Tongkat Ali, also known colloquially as “Longjack” is also known by its botanical name Eurycoma Longifolia. It has also earned the title of “Malaysian ginseng.” Like Rhodiola and other “false ginsengs” it is not actually a ginseng plant but is called such because it shares many of the same adaptogenic and nootropic properties as Panax ginseng. Tongkat Ali has been a popular folk medicine in Southeast Asia for centuries. Most recently it has grown in popularity as an adaptogen, aphrodisiac and testosterone booster. Tongkat Ali helps the body produce more testosterone, but as an adaptogen, it also has the ability to improve hormonal balance. In addition, it has become popular with body builders for the energy and testosterone boost, but also because it can improve the body’s ability to build lean muscle and improving overall muscle strength.
Tongkat Ali is also available as plant powder in extract form or in capsules. It is considered safe for consumption and used by men around the world to improve their testosterone production and overall hormonal health. Longjack is grown primarily in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Though it’s a popular herb for men seeking to build muscle, enhance their love life and libido or improve their testosterone production, it also has health benefits for women.
The aphrodisiac properties of Eurycoma seem to span a large number of animal models. In the case of female rats, however, there is only limited evidence of it working as well as for males. According to Examine.com, comparative analysis between herbal aphrodisiacs is a tricky task, but all in all, Longjack, anecdotally anyway, seems to be one of the more reliable and potent choices available.
Mechanism of Action
Eurycoma Longifolia (Longjack) has been shown to stimulate the pituitary glands. The pituitary glands are vital to the endocrinal system. The pituitary gland is to the endocrinal system very similar to what the brain is to the nervous system. Unlike many aphrodisiacs, whether plant-based or synthetic, Longjack appears to be effective in both men and women. It seems to be a natural hormone booster that has effects that will promote libido and vigor. Currently though there is research suggesting this, more studies will need to be done before we’re entirely certain of how it works as an aphrodisiac.
Like many other plant based aphrodisiacs, Tongkat Ali has the potential of increasing sperm production and may result in greater sperm count. This may be another mechanism for it’s “proerectile” potential. One constituent of the plant is the molecule (9-hydroxycanthin-6-one) which may improve performance, though whether or not this molecule is active when consumed orally (whether extract or plant matter) is still uncertain.
Eurycoma Longifolia Jack, or Tongkat Ali, is also known for its anti-estrogenic effects and is comparable to the pharmaceutical Tamoxifen as far as efficacy, but this is only when the active ingredient is applied via injection. More studies are necessary to prove the efficacy of oral Longjack consumption. There are studies that strongly suggest the effectiveness on testosterone, but currently there is a lack of peer-reviewed studies on the subject.
Some studies suggest that Tongkat Ali may enhance testosterone production in males. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It’s also thought to improve both sperm count and motility. Anecdotally there are reports of enhanced mood and overall well-being. It’s adaptogenic properties of hormone balancing may reduce some adrenal related issues that are implicated in certain sorts of anxiety. Tongkat Ali is most effective as a body building supplement when taken around 30 minutes before workout. In addition to the hormonal balancing through its adaptogenic properties, Longjack seems to have a positive effect on high levels of cortisol (the adrenal related “fight of flight” chemical). Cortisol is neurotoxic and deleterious to the body and brain. In addition to the adaptogenic properties, it seems to have a positive effect on the brain’s production of serotonin which is vital to perception and mood. Imbalances in serotonin have been associated with certain types of depression.
For males and females, the adaptogenic and hormone balancing properties of Tongkat Ali may enhance overall health and wellness. Hormonal imbalances can have a whole host of issues trail behind them. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight are more difficult when the stress and hormones cause the body and brain to be imbalanced. Tongkat Ali also improves vigor and energy levels for both sexes, not to mention increased testosterone can be improve libidos in both males and females. Women with abnormally low testosterone also have greater potential to develop osteoporosis so there’s a chance that tongkat ali can assist with skeletal health for both men and women as well. Some even claim it may be helpful for women experiencing PMS symptoms.
Possible Tongkat Ali Side effects
Most any supplement or drug you can take has potential side effects and Tongkat Ali is no different. As with most any supplement or drug, whether herbal or synthetic, taking it in the recommended range may reduce the potential of side effects while using more than is suggested generally increases the likelihood and severity of possible side effects without any increase in benefits.
Since Tongkat Ali can be energizing it can possibly cause insomnia. As a result, stick with the recommended dosage and take it early in the day. Always start slow, towards the bottom of the therapeutic window and adjust your dosage accordingly afterwards. As with many supplements, the effects may build up over time. If you feel overstimulated by Tongkat Ali, take a break and allow some of it to flush from your system.
Some users of Longjack have noted that their subjective levels of stress were improved. In otherwise healthy males, supplementation was anecdotally associated with improved well-being. The mechanism behind Tongkat’s weight loss potential is still not understood and it appears decreased weight was noted in overweight and obese men but not men of normal weight. More studies will be needed to fully understand why this is. In addition to all this, Tongkat Ali seems to have a profertility effect and testicular protective effects. There is moderate evidence of Longjack’s pro-testosterone effects. Some infertile men experienced increase in testosterone. The preservation of testosterone levels may be due to the adaptogenic effect of Longjack. Stress can kill sex drive and wreak havoc on the hormonal system. The evidence for Longjack’s effect on testosterone haven’t yet been proven in otherwise healthy and unanxious men.
Overuse and excessive consumption of Tongkat Ali has been associated with some cases of agitation. This sort of overuse and agitation may manifest in aggression and anxiety. If you experience any symptoms like these discontinue use immediately.
Tongkat Ali is available in multiple strengths such as 1:50, 1:100 and 1:200. These standardized extract strengths refer to how potent the extract is. 1:100 is the most recommended dosage for men, while women may prefer 1:50 strength. Remember that adaptogens may take some time to build up so you may experience the best results after regularly taking it for about a week. Due to the potential build-up however it’s best to cycle off occasionally. A schedule of 5 days on and 2 days off, for instance, might be better than taking it daily without breaks. The taste of Tongkat Ali and it’s primary constituents are quite bitter, if this is an issue, capsules may be the best bet.
The standard dosage of Lonjack is 200-300mg for a 100:1 extract (standardized for content of eurycomamone, the primary active constituent). 200-300mg of 100:1 extract should be as effective as 20-30g of dried root material or powdered plant matter. The dose can be taken once or twice in a day, but it may be best to skip a second dose if you find it overly energizing.
Always supplement safely. This means doing your due diligence and checking out exactly how the supplement works and making sure it doesn’t pose any interaction risks with any other supplements or pharmaceutical drugs you may be taking. Always consult with your personal care practitioner before embarking on any supplement regimen, this is especially important if you’re currently under a doctor’s care for any pre-existing condition or take over-the-counter or pharmaceutical drugs.