Botanical Name: Eurycoma longifolia.
Other Common Names: Longjack and pasak bumi.
Habitat: Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand.
Description: Tongkat ali (meaning ali’s walking stick) gets its name from the long twisted roots that are harvested for their medicinal value.
The plant itself is a slow-growing tree, taking up to twenty-five years to mature.
It has a slim trunk and grows up to ten meters in height under the rainforest canopy. However, preparations are being made from much younger plants as it becomes more difficult to obtain older plants.
Tongkat ali is wild crafted with most supplies being taken from Indonesian forests. This herb is difficult to grow, preferring a sandy, well-drained soil and partial shade with regular doses of water.
Plant Parts Used: Root, dried and ground into a powder or a liquid that resembles coffee.
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims
Essentially, tongkat ali increases testosterone in the blood. This herb is traditionally prescribed in Malaysia as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for sexual dysfunction.
In addition, it is gaining interest in bodybuilding community because of its alleged ability in increasing testosterone levels in the body and in turn increase muscle mass and strength.
Eurycoma longifolia also increases energy production in the body by increasing ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), an energy-rich chemical that is responsible for nearly all the energy production in the body.
At times of endurance exercise, the ATP is used faster than it is replaced resulting in fatigue or exhaustion.
Taking tongkat ali carries a warning of insomnia and restlessness if the dose is too high.
As a sexual enhancer, tongkat ali seems to not only assist in maintaining erections but is also considered a good herb for libido enhancement, or sexual desire. Primarily the way that it achieves its action is by increasing testosterone levels in the blood.
Studies into the therapeutic use of this herb at this time have mainly been restricted to animal models where the aphrodisiac properties of tongkat ali have been positive.
One study using human subjects in 2005 found that the herb increased HDLs (high-density lipoproteins), which are necessary for healthy arteries.
Basically, HDLs can help stop the buildup of plaque in the arterial walls and lower the risk of heart attack.
This same study reports that there was an increase in HGH (human growth hormone) when taking this herb, which may account for tongkat ali’s reputation as an anti-aging supplement.
HGH levels lower with age; a person at sixty has about twenty percent of the HGH of a twenty-year-old.
The dosage for tongkat ali varies, the powder it can be dissolved into a tea, which is extremely bitter; the dried chips are commonly boiled in water and drunk, the standard dose is considered to be a maximum of one 50gram chip per day.
Users should monitor themselves for irritability and insomnia and reduce their dose if these side effects occur.
Potential Side Effects of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia)
As this herb may increase testosterone levels, women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should not use tongkat ali, and men with prostate or breast cancer, diabetes, heart, liver or kidney disease should not take it.
It is to be avoided if there is sleep disturbances or sleep apnea.
A 2004 Study found into tongkat ali made the observation that elevated testosterone could cause the immune system to become suppressed.
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” . . . and men with prostate or breast cancer, diabetes, heart, liver or kidney disease should not take it.”
Why is that? Extra testosterone giving problems? It would be good if an explanation is provided.