Australian Medical Herbalist Ben Drewe was the first in the world to research and develop Tongkat Ali into modern herbal products and he has more than 20 years experience in Tongkat Ali research and development, as well as prescribing it to his many thousands of clients and customers around the world. Ben's Tongkat Ali products are sold in all major pharmacies in Malaysia since 1998 as well as major multinational retail chains and supermarkets. When buying Tongkat Ali always check to see whether the Tongkat Ali products you are buying are sold in the retail market in their respective country or whether they are only available online as there are huge quality differences between these two. Watch out that you're not buying from only online sellers as these products will always be sold with excessive hype and fraudulent claims! Even worse, many of these online companies operate outside the Ministry of Health and may adulterate their products with chemical ingredients. This is especially true with Tongkat Ali products coming from Indonesia and Thailand, as few of these are approved by the Ministry of Health or sold in their own countries retail market.
Does Tongkat Ali really work, and if so, how?
Ben Drewe: Yes it most certainly does and how it works is most interesting. In a nutshell, Tongkat Ali reduces the effects of aging on the male reproductive system by increasing your body's free testosterone availability via several mechanisms including stimulating the secretion of Luteinzing Hormones (LH) which in turn stimulates the Leydig cells of your testicles to produce testosterone.
With ageing testosterone becomes bound to serum globulin and is not available to the cell receptor sites where it is needed to initiate sex-stimulating centers in the brain. The component in the blood that renders free testosterone inactive is called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Excess estrogen can increase the production of SHBG and block testosterone-receptor sites. Estrogen levels of the average 54-year-old man are often higher than those of the average 59-year-old woman. While some estrogen is a necessary hormone for men, too much contributes to a wide range of health, weight gain and libido problems. Due to similarities in chemical structure, high serum levels of estrogen also trick the brain into thinking that enough testosterone is being produced, thereby slowing the natural production of testosterone. For testosterone to produce its positive health enhancing effects, it must be kept in the free form in the bloodstream. Bound testosterone is unable to be picked up by testosterone receptors on cell membranes. For aging men, it is desirable to suppress excess levels of SHBG and estrogen while boosting free testosterone to the level of a young man. Tongkat Ali is a natural way of boosting bioavailable testosterone while also reducing SHBG and estrogen levels in aging men.
In studies under the Malaysian National Biotechnology Directorate coordination between research teams from Malaysia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the following actions of Tongkat Ali on male health have been stated from their research:
These combined effects position Tongkat Ali as the safest and most effective herbal testosterone enhancing medicinal plant available. It is particularly suitable for slowing down the effects of male "andropause" that occurs in middle-age and is of benefit for athletes and bodybuilders looking for a natural supplement without side-effects.
What dosage should I take to obtain the best results with Tongkat Ali?
Ben Drewe: While I cannot speak for other products as each may be using their own production methods, through our trials with patients and customers over the past 15 years we have developed products that can be taken both on a daily basis or the high strength TONEX Tongkat Ali that should be cycled over shorter periods when a stronger effect is required. Tongkat Ali should always be taken after meals.
The following are our range of Tongkat Ali capsule products:
1. TONEX High Potency Tongkat Ali Extract capsules. This is our most concentrated formula using our highest potency proprietary water soluble extract at a dosage of 300 mg per capsule of pure standardized extract. This product is available nationwide through Malaysian pharmacies. Recommended dosage is 2 capsules in the morning. This can be followed by 1 capsule in the evening if required. Take for 3 weeks then rest one week. TAKE THIS WHEN A STRONGER TESTOSTERONE SUPPORT IS REQUIRED AS FOR MEN OVER 40 YEARS OF AGE, AND FOR BODYBUILDERS AND SPORTSMEN LOOKING FOR NATURAL GAINS IN MUSCLE GROWTH, CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.
