In our quest to find ways to boost testosterone production, and combat the effects of aging, such as andropause, our first stop is deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia. A small tree, the Eurycoma Longifolia Jack, or “tongkat ali,” has long been held to be a cure-all in much of the region, being used to treat everything from headaches to ulcers, and is often considered an aphrodisiac as well.
While some of these medicinal uses haven’t held up in trials, a surprising number have shown very positive results. A variety of laboratory studies into the effectiveness of its use to stimulate testosterone production have been quite successful, which is exactly what we’re interested in. (It’s also been shown to have benefits in fighting cancer, ulcers, and to have anti-bacterial properties, but that’s another story.)
I feel reassured, having found so many clinical studies that back up the effects of the herb. If I’m spending my money and ingesting a substance, I want to know that it works scientifically, not just anecdotally.
Tongkat Ali Production Method and Properties
Various parts of the plant are used, including the root, bark, berries, and leaves. What we’re interested in is the extract from the root of the plant. This is particularly important to keep in mind, as many companies offer concentrates or powders made from the raw pulp, which isn’t the same. The active ingredients are only present in trace quantities, so processing and extracting them from the roots is necessary in order for it to have sufficient potency.
In many studies over the past 20 years, tongkat ali has been shown to increase testosterone levels in test subjects. Many early tests were conducted on rats, gaging sexual interest and frequency. Results have conclusively and repeatedly shown success in these studies . It’s believed that the tongkat ali extract’s mechanism of action is stimulation of the secretion of “luteinizing hormone,” which triggers the testacies to produce more testosterone.
Thus, your body’s own production of testosterone being increased, rather than introducing the hormone from outside (potentially synthetic) sources. The extract itself has no testosterone in it, so you avoid any nasty side effects like shrunken testis.
The testosterone levels in your body are measured in overall testosterone, and “free” testosterone. Much of your body’s testosterone is chemically bound by a protein, SHBG, which inhibits the body’s ability to make use of it. Free testosterone, however, hasn’t been bound, and is capable of being used by your system to the fullest effect. Tongkat ali has the interesting property of especially increasing free testosterone levels.
Effects You Can Expect While Taking Tongkat Ali
I mentioned a lot of the problems presented by low testosterone levels in my post about andropause. Taking a look at the effects of tongkat ali start to really make it even clearer that it’s boosting testosterone, and solving many of those problems. I feel almost as though it’s a way of cheating aging, and turning back the clock.
Positive effects tend to become apparent in one to two weeks. Most users start to notice increased energy and libido, as well as elevated moods and increased concentration. Sexual effects can include stamina and increased semen volume, as well as harder erections. Decreased fat accumulation and increased muscle gain are also among common physical effects of heightened testosterone levels.
How to Determine Potency, and Proper Dosage
The extract itself is usually a powdered form. You’ll want to purchase it in a capsule form, because the extract has a very bitter, unpleasant taste. Do yourself a favor, don’t be tempted to taste the powder, it’s a mistake I won’t easily forget. Pill capsules alleviate that, and I’ve never experienced any problems with aftertaste from taking them.
Potency of an extract can be a bit confusing, and is measured in ratios. Tongkat ali is generally sold in potencies such as 1:50, 1:100, and 1:200. In a 1:50 potency, that means that 50 grams of the root are ground and the active ingredients are extracted to produce 1 gram of the final extract. A 1:200 ratio tends to be the most potent you see on the market. Any more extraction would result in too much loss of the active ingredients to be worthwhile.
The advantage of a higher potency is that each capsule of the extract has a higher amount of active ingredients in it, allowing you to have the same effect while taking many fewer pills.
Dosages vary depending on desired results. Doses around 600mg per day of 1:200 extract seem to be effective for most men. Athletes and bodybuilders sometimes use upward of 1,000mg daily, though that’s more than would usually be necessary. The daily dose is usually split, taken half in the morning and half in the afternoon, for the greatest effect.
The dose is generally cycled, 5 days on and 2 days off (or, less common, 7 days on and 3 days off.) The cycle is there to keep the endocrine system producing those luteinizing hormones we talked about earlier. Taken constantly, in most people the endocrine system would eventually adapt, and produce lower levels of them. Cycling the dosage keeps the system pumping them out.
Things to Watch Out For When Purchasing Tongkat Ali
Of course at this point you probably wonder if it’s too good to be true. I was surprised to find that it really isn’t. The quality of the product is important in achieving results, but the potential side effects are pretty trivial, and uncommon. That always makes me happy to learn, as I know I can take a product with relative ease.
Side effects seem to be rare and minor. Some users experience mild insomnia early on, though in this case you can start with a smaller dose and work your way up. Others feel their body temperature seems to be slightly higher, though not drastically so. I’ve never experienced either side effect, however, and from what I can tell they seem to be fairly rare. Neither effect is particularly severe.
One important thing that I found while researching it – the purity and quality of the root are something to watch out for, when choosing where to purchase your supply. Malaysian tongkat ali is known to often possess a high lead content, making it unsuitable for medicinal use. Young tongkat ali plants aren’t high in the active compounds we’re interested in. It’s best to use sources that deal in Indonesian plants which have been allowed to age.
Overall, tongkat ali extract is an indispensable tool for increasing your testosterone production. I’ve personally had good results with it, finding my energy levels greatly increased, and feeling quite a bit younger within two weeks of beginning to take it. It fights, and even turns back the effects of aging and promotes more vitality and virility. Being careful to select a quality source of the extract is important, but once you’ve found a good supply, the effects will be well worth it.
Next time, we’ll look at some common vitamins and minerals that can help with production of testosterone, and combat andropause.
 Chan, Kit-Lam; Low, Bin-Seng; Teh, Chin-Hoe; Das, Prashanta K, “The effect of Eurycoma longifolia on sperm quality of male rats,” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19911566
 Ang HH, Ngai TH, Tan TH (2003). “Effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack on sexual qualities in middle aged male rats” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13678248
 Tee TT, & Azimahtol HL. (2005). “Induction of apoptosis by Eurycoma longifolia jack extracts” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16158965
 Hamzah S, Yusof A (2003). “The Ergogenic Effects of Eurycoma Longifolia Jack: A Pilot Study”. British Journal of Sports Medicine 37: 464–70
 Ang HH, Lee KL, Kiyoshi M (2004). “Sexual arousal in sexually sluggish old male rats after oral administration of Eurycoma longifolia Jack” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15803965