Tongkat Ali Buyers Guide, what to look for and things to avoid.
Below you will find various information about fake products and scams and learn what is important and what isn't when it comes to looking for a genuine product. Links to independent sources of information and evidence have been provided when possible to prove that none of the below information is made up or biased.
PROOF many extracts are fake!
A recent independent, non-biased study tested 41 products being sold on Amazon and other sites 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 fake, as it is simply not possible for Tongkat Ali to not contain eurycomanone, since it is a part of the plants biology.
Out of these 41 products, 17 of them contained no eurycomanone at all, 12 of which were purchased from Amazon and some were from known brands with good reviews that were registered with the Malaysian health department and/or FDA, proving that registration does not mean a product is real or tested and neither do good reviews.
Out of the 24 that did contain eurycomanone, 10 contained less than the legally required standard of 0.8% in Malaysia, meaning they were either of low quality or not extracted properly.
Just 14 products out of the 41 had above the required level of 0.8% eurycomanone.
One product in the study, Nu Prep Lelaki, actually states 8%, although rather disappointingly that product was not standardized to 8% and stated 0.8% - 2% on the bottle, so it may just have been a fluke or mistake, and 8% is not guaranteed in any future batches.
The product also contained an alarmingly low 100mg of Tongkat Ali per capsule, the other 250mg was a filler that will do nothing for you. This means that even if it did contain 8%, 8% of 100mg is 8mg of eurycomanone and just 92mg of other active constituents per capsule, which means the benefits of the other constituents would for the most part likely be lost.
Also to make the bottle last 1 month you will be limited to 200mg per day, a substantially lower amount than the 1200mg per day many brands recommend and I myself am used to taking. There are also only 6g of extract in the entire bottle, so what looks good on paper is not so good in practice.
You can read the above mentioned independent study yourself HERE
Major stores sold fake herbal products!
A recent independent test done in Canada proved beyond doubt that a 3rd of the supplements on the market today,even those which are cheap and common, are often just substituted with something else, meaning they are fake and you do not have any way of knowing what you are buying. About 60% of the products had also been adulterated. See the link HERE.
Even major stores like Walmart, GNC and Target have sold fake herbals, see links below...
(links open in a new tab)
Customer reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt!
Even if a product comes with good reviews it does not mean you will get the same results the reviewers did, you may see no result at all. The same goes for bad reviews, just because a reviewer did not feel any effect doesn't mean you won't.
When it comes to Tongkat Ali and indeed many other herbs, results can vary wildly between users because everybody is different and responds to different things, which is why this site does not show or collect reviews. If you want to read reviews of the products we sell you can do so at the WorldABS.com site and then return here to purchase at a discounted price, but remember, do not shop for herbal products based solely on reviews. Of course if a product has overwhelmingly bad reviews I think it's safe to say you should probably avoid it.
Tongkat Ali is NOT like Viagra.
Referring to Tongkat Ali as herbal Viagra is both a very misleading marketing gimmick and common misconception. Over a period of time, e.g. weeks, Tongkat Ali may slowly raise your libido, and a side effect of a higher libido can of course be more frequent and harder erections.
Tongkat Ali should never however be instant or fast working like the blue pill, so if it works in 20 minutes and your not suffering from extreme placebo effects, than i would say it is almost certainly spiked with sildenafil, tadalafil and other such ingredients, as these substances are are much cheaper to produce than genuine Tongkat and much more effective for those looking for those kind of results. Of course they also come with all of the negative side effects and won't help you at all in the long term.
Users of adulterated products often give good reviews and recommendations as they have no idea they are taking prescription drugs, and those same people then think that genuine Tongkat Ali, which should NEVER give those types of results under any circumstances unless the user is prone to placebo effects, is fake.
Below are links to warnings companies have received from the FDA as their products contained Viagra like drugs.
Interestingly, there seems to be no punishment for spiking herbal products, you simply get a polite warning letter the first time you get caught.
To avoid fake or weak herbal extracts, ensure they are standardized.
To find out what a standardized extract is, read the Tongkat Facts page HERE.