2. E-P Tongkat Ali capsules. This product comes in an attractive gift box containing 12 individual packs of 10 capsules each = 120 capsules in total. Each capsule (470mg) contains pure Tongkat Ali root powder and as such has not been changed in any way nor has anything been added. Recommended dosage is 2 capsules twice daily. This product is the preferred product for those taking Tongkat Ali for daily use. This product may also be taken by both men and women for improving energy and enhancing sports performance. E-P Tongkat Ali capsules is JAKIM Halal certified.
3. Tongkat Ali Plus capsules. This product contains 160 mg of Tongkat Ali water soluble extract per capsule, in combination with 3 additional herbal extracts, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), Tinospora cordifolia and Licorice (Glycerrhiza glabra). This powerful synergistic formulation is based on the principles of supporting all the hormonal systems that decline in middle age, namely; adrenal / stress hormone support, androgen levels and reduce insulin resistance (pre-diabetes). It is recommended in dosages of 1-2 capsules twice daily. Comes in a box of 30 capsules or bottle of 60 capsules. Safe for daily use. TAKE THIS WHEN STRESS AND EXHAUSTION ARE A MAJOR ISSUE, CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.
If Tongkat Ali increases my testosterone, won't that make me aggressive?
Ben Drewe: Tongkat Ali often reduces aggressiveness and promotes a sense of calm and confidence. This anxiety relieving effect was also demonstrated in animal studies in that the test rats exhibited a reduced tendency to fight and performed better (improved motor skills) in tests designed to create stress and anxiety. Tongkat Ali does not contain any testosterone in itself as it acts only as a precursor to prompt the body to supply more of its own testosterone and this also includes improving the useable “good” testosterone. Conversely certain body builders who inject large doses of synthetic testosterone hormone actually reduce their own bodies production and may experience increased aggression as well as hair loss, reduction in testicular size, outbreaks of acne and heart problems amongst others.
Does Tongkat Ali have any side effects?
Ben Drewe: Our Tongkat Ali products, taken at their recommended dosage are very well tolerated and safe. One may experience a slight sense of increased metabolic body heat (thermogenesis) after taking Tongkat Ali and it is recommended to increase water intake. In my experience each individual responds slightly differently, so the product dosage that works for you may be different for another. High dosages may give more dramatic effects on libido within a shorter time frame of around 1-2 days, while lower dosages may take 1 week or more to notice the effect. Please see the column to the right for more information on the LD50 of Eurycoma longifolia.
Can I just boil the root and drink as a herbal tea?
Ben Drewe: Certainly you may, however the herb is very bitter so most people cannot consume it this way regularly. The bitter taste will also increase appetite and may lower blood sugar, so it is best drunk only after food.
Can Tongkat Ali be taken by women?
Ben Drewe: Yes, I have observed that it is quite common that women in Borneo prepare Tongkat Ali when they require energy in times of convalescence. Scientific research on women consuming Tongkat Ali is now being conducted and the results have been encouraging, such as enhanced libido and energy. Physiologically a woman’s libido is also dependent on the presence of testosterone and women are more sensitive to testosterone than men and even a slight increase can have marked improvements in sexual arousal and physical performance. Tongkat Ali is also suitable in menopausal women as it helps maintain progesterone production from the ovaries and adrenal glands. The ability of Tongkat Ali to enhance testosterone in both men and women is always within physiological normal limits and thus it is increasingly being seen as a safe and natural performance supplement for sportspeople. The latest information is that Chinese sports scientists have found Tongkat Ali a benefit in their female Olympic athletes as the increase in testosterone is within natural limits and therefore completely legal in competition.
I have heard that Tongkat Ali can be high in lead content, is this true?
Ben Drewe: No, this is not true. Tongkat Ali contains no lead. Lead found in herbal products is the result of soil contamination on the herbs surface. Lead finds its way into the soil mainly as a result of leaded petrol exhaust contamination and heavy industry. Farms in industrialized areas have a higher lead contamination; areas far from industry such as the rain forest have negligible levels. All root herb or vegetables must be thoroughly cleansed of surface soil after collection. All batches of health products manufactured under GMP standards (Malaysia strictly enforces GMP) must undergo a heavy metal test (Atomic Absorption Spectrometry) to determine whether lead and other heavy metals are present. Generally, well-prepared extracts are a further protection from any soil borne lead or microbial contamination. The vegetables we consume on a daily basis from commercial farms are seldom, if ever, tested for heavy metals and the contamination may exceed the allowed limit for food products.
