Tongkat ali is a plant and herbal supplement also called by such names as long jack and pasak bumi--and by its botanical name, Eurycoma longifolia. As a folk remedy in Malaysia, tongkat ali is employed as an aphrodisiac and a treatment for erectile dysfunction, fever, fatigue, high blood pressure and malaria. Several documented scientific studies exist of tongkat ali’s effects in animals, but research on its effects in humans is not yet as extensive.
Consumption and Benefits
The roots of the tongkat ali tree are dried and ground into a powder similar in appearance to coffee. Users can take tongkat ali in powder or pill form. According to Herbal Supplement Resource, tongkat ali may increase the amount of testosterone in the blood helping an males maintain erections and potentially increasing an individual's muscle mass.
A 2005 study on human subjects, documented at Herbal Supplement Resource, reports that tongkat ali increases the amount of high-density lipoproteins, or HDLs, in the blood, which are essential to maintaining healthy arteries by preventing the accumulation of plaque along artery walls. The same 2005 study also reported an increase in human growth hormone (HGH), which is responsible for the growth and reproduction of cells. According to Chris Kiham at Medicine Hunter, the tongkat ali root contains antioxidants that can inhibit cellular aging as well as phytochemicals to fight viruses and cancer. According to a study by Tee and Azimahtol, documented at PubMed.gov, tongkat ali caused apoptosis, or cell death, in human breast cancer cells. Another study by Kuo and colleagues, also documented at PubMed.gov, reports that tongkat ali was cytotoxic, or fatal to human lung cancer cells.
Dr. Johari Saad, quoted at Medicine Hunter, notes that the main benefits of tongkat ali in animals are increased energy from the production of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and increased testosterone. Saad also observed in his research that tongkat ali inhibits sex hormone binding globulin, or SHBG, to allow testosterone to remain in the blood longer.
Herbal Resource Supplement suggests that women should avoid using tongkat ali if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Men who have diabetes, prostate cancer or heart, liver or kidney disease should not take tongkat ali. Individuals with sleep apnea should not take tongkat ali. Excessive consumption of tongkat ali can result in anxiety and insomnia because of the body's increased production of ATP. Individuals interested in adding this supplement to their regimen should consult a health care provider before doing so.