If the extract you are purchasing is standardized to an active constituent relevant to the effects you desire, that is only found in that plant you are purchasing, or has been tested after extraction to ensure it contains them, then the chances are it is genuine.
You should make sure that the percentage of this active constituent is high enough to be effective but not so high that others are lost. 2-3% is ideal.
In the case of Tongkat Ali, make sure the extract is very bitter, because real Tongkat that is effective and contains eurycomanone and other Quassinoids will be incredibly bitter. Just one 400mg capsule can make a litre of water taste so bad you may want to throw up. Quassinoids are one of the most bitter substances on earth, you simply can't disguise the taste. Of course other herbs such as Tribulus are also very bitter, so being bitter alone does not guarantee it is real, but not being bitter does mean it's fake.
Sumatra Pasak Bumi's false comments about standardization.
You may have heard of Sumatra Pasak Bumi, the company that claims to have invented 1:50 and 1:200 extract ratios, and has been making ridiculous false statements for a long time. They now claim that standardization of herbal extracts is a scam, and basically say in so many words that it's not possible so avoid standardized herbs. This is obviously the complete opposite of reality and truth and shows how dishonest, or naive, they are.
The fact that standardization is a well known, common and accepted method worldwide of ensuring herbs are real and potent seems to have eluded them, and their complete refusal to catch up to the modern-day world and better themselves and their product is worrying.
On their website, they say that to make an extract standardized to eurycomanone you would need to produce eurycomaonone on an industrial scale and it would cost thousands, because if you had, for example, Tongkat with only 1% eurycomanone, you would need to add another 1% if you wanted to make it 2%. THIS IS NOT TRUE AT ALL!
If I have 3 red balls, and 4 blue balls, and I want to make it 50% red and 50% blue, I do NOT need to add another red ball, I simply have to take a blue ball away! And this is how it works, if your extract has 1% eurycomanone and you want to make it 2% you simply remove a very small percentage of other constituents, of which there are literally hundreds, until it reaches 2% eurycomanone. This is a very common method of standardizing a product, and in my opinion SPB know this and are trying to miss-lead people so that they buy their product instead.
SPB themselves claim that to make their 1:200 extract they remove certain constituents which make it easier to digest than a 1:50 extract, hence why in their case it takes 4x the amount of raw extract to produce compared to 1:50. Standardization during the manufacturing phase works with the same principle, some things are removed if needed (but not completely) to increase the percentage of others. No manufacturing eurycomanone on an industrial scale or adding it is ever needed and never has been!
Below is a screen capture of the page on their site that contains their false comments...
At the end of the above screen-shot SPB go as far as claiming other companies could just sell flour or sawdust, and nobody can check this. If it was flour or sawdust I think it would be very obvious to everybody who took it, and very obvious to whoever tested it, since it would not be incredibly bitter like it should be, or be effective at all, and would taste exactly like flour or sawdust. It also would not contain any eurycomanone or anything else found in the plant.
Another false statement that they have now added to a few sites they have set up, seemingly to try and discredit standardization, is that it does not exist for natural products...
The main reason standardisation exists at all is so that that companies who run tests such as double-blind placebo tests on both natural herbal products and meds can ensure each batch is the same, with the same percentage of constituents and ingredients they are testing, so the results are accurate and each person takes exactly the same amount of everything.
Some links to prove this below...
Yet more nonsense from SPB is that HPLC testing is rare and expensive and takes a long time to achieve. This is not the case, it is incredibly cheap and very fast in this day and age, it can be done in just a few days from request and thousands of companies exist globally that can do it, not just a handful at high prices like they make out.
www.Chromadex.com¬†for example has low prices and a 5 day turn around, and a few seconds of googling will show you many many more companies worldwide.
A few years ago, as some regular customers may recall, World A.B.S and many other brands including Herbolab used to use SPB as a supplier, but their statements were so dishonest and the quality was so inconsistent from batch to batch that it caused many complaints, with one final batch being so burnt it was almost black and tasted like ash, would not dissolve in warm water and had almost no bitter taste. This was the final straw, and at this point, World A.B.S and other resellers switched to different suppliers. The SPB site now contains just 7 resellers, it once had around 30 if I recall correctly.
