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Ingredient Explained: Tongkat Ali

Ingredient Explained: Tongkat Ali

The supplement roundabout is a very real phenomenon, where compounds that were popular years ago slowly make their way back into the mainstream after a bit of a hiatus -- with Tonkat Ali being a prime example.

But given what it does in the human body, you have to wonder why it ever went away in the first place.

Step 1: What is it?

Togkat Ali (also known as “Eurycoma longifolia” in scientific circles) is a plant found growing in the Malaysian rainforest. 

It has been used for centuries across indonesia in traditional medicine practices to increase erectile strength, treat erectile dysfunction, improve libido, and enhance sexual performance -- which is why it is colloquially known as “Malaysian Viagra.”

However, this is not where its benefits stop.

Step 2: What does it do?

Tongkat Ali is a unique plant that contains several bioactive compounds known as “Quassinoids.” These compounds interact with the body in a number of ways, which can provide several unique benefits.

As I have already alluded to, Tongkat Ali has been shown have a profound effect on libido and sexual function, with studies even suggesting it is a potent treatment for erectile dysfunction [1]. Interestingly, it also appears to increase sperm production and motility, suggesting it may offer a way to improve male fertility [2].

Taking more of a “fitness perspective” on the matter, Tongkat Ali has also been shown to cause an increase in testosterone levels (albeit in older men) [3]. This suggests that it may offer a viable method to prevent age-related declines in testosterone, and may even provide a potent natural testosterone booster in male adults.

Burling on this in more detail, a recent study demonstrated that individuals who supplement with Togkat Ali while undergoing a resistance training program see more muscle growth than those who complete the same program without supplementing with the compound [4]. This suggests that it may also promote increases in muscle growth, making it a potential addition to any mass gaining supplement routine.

Finally, Tongak Ali also appears to have a positive effect on mood and emotional wellbeing. Its supplementation has been shown to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, reduce anger, and increase happiness [5].

While this may not sound like a big deal, there is some evidence to suggest that life stress can negatively impact training adaptations related to strength and size [6]. With this in mind, reducing stress may be a viable way to enhance recovery, and by extension, improve gains.

Step 3: How do I take it?

As with most herbal supplements, there are no clear guidelines regarding the optimal dosage of Tongkat Ali. However, much of the research  discussed in this article used dosages between 200 and 500 mg.

Additionally, there is some evidence suggesting that up to 1200 milligrams per day can be tolerated by humans -- although there is no need to take this much based on the current literature.

As such, we would recommend taking between 300 and 500 mg per day to maximize training outcomes.

Also please note that there is yet to be any research looking at Tongkat Ali supplementation in pregnant or breastfeeding women. As such, it is unclear if it is safe for consumption during pregnancy or while breastfeeding  (and we would suggest avoiding it).

Step 4: What are the top products?

There are a few things we think are important when looking to buy Tongkat Ali.

Firstly, don't get caught out paying too much. We would suggest looking for brands that have minimal advertising (which tends to cost a lot) and only provide scientific evidence to support their use. That is how you get the best value Tongkat Ali on the market.  

Next, make sure the amount of Tongkat Ali is clearly defined on the label. Many supplements use proprietary blends that are ultimately a way for them to provide less of the active ingredient. In line with the recommendations above, you want a supplement that has at least 200mg of Tongkat Ali per serve.

Lastly, have a look at the online reviews for the supplement. If other people have had a good experience, then you probably will as well.


  1. Kotirum, Surachai, Shaiful Bahari Ismail, and Nathorn Chaiyakunapruk. "Efficacy of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) on erectile function improvement: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Complementary therapies in medicine 23.5 (2015): 693-698.
  2. Tambi, Mohd Ismail Bin Mohd, and M. Kamarul Imran. "Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility." Asian journal of andrology 12.3 (2010): 376.
  3. Henkel, Ralf R., et al. "Tongkat Ali as a potential herbal supplement for physically active male and female seniors—a pilot study." Phytotherapy Research 28.4 (2014): 544-550.
  4. Hamzah, S., and A. Yusof. "The ergogenic effects of eurycoma longifolia jack: a pilot study.” Br J Sports Med 37 (2003): 464-470.
  5. Talbott, Shawn M., et al. "Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 1-7.
  6. Bartholomew, John B., et al. "Strength gains after resistance training: the effect of stressful, negative life events." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 22.4 (2008): 1215-1221.
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