Tongkat Info & FAQ
Where is it from?
Tongkat Ali is a very rare and unique plant which only grows in the far east, mainly in Indonesia, Malaysia & Thailand, however it is now a protected species in Malaysia due to the locals over harvesting the plant. According to FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia), it can however still be harvested in the wild, but there are national parks and reserves containing Tongkat Ali in Malaysia to prevent extinction and harvesting from these areas is strictly forbidden. Some Malaysian manufacturers also import the roots from Indonesia.
PowerOfTheHerb.com sells an extract using Indonesian roots.
What about plantations?
There are field plantations in Malaysia, the oldest of which i know of mentioned is 7 years old, see HERE for proof of this in a study.
There are even modern but safe ways of growing Tongkat Ali to increase the active ingredients in the plants roots, and even increase the number of shoots from 1, which is what a wild grown plant will have, to 6!
A study that you can download HERE has proven not only the above, but also that it is now possible to yield more Eurycomanone from a 1 year old cultivated plant than a mature wild plant, meaning in the future harvesting mature plants will no longer be needed to obtain the same benefits, which is of course great news for the declining species and for manufacturers!
What does it mean?
The word "Tongkat Ali" is Malaysian and translates to "Ali's¬†walking stick", partly because of the long thin trunk of the tree which resembles a huge stick, and partly some say because it is a sexual innuendo, as It is used as an aphrodisiac.
How many species?
There are a total four species being referred by locals with the name Tongkat Ali, according to the Journal of applied science, but I count five including Jackiopsis ornata which is often called Red Tongkat Ali, though this is not an official member of the same species.
Eurycoma longifolia, yellow/beige in color in it's raw form, is the most studied and the most used for extracts. When people talk about Tongkat Ali, this is usually what they are referring to and is really the only species you should consider if you are basing your purchase on studies.
Polyathia bullata, also known as Hitam, which is Black/dark brown on the outside and creamy white on the inside, sometimes called King. Also used in extracts by some manufacturers though not as much and is not very well studied.
Eurycoma apiculata, very little info about this species online.
Goniothalamus sp, very little info about this species available online.
Jackiopsis ornata, also known as Merah, which has reddish pink tinge to it in places and is called Red Tongkat Ali by some people in Malaysia although it is not actually a member of the same species. It is not as bitter as Eurycoma Longifolia and is said to have a pleasant Ginseng like taste.
What is it used for?
Tongkat Ali has a very long history of popular use in the far east as a herbal remedy and as an aphrodisiac, which was apparently a rather nice side effect discovered by accident.
It is now in great demand with bodybuilders in the western world, due to its reported ability to raise free testosterone levels naturally. The British journal of sports medicine recently announced it as being an official anabolic in a recent double-blind placebo study, which confirms its effectiveness with unbiased studies. There is also a huge wealth of info on the "PubMed" site, just type in Eurycoma longifolia.
What is a standardized extract?
A standardized extract is an extract that was created to contain a specific percentage of a constituent or constituents that have shown to be effective for whatever the herb is being sold for. In the case of Tongkat Ali, eurycomanone is the most common constituent to use for this as it is the most studied and may be the most beneficial for naturally rasing and maintaining libido and testosterone levels. It is the main marker constituent for Tongkat Ali when testing to see if an extract is genuine.
How is a standardized extract produced?
A standardized extract is made by removing the wanted constituent from the plant extract, reducing the amount of plant extract accordingly and then adding the wanted constituent back in to it.
For example if you has 120 grams of Tongkat Ali, and 10 grams of it were eurycomanone, and you wanted a 10% eurycomanone extract, you would remove the eurycomanone from the extracted herbal base, discard 20 grams, and put the eurycomanone back.
The above is obviously a very simplified explanation and there is more to it than that, but the above is the basics you need to know. Increasing the content of one constituent therefore may result in the sacrifice of others, or the percentage of some others left over, but also ensures the quality is consistent batch to batch and makes it a more popular choice for consumers, since not only do they a get consistent product, but the product is guaranteed to contain the wanted constituent and will almost certainly be a genuine product.
Some manufacturers may also produce an extract using normal methods, and test every batch for the eurycomanone content. If it meets or exceeds the number they require, it can be kept, If not , it cannot be used for that specific product. In Malaysia it is now a legal requirement that all Tongkat Ali extract products contain at least 0.8% eurycomanone, althoguh there are still plenty of non tested fakes in circulation.
The problem with non standardized extracts (extract ratios).
The problem with herbs sold with only extract ratios is that it is 100% impossible to know if the herb is real or not, or how genuine the extract ratio given is since no tests exist to test for such a thing since there are to many factors involved in the production process that may affect the amount of raw herb used, and to many different extraction methods.
