Tongkat ali, or sometimes referred to as "longjack" or "pasak bumi", is a prized male tonic particularly famous for its potential libido enhancing influence.
The longjack species, Eurycoma longifolia, is a small exotic shrub-like tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and regions of Indonesia. It is the long deep roots of the plant that have been utilized in traditional folk remedies and now in modern-day powdered extracts for their potent therapeutic value.
Sometimes referred to as "Malaysian ginseng" or "Malaysian Viagra", it is most popular for use as an aphrodisiac to enhance sexual functions, particularly for middle-aged men experiencing andropause. This is a life phase that is defined by age-related libido decline attributed to lower testosterone levels and its associated symptoms such as reduced physical energy, mental fatigue as well as an increase in body fat.
Tongkat or longjack is, in fact, considered a top male sex tonic and adaptogen often compared above others including cistanche, he shou wu, ginseng, pine pollen, tribulus and cordyceps. When used in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, quality extracts can be a worthy plant-based dietary supplement to experiment with for the management of andropause symptoms.
Tongkat is found in some research to support a healthy sex drive due
to its group of peptides called "eurypeptides." In addition, one earlier
study on rats, the unique alkaloid compound 9-hydroxycanthin-6-one was shown to "induce erection and delay ejaculation." (*)
Other double-blind human research on men between 30-55 years of age, identified that males who were given a daily dose of 300 mg extract of E. longifolia experienced higher scores with overall erectile function, libido, sperm motility, semen quantity as well as a reduction in "fat mass."
In yet another double-blind study, on men between the age of 40 to 65, a proprietary freeze-dried water extract of longjack and Polygonum minus, demonstrated that it "significantly improved sexual performance" after 12 weeks compared to a placebo.
As an adaptogen, it is also found to have a stress-relieving impact. In one study entitled "Effect of Tongkat Ali on Stress Hormones and Psychological Mood State in Moderately Stressed Subjects", the longjack root extract was shown to have a positive effect on stress hormones, mood and a probable protective influence against chronic daily life stress.
The roots of Eurycoma longifolia don't necessarily stimulate or boost testosterone production, but rather work to maintain normal hormone levels which, again, can be potentially helpful to middle-aged men around 50 and older.
It has been demonstrated to improve the release of what is referred to as "free" testosterone from its sex-hormone-binding-globulin, otherwise known as SHBG. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, free T-hormone as well as albumin-bound testosterone are both recognized to be a bioavailable form that is easily utilized by the body. (*)
Usually prepared as a highly concentrated herbal supplement, just a little of tongkat is known to go a long way as far as effectiveness. This is of course however, largely dependent, on one's current state of health and unique constitution.
In one study, seventy-six men with late-onset hypogonadism, a condition which inhibits the production of male testosterone, it was evidenced that tongkat supplementation after a one month period significantly improved "AMS [aging male symptoms] score as well as serum testosterone concentration." This was using an extract dose of only 200 mg/day.
It is important when purchasing tongkat ali extracts that you get them from reliable quality sources, preferably one's that test for heavy metal contamination. Unfortunately, there are many "counterfeit" longjack products and formulas taking advantage of the "male libido enhancing" supplement market.
Some low-quality brands have been found to be tainted with added ingredients, even synthetic drugs, while others don't contain the actual Eurycoma longifolia species.
It is also important to keep in mind that the roots of tongkat ali need
to be prepared appropriately by concentrating a large amount of plant material in
order to make them effective. This is commonly achieved by using hot water methods that condensed anywhere from 100-200 pounds of roots to make one pound of condensed extract powder. This is why you may see advertised ratios like 100:1 or 125:1 on product labels.
Lost Empire Herbs - As of 2018, offers a 100:1 powdered and encapsulated extract of wild Eurycoma longifolia roots. They include a 100 mg spoon with each bulk powder so dose level can be regulated accordingly. It is standardized to 34.91% glycosaponins and 54.31% eurypeptides.
Dragon Herbs Tomkat - This is a proprietary formulation that includes a blend of three ingredients, 80% sumatran tongkat ali (125:1 extract), 10% he shou wu and 10% changbai mountain ant powder (rich in zinc). Available in 250 mg capsule form, which if you do the math would be approximately 200 mg tongkat.
Longjack is typically sold as a bulk extract powder, capsules or tablets.
Because powders have a very unpalatable bitter taste they are not suitable for use in blended drinks or elixirs but rather best consumed straight. You can simply mix the extract powder into water and consume, or use tablets or capsules for convenience.
Although many often experience the effects of tongkat ali immediately after 1-2 hours, for optimal therapeutic value as a tonic herb long-term use is considered most beneficial.
Like other hormone-influencing tonics, it is often best to use it in cycles so the body doesn't build up a
tolerance. It is often recommended to take 2 days off after every 5 days of use.
The best way to find out if it is suitable for your own unique conditions as well as body chemistry, is to try it for yourself. In some instances, it may also be appropriate to consume tongkat ali in a formula, like Tomkat, rather than as an individual extract.
Usually between a 100-200 mg daily dose is considered to be most effective. It is always best to experiment however with what works best for your individual constitution.