Are there any difference between Malaysian and Indonesian Tongkat Ali?
Ben Drewe: No, there no differences in regards efficacy between the two medicinal plants, only major differences between the dosage and extraction technology used by different companies. While there are minor differences in plant chemistry for Tongkat Ali plants found in the Southeast Asian region, these occur as a result of differences in soil composition, weather and so on. Thus plants collected from areas that are just a few kilometers away can have subtle differences when tested by HPLC. Tongkat Ali is primarily found in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo (comprising Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei) and in northern Sumatra, principally in Aceh. Tongkat Ali is not found in Java. The roots of Tongkat Ali were principally used in Traditional Malay herbal medicine and until recently were seldom used in Indonesia. Thus the knowledge and experience of using Tongkat Ali for male sexual function comes from centuries of experience from Malay herbalists and the native races of Malaysia. Malaysia, via various Government agencies is at the forefront of all research and development of this important herb, whereas Indonesia has contributed little to the body of knowledge on this herb and has mainly internet companies resorting to selling the herb via gimmicks of 200:1 ratio's and so on.
Is Tongkat Ali a controlled species in Malaysia?
Ben Drewe: To ensure sustainable collection, the Malaysian Government issues permits to those who can collect Tongkat Ali, which is primarily the indigenous races living around the jungle. This is a great thing as they are the ones who have shared their traditional botanical wisdom with us and deserve to have a protected income from this. There is no permits required for anything else to do with the herb e.g. processing, exporting etc and the herb is not on the CITES listing.
Do you consume Tongkat Ali yourself?
Ben Drewe: Of course! I have been regularly taking Tongkat Ali for more than 20 years and I'm happy to say that at 50 years of age I still have the energy to do the same sports I have enjoyed from my youth, such as swimming, surfing, martial arts, gym and jungle trekking. I guess the best proof is that Tongkat Ali has helped me maintain the same waist size and minimal body fat for the past 15 years (consuming a Paleo Diet and Virgin Coconut Oil every day certainly helps also!).
Is there such a thing as a 200:1 Tongkat Ali Extract?
Ben Drewe: No, the story about 200:1 Tongkat Ali extract is only a marketing gimmick.
Tongkat Ali extract must be tested for it's Eurycomanone content and not for the outdated "ratio method" that is completely unverifiable and unprofessional. Ask any phytochemist who has extracted Tongkat Ali and they will tell you that a 30:1 concentration extract is the maximum ratio of herb to extract that is obtainable from Tongkat Ali after which you would need to be selectively separating its individual components. It's unfortunate but those claiming to have Tongkat Ali extraction ratios of 50:1, 100:1, and the even more absurd 200:1 are false and make this erroneous claim to cheat you. An Indonesian marketing company started this off several years ago and most companies (except for Rainforest Herbs) has felt it was necessary to perpetuate the outlandish claim in order to be competitive. Amazingly, even Chinese extraction companies are selling Tongkat Ali 200:1 extract at such cheap prices that we in Malaysia could not even purchase the herb from our native suppliers at that price. These China companies are not using Tongkat Ali in their extracts. Anyone claiming to use a 200:1 Tongkat Ali extract reveal that they are not scientifically trained healthcare professionals or they would never make these assertions. Conspicuously absent from all these companies is any mention of studies on the active ingredient marker in Tongkat Ali, Eurycomanone.
Assay for glycosaponins is a standard in phytochemistry especially for products that elicit an effect on the male reproductive system. For example the majority of known active ingredients in Korean Ginseng are also glycosaponins. Eurycomanone is a prominent bioactive quassinoid present in Tongkat Ali that is used as a marker and should be present in approx. 2% in the highest concentration extracts. Eurycomanone has also been shown to be effective as an anti-cancer and antimalarial agent. Do not be dismayed by the quasi-scientific jargon given by some companies, with terms such as Eurypeptides etc. etc. as these are imaginative marketing speak for those who do not want you to have a standard that can be qualified or quantified independently. Finally, remember that when you purchase a product from a Company claiming a 200:1 extract then you are likely buying a China extract that may not contain any Tongkat Ali extract at all.
