cycle the use of this herb to prevent against desensitisation. The recommended cycle is to take for 5 days on, two days off, then repeat this cycle.
Tongkat Ali – Composition
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) consists of a variety of bioactive compounds including quassinoids (compounds which may have antiparasitic, anticancer, and anti-ulcer effects), flavonoids, alkaloids (which also may have anticancer and antibacterial properties, eurypeptides (compounds which help normalize hormone levels) squalene derivatives and bi-phenylneolignans.
While it’s primarily used as a male sexual health biohack, it’s also known to be effective in treating a variety of other ailments and conditions, including but not limited to:
It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can also help with reducing stress and anxiety, improving gut health, supporting optimal bone density, elevating mood, boosting immunity – along with providing antimicrobial and antifungal effects.
So let’s dive deeper into how Tongkat Ali works and clear up a big misconception about it effects testosterone.
How Tongkat Ali Increases Your Testosterone Levels
Tongkat Ali does not synthesize more raw testosterone like how anabolic steroids do.
It simply makes more of your testosterone bioavailable by working as an adaptogen to bring you back to your normal, balanced levels.
Testosterone that’s often not available because of injury, aging, medication, adverse diet and lifestyle, poor quality sleep not to mention a variety of other issues like alcoholism.
So if you’re someone who happens to have low testosterone for your age, Tongkat Ali is one of the best biohacks out there.
And with testosterone levels today amongst men at historic lows it’s clear this herb is one which could be beneficial to large swathes of the population.
Tongkat Ali works in two parts:
First, there’s the initial energy boost you’ll receive after about an hour of taking Tongkat after as it goes to work on your neurotransmitters.
The second phase happens in the days and weeks following, as Tongkat Ali works by stimulating the endocrine system into freeing up more testosterone and decreasing cortisol production, and by blocking aromatase – the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogens.
So the effects of Tongkat Ali in restoring normal testosterone levels appears to be less due to actually “stimulating” testosterone synthesis, but rather by increasing the release rate of “free” testosterone from its binding hormone, sex-hormone-binding-globulin.
Tongkat Ali and Late-Onset Hypogonadism
One 2012 study of 76 male subjects suffering from late onset hypogonadism (reduced functional activity of the testes) shows encouraging results.
Before the study, just 35.5% of the men showed normal testosterone levels for their age, but one month after 90.8% of the subjects were able to normalise their levels of testosterone to what we might expect for men of their age group.
Proven to Reduce Cortisol Levels by up to 16%.
For 4 weeks a group of 63 moderately stressed subjects (32 male, 31 female) were given two different hot water solutions – one half (32 to be exact) containing extract of Tongkat Ali, the other (31) given a placebo.
The results showed that the Tongkat Ali control group showed significant improvements in tension with a reduction of 11%, anger was reduced by 12%, confusion reduced by 15%, cortisol showed a reduction of 16% and testosterone levels improved by 37%.
Tongkat Ali for Improved Sexual Desire
A group of 26 men aged 40-65 were given a solution consisting of “physta” (a freeze dried water extract of Tongkat Ali) and Polygonum Minus, an antioxidant. The placebo consisted of 14 men, with the active group consisting of 12.
Of the 12 men in the active group, significant improvements were noted in increase in sexual desire and erection hardness.
Tongkat Ali for Improved Erectile Function & Sexual Libido
Over a 12 week period a sample size of 109 men between the ages of 30 and 55 underwent a double-blind, randomised, placebo controlled group study to observe the effects of Tongkat Ali in men.
Half of the men were given a 300mg water extract of E.longifolia with the other half were given a placebo.
The Tongkat Ali control group scored a significant improvement in the domain of erectile function and sexual libido (14% by week 2), sperm motility had improved for the control by 44.4% with semen volume improving by 18.2% by the end of treatment.
And those with a BMI of greater than 25kg/m(2) saw a noted improvement in fat loss, too.
Tongkat Ali for Better Athletic Performance
25 physically active seniors (with ages ranging from 57-75) supplemented with 400mg of Tongkat Ali hot water extract over a 5 week period.
The participant’s muscle strength was tested before and after by means of a simple handgrip test, and it was discovered the treatment resulted in significant increases in testosterone concentration and muscular strength for both men and women.
Another study conducted by the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur trialed 14 healthy men performing a strength training programme on alternate days for five weeks, with seven of the men randomly selected to consume 100mg/day Tongkat Ali hot water extract, the other seven men receiving a placebo.
The workout intensity began at 60% rep max and gradually increased in intensity (by 10% rep max) over the five week period.
The lean body mass of the Tongkat Ali group showed a marked improvement, as opposed to the placebo group which showed no significant change.
