Tongkat ali is a traditional Asian remedy for male sexual performance. Advocates of traditional medicine also use this plant to help relieve other ailments and health issues.
There has been promising research into tongkat ali’s properties. However, people should be cautious about trying it if they have certain health conditions or are taking specific medications.
Keep reading to learn more about tongkat ali’s traditional uses and what the scientific evidence says about its potential benefits and side effects.
Eurycoma longifolia, or tongkat ali, is a shrubby tree
Tongkat ali literally means “Ali’s walking stick,” which makes reference to its aphrodisiac effects. Some people say that the “stick” refers to the plant’s long, twisted roots that some groups harvest for their medicinal value.
Other common names for E. longifolia are Long Jack, Malaysian ginseng, and Ali’s Umbrella.
There are, in fact, three other plant species that people may refer to as tongkat ali. These are Entomophthora apiculata, Polyalthia bullata, and Goniothalamus.
This article, however, will focus on E. longifolia.
In Asia, E. longifolia is a well-known aphrodisiac and malaria remedy. People tend to use the roots, bark, and fruits of the flowering plant to make remedies.
According to a
- sexual dysfunction
- high blood pressure
- intestinal worms
- exercise recovery
- aches and pains
The same review concluded that E. longifolia is a promising herbal remedy for some conditions. However, there is insufficient evidence regarding its safety and efficacy.
People also use the plant roots to stimulate appetite and increase strength and energy. Others use them as an antibiotic.
Traditionally, people drank a water decoction of the plant. Nowadays, though, there are many E. longifolia products available, including powders and capsules.
The plant contains many bioactive compounds, including alkaloids and steroids. Quassinoids are the major active compound in the roots.
Herbalists regard the plant as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is an herb that helps the body adapt to different kinds of stress, including physical, chemical, and biological stress.
Tongkat ali may have health benefits for certain conditions. The following sections will look at some of these conditions in more detail.
Male fertility and sexual performance
Some research indicates that E. longifolia may enhance male fertility and sexual performance.
According to a
- increased semen volumes, sperm count, sperm viability, and sperm motility
- increased production of testosterone
- enhanced erectile function and sexual performance
Athletes sometimes use ergogenic aids to enhance their performance. E. longifolia may act as an ergogenic aid because it decreases stress and increases testosterone levels, according to one
The researchers concluded that with high dosages and long-term supplementation, E. longifolia might have some benefit in relation to endurance performance.
However, there could still be potential for its use in preventing bone loss, according to the review.
A study in the
The researchers saw significant improvements in anger, tension, and confusion in people taking the extract. Testosterone levels increased, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased.
They concluded that tongkat ali might be an effective remedy for modern-day chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and exercise training.
Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects
In test tube studies, extracts of the plant showed anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The same review concluded that scientists consider E. longifolia safe as long as people do not take it in high doses. The authors recommend taking
People who have hormonal cancers should be cautious of taking E. longifolia, as it may increase testosterone levels. Although laboratory studies have indicated beneficial effects, these effects may not be the same in the human body.
People taking medications to lower their blood glucose should speak to their doctor before taking E. longifolia, as it may increase the effects of these medications.
According to the review, some sources advise people with certain conditions to avoid E. longifolia. These conditions include cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease. People with weakened immune systems should also be cautious.
Tongkat ali seems to be a promising remedy for several health issues. Some research suggests that it is beneficial for male fertility, sexual performance, and stress. It might also be an effective ergogenic aid.
Some laboratory studies indicate the effectiveness of E. longifolia against cancer in test tubes. However, research also suggests that people with certain cancers should avoid using it.
There are some safety issues for people who have certain health conditions and those who are taking specific medications. Therefore, a person should check with their doctor before taking any herbal supplements.