Latest Published Scientific Studies on Tongkat Ali
June 15, 2011- Andrologia.
Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism
In most countries, millions of people are relying on herbal medicines as remedy for numerous ailments. In South-East Asia, Eurycoma longifolia Jack, also known as Malaysian ginseng or Tongkat ali, is used to combat stress and disease and to improve physical strength. Moreover, the compounds of the roots of this plant are reported to have aphrodisiac and testosterone enhancing effects in the rat. Considering that human studies are not available, 76 of 320 patients suffering from late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) were given 200mg of a standardised water-soluble extract of Tongkat ali for 1month.
The Aging Males Symptoms (AMS) according to the standardised rating scale and the serum testosterone concentration were taken.
Results show that treatment of LOH patients with this Tongkat ali extract significantly improved the AMS score as well as the serum testosterone concentration. While before treatment only 10.5% of the patients did not show any complaint according to the AMS scale and 35.5% had normal testosterone levels, after the completed treatment 71.7% and 90.8% of the patients showed normal values, respectively. Thus, Tongkat ali extract appears to be useful as a supplement in overcoming the symptoms of LOH and for the management of hypogonadism.
12 May 2010 - Asian Journal of Andrology
Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility.
Tambi MI, Imran MK.
This study investigated the effect of treatment with the proprietary standardized, water-soluble extract of the root of the Malaysian plant, Eurycoma longifolia Jack, which is thought to enhance male fertility with regard to higher semen volumes, sperm concentrations, the percentage of normal sperm morphology and sperm motility in male partners of sub-fertile couples with idiopathic infertility. A total of 350 patients were given 200 mg of the extract daily and follow-up semen analyses were performed every 3 months for 9 months. Of these 350 patients, 75 patients completed one full cycle of 3 months. Follow-up semen analyses in these patients showed significant improvement in all semen parameters. The proprietary extract of Eurycoma longifolia Jack significantly improved the sperm quality in these patients, allowing for 11 (14.7%) spontaneous pregnancies.
Yellow, Red and Black Tongkat Ali are all unrelated medicinal plants that share a similar common name in some regions of Malaysia. The name Tongkat Ali is most commonly in reference to Tongkat Ali (yellow) or Eurycoma longifolia, of the family: Simaroubaceae. The other medicinal roots that share this common name are:
Each of these herbs is used in Malaysian traditional medicine for energy and sexual dysfunction.
Yellow Tongkat Ali Root Slices
Red Tongkat Ali Root Slices
Black Tongkat Ali Root Slices
Size differences between yellow, black and red Tongkat Ali slices
Safety Studies performed on Eurycoma longifolia
An acute toxicity study done by Satayavivad et al. has found that the oral Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) of the alcoholic extract of Eurycoma longifolia in mice is between 1500–2000 mg/kg, while the oral LD50 of the aqueous extract form is more than 3000mg/kg. Toxicity of Eurycoma longifolia was further tested by Shuid et al. in their acute toxicity study, where a dose of 5000 mg/kg of Eurycoma longifolia extract was given orally to rats within 24 hours. It was found that the LD50 for aqueous extract of EL was more than 5000 mg/kg. The equivalent LD50 for Eurycoma longifolia is extrapolated to be 810 mg/kg in an adult man. In another subacute toxicity study, Eurycoma longifolia extract at the doses of 600, 1200, and 2400 mg/kg were given to rats, respectively, for 28 days. Pathological changes in the liver were seen in two rats, each from the group treated with 1200 and 2400mg/kg. Clinical study in humans done by Tambi has found that a dose up to 600 mg/kg did not cause any adverse effects. Eurycoma longifolia is considered safe as long as it is not taken in very high dosages as used here.