The Malaysian population has been using extracts from the roots of the Eurycoma longifolia shrub [which you may know by the name of Tongkat Ali] for centuries as an adaptogen and libido enhancer. And with reason, write Malaysian researchers in Andrologia. Supplementation using Tongkat Ali normalises testosterone levels in men who produce too little of the hormone.
Tongkat Ali is the most studied plant-based testosterone booster. Several dozens of studies have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which suggest that Tongkat Ali enhances libido, sperm production and testosterone levels in lab animals. In a couple of animal studies Tongkat Ali has even been shown to boost muscle mass too.
But we still don’t know exactly how Tongkat Ali works, even though bio-organic chemists do now have a good idea of the potentially bioactive components of the substance. A couple of the important ones are illustrated below.
Little research has been done on the effect of Tongkat Ali on humans. Seven years ago there was a study around, funded by a manufacturer of Tongkat Ali extracts, which showed that it boosted testosterone levels in endurance athletes during a race – but the study has never been published.
That’s why our interest was piqued by the study that researchers at the Damai Service Hospital in Kuala Lumpur published in Andrologia in 2012. In this study 76 men with low testosterone levels in their blood were given 200 mg Tongkat Ali extract every day for a month. The average age of the men was 51.
Their average testosterone level was 5.66 nanomol per litre. A normal testosterone level is between 6 and 30 nanomol per litre. After taking Tongkat Ali supplements for a month the subjects’ testosterone level had risen to 8.31 nanomol per litre.
Using a standardised questionnaire doctors give men a score for their Ageing Males’ Symptoms. Men who score less than 26 are considered to be ‘complaint free’. A score of 27-36 is ‘few complaints’; a score of 37-49 represents ‘mild complaints’ and a score of 50 or higher means ‘serious complaints’. The figure above shows that the average test subject’s condition improved from ‘mild complaints’ to ‘few complaints’.
“A treatment like this may be a reasonable therapy for numerous patients, particularly in Third World or emerging countries as such herbal extracts are often cheaper than Western pharmaceutical medicines”, the researchers write. “In Malaysia, for instance, the supplement is available in most leading pharmacies and popular as a male health supplement. Yet, randomised placebo-controlled studies investigating the positive effects of Tongkat ali on ageing male well-being including its effects on the prostate are missing in the literature thus far and are currently underway.”
Tongkat Ali is also found in sports supplements. However interesting the Malaysian study is, it doesn’t offer proof that the products actually work. Boosting a testosterone level from 5.66 to 8.31 nanomol per litre is different from raising the testosterone level of a healthy athlete to a level at which noticeably more anabolic processes occur.
Standardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism?
Tambi MI, Imran MK, Henkel RR.
Wellmen Clinic, Damai Service Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. firstname.lastname@example.org
In most countries, millions of people are relying on herbal medicines as remedy for numerous ailments. In South-East Asia, Eurycoma longifolia Jack, also known as ‘Malaysian ginseng’ or Tongkat ali, is used to combat stress and disease and to improve physical strength. Moreover, the compounds of the roots of this plant are reported to have aphrodisiac and testosterone enhancing effects in the rat. Considering that human studies are not available, 76 of 320 patients suffering from late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) were given 200 mg of a standardised water-soluble extract of Tongkat ali for 1 month. The Ageing Males’ Symptoms (AMS) according to the standardised rating scale and the serum testosterone concentration were taken. Results show that treatment of LOH patients with this Tongkat ali extract significantly (P < 0.0001) improved the AMS score as well as the serum testosterone concentration. While before treatment only 10.5% of the patients did not show any complaint according to the AMS scale and 35.5% had normal testosterone levels, after the completed treatment 71.7% and 90.8% of the patients showed normal values, respectively. Thus, Tongkat ali extract appears to be useful as a supplement in overcoming the symptoms of LOH and for the management of hypogonadism. © 2011 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. PMID: 21671978 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21671978