SPB also claimed that 1:200 extract must be dark brown and if it is not then it is fake. This was another false statement to make people buy their extract, since most other extracts on the market were not dark brown. The color of an extract is actually mostly related to extraction temperatures and how long the extract is exposed to them, which varies depending on the extraction and drying methods used. It has nothing at all to do with the extract ratio. More about this can be found on the Tongkat Facts page HERE.
Beware of falsified extract ratios...
Extract ratios mean very little at all in the case of Tongkat Ali and many other herbs, they are not a gage of potency despite popular belief. One apparently award-winning well established Chinese company, "Naturalin Bio" actually admitted that they lie about their extract ratios because if they did not, nobody would buy from them! The COA stated 1:200. They told me it was actually just 1:35 when I asked them after testing them myself why all of their extracts were seemingly the same despite claiming different ratios. I also suspected they were all Tribulus as that is exactly what it tasted like.
Screen-shot of the email below...
I can happily forward the email and the full details, i.p address, etc, to anyone that wants it as I do realize some people may think the screen-shot is fake.
Beware of fake eurycomanone percentages on the bottle.
Since POTH started selling standardized Tongkat, another company based in the UK has also started claiming 2.4% eurycomanone on the label and stating this is the optimal dose, but is selling at a very cheap and unrealistic price. This is a dead giveaway that it is probably not true, so we emailed them as a potential customer asking if they had any proof, they responded the first time saying this was a mistake and promptly removed the claim.
Shortly after they added the claim again, perhaps thinking we would not notice, so they were emailed a second time using a different email address, different wording and a VPN so they would not know it was us, once again posing as a potential customer, and they responded saying they cannot provide any proof as they are worried it will be stolen by competitors! Given the fact it is 100% impossible for anybody to steal any proof and use it if you simply add a translucent watermark showing your companies name over it, which is very common practice and takes 5 seconds, one can only assume this was a lie and the printed percentage is fake to gain sales.
Beware of stupidly high eurycomanone content claims.
Other companies are claiming anything from 25 - 85% eurycomanone content in a possible attempt to compete and look good, but such high percentages are not possible in a public supplement!
25 - 85% would likely poison anybody that used it at the doses they recommend. Such high percentage extracts can only be found in research laboratories, are almost snow white in color and 85% extract is around $100 for 10mg, which is $10,000 per gram! Obviously this is too expensive and dangerous to use in a supplement.
As already mentioned, Tongkat Ali contains hundreds of active constituents, not just eurycomanone, so it would be pointless to use a high percentage of eurycomanone in a supplement even if you could, since many of the other constituents are also needed and these would have to be reduced by a large amount if you went too high.
Selling root powder or other substances in place of a real extract is common.
Chinese Tongkat Ali can be purchased from 50 dollars a kilo, so astronomical profits can be made selling these so called Tongkat extracts even at low prices. In many cases though they are not what they state and some wholesalers never have them tested, which is how they find their way into big stores and brands as mentioned earlier.
One way to make large profits is to use either Tongkat Ali roots ground in to dust but not extracted, known as root powder, or use a cheaper herb with a similar taste and label it as Tongkat Extract.
Side by side, Tongkat Ali and extracts such as Tribulus look identical, the shade may sometimes vary but that is normal with both herbs. They both taste bitter and are both reported to raise libido, so if someone has never tried real Tongkat Ali before they may think the Tribulus was indeed Tongkat. Those who have tried both should be able to tell the difference as the taste and smell is quite different, but people often do not open the capsules to find out.
FDA and other health organization registration numbers are not proof a product is real.
The most common tactic used by a seller of a fake product is to show you an FDA registration number or The Health Ministry of Malaysia registration number or similar, or to display them in a prominent place on their site as if they actually mean something. Neither is recognized by the actual FDA or Malaysian Health Ministry as proof of a genuine product.
The FDA does NOT test any herbal product before it goes to market or after, unless someone is harmed by the product or reports an adverse side effect (by which time it is to late).
