A question I am often asked is how to know what's an effective Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) product? If a layman were to look on the internet at all the many fly by night Companies offering Tongkat Ali then you would be led to believe that the highest extraction ratios are the guarantee of the most powerful effects from Tongkat Ali. As such, those companies offering 100:1 and 200:1 extraction ratios must have the most potent Tongkat Ali, is that true?
What about 50:1, 100:1 or 200:1 Tongkat Ali extracts?
Modern herbal medicine is based on the science of phytochemistry not magic, hype or sales gimmicks. Modern science-based herbalists have NOT relied on extraction ratio's as a valid method for evaluating herbal extracts for more than 20 years. This is because extraction ratio's can be wildly exaggerated (as is especially prevalent with Companies offering Tongkat Ali extract) and are completely unverifiable. The only verifiable method to evaluate herbs and herbal extracts is to check for the presence of chemical markers, the herb's fingerprint so to speak. We find most US products claiming to contain Tongkat Ali extract claim the standardization markers of glycosaponins, eurypeptides and polysaccharides, however this is just another form of marketing jargon to fool the layman into being impressed with something that's also unverifiable, and from a quality control perspective so general as to be meaningless. In the case of Tongkat Ali the actual chemical marker is Eurycomanone, the major quassinoid present in the roots of the plant.
Testing Tongkat Ali Powder for Eurycomanone
All current research on Tongkat Ali showsg that Eurycomanone is not only a unique fingerprint to confirm the correct botanical plant, Eurycoma longifolia Jack, but Eurycomanone is also the main active ingredient responsible for many of Tongkat Ali's pharmacological effects, including its effects on enhancing testosterone and spermatogenesis (click here for a recent study). The dry roots of Tongkat Ali can contain varying amounts of Eurycomanone depending on the environment they were growing in but one thing is for certain, they will all contain this ingredient marker. Here is a normal result from testing the level of Eurycomanone in good quality Tongkat Ali root powder and shows a result of 0.25% Eurycomanone in the sample tested. As can be seen here, the highest peak in the HPLC test is the active ingredient Eurycomanone.
High Quality Tongkat Ali Extract is standardized for Eurycomanone
Now that we have identified the correct botanical species and quality by its active marker being present in an acceptable level, next comes extraction to make a "standard" amount of the active ingredients, in particular Eurycomanone, in every dose i.e. capsule. This allows for a high quality, convenient and consistent herbal product. In the process of extraction, specific solvents are used to separate the inert components, cell tissue / plant fibres from the medicinally active phytochemical ingredients. In the case of Tongkat Ali, pure water is a suitable solvent as the active ingredients, including Eurycomanone, are water soluble. In any efficient extraction of Tongkat Ali (after extraction, filtration, concentration and drying) the recovered extract will be around 3%. This means that from 1000 kgs of dry crushed Tongkat Ali root you will be left with approx. 30 kgs of dry powdered Tongkat Ali extract. Thus, in the obsolete language of extraction ratio's this is equal to an approximate 30:1 ratio. Any 1st year chemistry student can achieve this 30:1 extraction ratio in his lab. This then raises the question, where on earth did all these very high Tongkat Ali extraction ratio's of 50:1, 100:1 and the downright ridiculous 200:1 come from? The answer is simple, they came from marketing salespeople. In regards Tongkat Ali extract,any respectable Medical Herbalist or Phytochemist would not mention any extraction ratio greater than 30:1 or 33:1 at the highest. This is why Rainforest Herbs Tongkat Ali Products have been alone in promoting this for the past 12 years. Only batch by batch independent Eurycomanone tests will stop those falsely claiming 100:1 and 200:1 extraction ratios. The following is what a normal HPLC lab analysis for Eurycomanone in Tongkat Ali extract should look like:
Testing Tongkat Ali Extract for Eurycomanone
Here in the Tongkat Ali extract you can observe that the level of Eurycomanone is 2.25% and anything more than 1.75% is considered a concentrated Tongkat Ali extract. Indeed, many outside samples tested of 100:1 and 200:1 extract contain less than 1%. Some samples from China were found to be of an entirely different species altogether with no Eurycomanone present at all.
So in summary, the main active ingredient in Tongkat Ali is Eurycomanone and it's being present at more than 1.75% in your Tongkat Ali extract is the only verifiable way to know you are getting the real thing and you can disregard wild claims (and wild prices) based on extraction ratio's of 100:1 and 200:1. The Eurycomanone research PUBMED links below provide more insight into its physiological effects. I have a strong belief that you will be hearing more about Eurycomanone in the future. It has been found to not only enhance testosterone and improve all parameters of sperm health, but it also reduces the conversion of testosterone to estrogen (one of the causes of middle-aged male andropause and pot belly). Also, it does have a Viagra-like PDE5 inhibiting effect at higher dosages (as some over-zealous bodybuilders taking high dosages of TONEX capsules have found out) and even shows promise in the treatment of certain cancers and for preventing drug-resistant malaria.
Eurycomanone Study References
Click for info:
- Eurycomanone and eurycomanol from Eurycoma longifolia Jack as regulators of signaling pathways involved in proliferation, cell death and inflammation. Hajjouli S Et al. Molecules. 2014 Sep 16
- Anti-angiogenic quassinoid-rich fraction from Eurycoma longifolia modulates endothelial cell function. Al-Salahi OS Et al. Microvasc Res. 2013 Nov
- Effect of eurycomanone on cytochrome P450 isoforms CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2E1 and CYP3A4 in vitro. Pan Y Et al. J Nat Med. 2014 Apr
- Eurycomanone, the major quassinoid in Eurycoma longifolia root extract increases spermatogenesis by inhibiting the activity of phosphodiesterase and aromatase in steroidogenesis.Low BS, Choi SB et al, J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Aug 26
- Standardized quassinoid-rich Eurycoma longifolia extract improved spermatogenesis and fertility in male rats via the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Low BS, Das PK, Chan KL. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Feb 13
- Eurycomanone suppresses expression of lung cancer cell tumor markers, prohibitin, annexin 1 and endoplasmic reticulum protein Wong PF et al. 28. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jan 15
- Physico-chemical effects of the major quassinoids in a standardized Eurycoma longifolia extract (Fr 2) on the bioavailability and pharmacokinetic properties, and their implications for oral antimalarial activity. Low BS, Teh CH, Yuen KH, Chan KL. Nat Prod Commun. 2011 Mar
- Comparative X-ray and conformational analysis of a new crystal of 13?,21-dihydroeurycomanone with eurycomanone from Eurycoma longifolia and their anti-estrogenic activity using the uterotrophic assay. Teh CH et al, Planta Med. 2011 Jan
- The effect of Eurycoma longifolia on sperm quality of male rats. Chan KL, Low BS, Teh CH, Das PK. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Oct
- Bioavailability and pharmacokinetic studies of eurycomanone from Eurycoma longifolia. Low BS, Ng BH, Choy WP, Yuen KH, Chan KL. Planta Med. 2005 Sep;71(9):803-7.
- High performance liquid chromatography in phytochemical analysis of Eurycoma longifolia. Chan KL, Choo CY, Morita H, Itokawa H. Planta Med. 1998 Dec;64(8):741-5.