Many aging men experience reductions in testosterone and other hormones, a condition known as andropause. Symptoms of andropause may include reduced sexual response, lack of energy, increased body fat, and mental lethargy. Andropause can be a struggle for many men; it’s frustrating when your body just doesn’t do what it used to. Although testosterone replacement therapy is available, it can have serious side effects and come with great cost. Many men have instead looked to natural, herbal therapies.
Eurycoma longifolia, also known as Malaysian ginseng or tongkat ali, is a therapeutic herb native to the Malaysian rain forests. Like many other exotic plants, tongkat ali is popular in traditional medicine. Its primary use has been to promote healthy libido and support normal hormone levels in males.
Tongkat Ali and Testosterone
Traditionally, tongkat ali root was used as an aphrodisiac and remedy for age-related sexual disorders and symptoms of andropause. The root contains compounds that have repeatedly been shown in animal studies to stimulate libido, promote semen quality, and even support muscle growth.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5] These effects have largely been attributed to increases in testosterone.
In 2012, a study that consisted of seventy-six men, only 35% of whom had normal testosterone levels, was orchestrated. It was reported that after one month of supplementing with tongkat ali, the number of men in the group with normal testosterone levels jumped to over 90%.
A separate double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that men who consumed tongkat ali on a daily basis experienced improvements in erectile function, libido, and semen volume. Some even experienced fat loss.
Tongkat Ali and Male Fertility
Although not everyone who supplements with tongkat ali wants to increase their fertility, it is worth mentioning that tongkat ali’s hormone support benefits also promotes normal sperm quality. Sperm quality, measured by volume, concentration, and motility, can impact male fertility.
In one study, seventy-five men who consumed tongkat ali every day were observed to experience significant improvements in sperm quality, improvements that lasted for months after the initial study. Almost 15% of the participants even reported new pregnancies.
Supplementing with Tongkat Ali
Before you supplement with tongkat ali, there are a few things you need to consider. First, you need to ensure you’re purchasing the real thing. The marketplace for sexual support products has attracted questionable retailers and many counterfeit “formulas” are available on the internet. Don’t get scammed.
Additionally, in 2006, Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority tested 100 products containing tongkat ali and found that 26% contained insane levels of mercury. I cannot stress enough — only purchase from quality merchants who have a long-standing reputation for delivering quality products.
That said, if you’re a middle-aged male who is experiencing the symptoms of andropause and feel it’s time to put a spring back into your step, consider supplementing with tongkat ali. The research is positive and does not indicate any negative side effects. If you combine herbal support with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you may have a winning formula.
- Ang HH, Lee KL, Kiyoshi M. Eurycoma longifolia Jack enhances sexual motivation in middle-aged male mice. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2003;14(3):301-8.
- Ang HH, Sim MK. Eurycoma longifolia Jack enhances libido in sexually experienced male rats. Exp Anim. 1997 Oct;46(4):287-90.
- Ang HH, Ngai TH, Tan TH. Effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack on sexual qualities in middle aged male rats. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(6-7):590-3.
- Frydrychová S, Opletal L, Macáková K, Lustyková A, Rozkot M, Lipenský J. Effects of herbal preparation on libido and semen quality in boars. Reprod Domest Anim. 2011 Aug;46(4):573-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0531.2010.01703.x. Epub 2010 Nov 23.
- Ang HH, Cheang HS. Effects of Eurycoma longifolia jack on laevator ani muscle in both uncastrated and testosterone-stimulated castrated intact male rats. Arch Pharm Res. 2001 Oct;24(5):437-40.
- Zanoli P, Zavatti M, Montanari C, Baraldi M. Influence of Eurycoma longifolia on the copulatory activity of sexually sluggish and impotent male rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Nov 12;126(2):308-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.08.021. Epub 2009 Aug 22.
- Tambi MI, Imran MK, Henkel RR. Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism? Andrologia. 2012 May;44 Suppl 1:226-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2011.01168.x. Epub 2011 Jun 15.
- Ismail SB, Wan Mohammad WM, George A, Nik Hussain NH, Musthapa Kamal ZM, Liske E. Randomized Clinical Trial on the Use of PHYSTA Freeze-Dried Water Extract of Eurycoma longifolia for the Improvement of Quality of Life and Sexual Well-Being in Men. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:429268. doi: 10.1155/2012/429268. Epub 2012 Nov 1.
- Chan KL, Low BS, Teh CH, Das PK. The effect of Eurycoma longifolia on sperm quality of male rats. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Oct;4(10):1331-6.
- Tambi MI, Imran MK. Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility. Asian J Androl. 2010 May;12(3):376-80. doi: 10.1038/aja.2010.7. Epub 2010 Mar 29.
- G Jackson, S Arver, I Banks, and V J Stecher. Counterfeit phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors pose significant safety risks. Int J Clin Pract. 2010 March; 64(4): 497–504.
- Ang HH, Lee KL. Contamination of mercury in tongkat Ali hitam herbal preparations. Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Aug;44(8):1245-50. Epub 2006 Mar 29.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.