The FDA will routinely inspect food and herbal facility's, but they will only make sure the facility is up to hygiene and safety standards and that accurate records, batch numbers, etc are kept, things like that, they will not test the actual supplements being produced to see if they are real without good reason, such as people reporting strange or adverse side effects.
See the below links for evidence of this...
Anybody anywhere in the world can obtain an FDA reg number for free HERE.
Numbers, as far as I know, are issued by a computer automatically and not after any kind of inspection is done.
COA stands for "Certificate Of Analysis" NOT "Certificate Of Authenticity".
A COA will show the results for whatever the substance submitted was tested for, e.g. Salmonella, Heavy metals, etc. It does not prove a product is "Authentic".
An HPLC test or a similar type of test is the only sure way to know for sure if a product is real and potent or just fake/weak, but most COA's do not contain any HPLC information as they only have the bare minimum of legal tests carried out. Just because a company has a COA does not mean it is real, and many Asian sellers, especially in China where most fake Tongkat seems to come from, will present a fake COA that is not possible to check because they issue it themselves and have someone who works for their company to sign or verify it.
A TLC test or DNA test can also prove a product is at least partially real, for example, it could prove it contains eurycomanone, meaning it does contain real Tongkat Ali, but not how much.
Avoid liquid extract as it is mostly just water or ethanol etc.
Liquid extracts are weaker than a true herbal extract in the case of Tongkat Ali and most other herbs, and this is why...
To remove the active ingredients from the TKA plants root a liquid must be used, e.g. water or alcohol. Traditional methods involve soaking the roots in this liquid for hours and then repeatedly boiling it. This releases the extract from the roots into the liquid.
Once this is done the roots are removed from the liquid which is then evaporated, which removes the ineffective liquid and also other pointless constituents such as cellulose etc, and a concentrated extract is all that remains in the form of crystal-dry flakes. These flakes are then milled, spray dried or freeze-dried into a pure fine powder which is basically a very concentrated extract.
Liquid extracts are just overpriced extracts which still contain the water or alcohol liquid that hasn't been evaporated, or more likely one or two capsules worth of extract have been dissolved in to a small glass tincture, so that it can be sold as a liquid extract by dishonest sellers looking to make absolutely massive profits from buyers who think liquid extract is better because they have never properly researched what they are buying. It only takes one or two capsules of real Tongkat Ali to turn a tincture full of water the color of the extract, and it will taste very bitter, so do not be fooled by sellers claiming their liquid extract is good just because it is bitter either.
Whilst it may be true that liquid extracts are often better than a herbal powder (which is just a herb that has been dried and pulverized into powder) they are NOT better than a powdered EXTRACT. Powdered herbs and powdered extracts are very different things.
Only buy ROOT extract!
You should be aware that many people sell extract that is from other parts of the plant, e.g. the bark or the leaves or even the seeds, and not the root. Whilst technically this is still genuine Tongkat Ali, it is only the root that is useful and it is only the root extract that Tongkat studies are based upon.
Whilst other parts of the plant may contain some of the needed constituents, there will be so few of them present that it would be pointless to consume it. Basically, if you see an extract for sale that does not state ROOT it will likely be from other parts of the plant. Even if it does state root, it could still be from other parts of the plant but the manufacturer has just labeled it as root extract.
It must also state root EXTRACT, since if it just says root, or pure Tongkat Ali, it is also very likely to just be the unprocessed root ground into a powder.
I have seen people purchasing bags of root powder on ebay, hundreds have been sold in fact, and I doubt they realize they will need to boil it and then remove the powder and drink the water once boiled to use it safely. Simply consuming the root powder mixed in to a drink or capsule would require the user to consume an incredible amount, at least 35 grams daily, more than would be safe to do so, and may contain parasites etc.
If you are worried you have been sold root powder, simply heat up some water and add the powder to it and stir. Make sure the water is warm. An extract should dissolve into the water and appear to fully vanish after a few minutes of stirring. Root powder will not dissolve as much and will leave behind a lot of residue.
Thanks for reading!
I hope all of the above has been useful and allows you to make a more informed purchase in the future, whether that be from here or elsewhere.