With regards to strength changes, the increase in strength in the treatment group contrasted markedly with the placebo group (6.78% treatment to 2.77% placebo), not to mention the treatment group showed a reduction in bicep muscle electrical activity along with a significant increase in mean arm circumference (1.8cm for the treatment group.)
Encouraging results for sure, and further demonstrate the positive effect that Tongkat Ali has with regards to increasing overall mass, muscle strength and size.
Tongkat Ali for Preventing Osteoporosis and Increasing Bone Density
One of the biggest health concerns of hypogonadism (reduced functional activity of the testes) and the onset of andropause (male menopause) is the decrease in bone density, also known as osteoporosis.
Traditionally, this has been treated with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) but Tongkat Ali proved itself to be a worthy alternative, without the often undesirable side effects of TRT.
It does this by increasing bioavailable testosterone levels which in turn stimulate the production of osteoblasts (or bone-forming cells), in turn maintaining bone modeling activity and reducing bone loss.
Tongkat Ali – Side Effects?
Although there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest Tongkat Ali taken to excess may cause heartburn, insomnia and restlessness, a study from 2013 suggests Tongkat Ali had no side effects.
And this study  conducted of twenty healthy males of age range 38-58 where high doses (600mg/day) of Tongkat Ali were found to have no effect on blood profiles or found to have any negative impact on liver or renal function.
My Personal Experience With Tongkat Ali.
Firstly – a disclaimer. My experience is anecdotal, self reported and isn’t backed by hard clinical data.
But let’s starts with as much baseline information as possible. About me – 41 years old male, in good health and overall well-being.
No spring chicken by any means, but not quite over-the-hill yet.
At this time of writing (May 2019) I have to assume my testosterone levels are normal for my age; blood work done in 2017 suggested slightly above normal readings and I’ve no reason to suspect a significant change since then.
Over a 6 week period earlier this year (2019) I took 250mg (100:1) of hot water Tongkat Ali extract (mixed with a tablespoon of organic honey to take the edge off it’s very bitter taste) each morning an hour before my normal workout, in a 5 day on 2 day off cycle.
Usually about an hour after taking the extract I would get an energy rush (similar to taking Niacin) which was my cue to hit the gym and start attacking the iron.
And my workouts? I noticed a marked increase in stamina, aggressiveness and raw power, with all of my lifts improving far beyond what I might expect in that kind of timeframe.
Especially with regards to squats – a particular exercise I had not attempted for almost 18 months due to injury. Within six weeks I had progressed to 65kg for five sets of 12-10 reps from a starting baseline of 25kg. The squat is an exercise I’ve always considering challenging, but I found pushing out that “one last rep” to be markedly easier whilst taking Tongkat Ali.
One area of training I’ve always hated, nay despised was intense cardio, or any cardio for that matter. I usually do a 5 minute HIIT workout on the bike or the heavy bag to finish my workout off, and it’s always something I dread (to the point where I would occasionally skip it entirely!)
But while taking Tongkat Ali I was able to attack it with a new found aggressive gusto.
And not once did I skip my HIIT workout during the six week period.
Mass increased substantially with my overall weight rising from 92kg from 95kg, and that’s with two weekend water fasts done (2 days each) in the same 6 week period.
So while my experience is anecdotal for sure, that, combined with a large volume of glowing online testimonials which extol the virtues of this South East Asian herb, not to mention the evidence provided by clinical trials, would suggest there are definite athletic, libido and testosterone boosting effects to be enjoyed by Tongkat Ali.
Recommended Source of Tongkat Ali
Unfortunately, if you live outside of South-East Asia getting hold of good quality Tongkat Ali can be challenging, to say the least.
Unethical online suppliers often ignore quality control, sourcing poor quality Tongkat Ali laced with contaminants like mold, mercury and lead.
Big box brands are no better, with one popular brand’s so-called “Tongkat Ali” found to contain analogues of Sildenafil, the active drug used in most popular ED drugs.
That’s why Lost Empire Herbs are our “go-to” when it comes to Tongkat Ali.
It’s a family owned business ran by three brothers who’ve developed a reputation as a provider of high potency herbal extracts from around the world that increase peak mental and physical performance.
Independent lab studies back up their quality, and they source their Tongkat directly from Malaysian wild trees that are generally 20-30 years old and carefully processed for maximum potential.
So you rest assured you are getting the best possible product that’s out there.
To Sum Up…
For those men with flagging libidos, low testosterone levels, looking to improve their athletic performance or suffering from hypogonadism or those simply suffering the effects of natural aging, Tongkat Ali provides a worthy alternative to the often harsh side effects that go hand in hand with Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and is one of the best biohacking tools for improving male sexual health.