A recent independant non biased study tested 42 products being sold as tongkat ali, some with an extract ratio and some without, for the presence of eurycomanone. If it did not contain any eurycomanone then it was obviously fake.
Out of these 41 products,17 of them contained no eurycomanone at all. 12 of these were purchased from Amazon and some were from know brands that were registered with the Malaysian health department and had a registration number, proving that this means nothing.
From the 24 products that did contain eurycomanone, 10 contained less than the legal required standard of 0.8% in Malaysia, meaning they were either of low quality or not extracted properly.
The remaining 14 products had above the required level of 0.8% and one product actually had 8%, although rather dissapointingly that companies extract is not standardised to 8% so it may have been a fluke and is not guaranteed in future batches. They also only sell 100mg of Tongkat Ali per capsule, the other 250mg is a filler that will do nothing for you, so it is not actually a very good purchase. If it was, I would be selling it!
Buying a standardized Tongkat Ali product that has been HPLC tested, is always going to be the safest way to ensure what you are buying is of good quality and legit. Some brands will claim ridiculous amounts of eurycomanone such as 25% but will not be able to prove it as they are just scam artists and also that would be a bad idea, since there are hundreds of other beneficial constituents in Tongkat, so producing a 25% eurycomanone extract would reduce the overall quality of the product.
For more info about plant extracts and how they are made etc, there is plenty of information on the website at www.ahpa.org about all sorts of things herbal, and an article explaining about extracts in more details can be found HERE.
The only real downside to standardization is that to increase percentage of one constituent others may need to be removed, and this may or may not decrease the desired effect, depending on what you are trying to achieve. Since eurycomanone is the major and most studied of Tongkat Ali's constituents, it is felt that the benefits outweigh this minor downside and with Tonkat Ali it is not really a problem as long as you do not take the percentage to high.
What are the active constituents found in Tongkat Ali?
Below is an image showing the many active constituents. Hold control and move your mouse wheel up to zoom in on images if using a Windows PC.
How long does it take for Tongkat Ali to work?
This is not possible to answer as it varies from person to person. Some people may feel an effect in as little as 3 days, others may need a few weeks, and there will also be people who never see any effect at all, because as with ALL herbal products and even all man made prescription drugs, and even pro hormones, there is no guarantee they will have any noticeable effect upon an individual. What works for one may not work for another. This is a fact you should be aware of as no returns are accepted should this be the case.
How old should I be before taking Tongkat Ali?
You should NOT take Tongkat Ali if you are below the age of 18. If you are between 18 and 30 then you will likely not see much of an effect from any testosterone boosting supplement or aphrodisiac as your test levels and libido are likely already normal, and if they are not normal, you should see a doctor before trying a herb.
How is Tongkat Ali Extract Produced?
.All production methods tend to be very similar, but times, extract solutions, extraction temperatures, species, parts of the plant used and the final conversion method in to an extract powder may vary.
Basically the roots are heated in a liquid solvent, which can be water, ethanol, methanol or grain alcohol, and then removed from the solvent.
The remaining liquid is then evaporated until all that remains is the extract from within the plant. This is then milled, spray dried or freeze dried in to a fine powder.
According to manufacturers I have spoken to, and what limited info is available on the internet, low extract ratios such as those below 1:20 will contain parts of the plant which are of no benefit, e.g. cellulose.
Higher extract ratios have all the pointless parts of the plant such as cellulose removed.
Very high ratios, such as 1:100 and 1:200, have some constituents removed to increase the percentage of others which are of more benefit and less of an irritant to the stomach, hence why a lot more raw herb is used (4 X more than 1:50) and hence why it is about 4 X the price.
The major constituent in Tongkat Ali, and the most studied, is Eurycomanone. It has shown in studies to be responsible for the effects most people associate with Tongka. It is now used as a marker to prove whether or not a product is genuine, since if no eurycomanone is found, it is not Tongkat Ali. Even raw roots will contain eurycomanone, although in much smaller amounts.
The link below has lots of info on Eurycomanone.
The minimum requirement for eurycomanone content is 0.8% in Malaysia and they say most companies should be able to achieve 0.8 - 2%. Other countries have no requirements. Over 2% is considered very good quality. The product sold here is 2.4%.
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MUST READ INFO!
Tongkat Ali Research and studies. The British Journal of sports medicine found that Tongkat Ali can increase muscle mass in humans, plus other studies.Read More
ESSENTIAL READING! Is your Tongkat Ali real, or just a similar looking and tasting substitute, or just root powder?
Does FDA registration and a COA actually mean anything? What is a Eurypeptide?
What colour should your extract be? Does it really matter?Read More
DIET AND DOSE INFO. Certain foods can reduce how effective Tongkat Ali is, and your dose might not be effective for you.
Check out this useful diet and dose info!