The world is moving very quickly in science and technology. Thanks to the impressive progress of medical science in the last century that the deadly diseases that used to take away hundreds of lives take only a mere trip to the doctor or pharmacy to heal properly today. How did this tremendous change take place?
If we look closely, nature has all of the solutions to all our problems ranging from headaches to jaundice.
Today, we will look into one such exquisite medicinal herbs, tongkat ali, that recently caught the eyes of many renowned doctors and researchers due to its unique pharmacological characteristics and medical benefits.
What is Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat ali, scientifically known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a slender, middle-sized, unbranched flowering plant mostly found in Malaysian and Indonesian tropical rainforests. It is also commonly known as “Malaysian ginseng”, “long jack”(US), “bidara laut” (Indonesia), and “tung saw” (Thailand). The common names are mostly given in reference to the plants’ medicinal use and extreme bitter taste, such as the Malay name Penawar pahit simply means “bitter antidote” or “bitter charm.”
How It Is Used
Tongkat ali has been used traditionally in folk medicines in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other southeast Asian countries.
In Malaysia and Indonesia, the root of the plant or the root extract is boiled in tea and then consumed as a health tonic. In Malaysia, a paste made with the leaves of the plant is also applied topically to relieve headaches and stomachaches. In Vietnam, the fruits and flowers are used as a treatment of dysentery and the root is also used for malaria and fever.
In modern days, tongkat ali is found in many dietary supplements intended to improve energy and libido and reduce stress such as coffee, herbal tea, energy drinks, and beverages etc.
Benefits of Tongkat Ali
Many health benefits attributed to tongkat ali are not backed up by research yet and are only purported. It is believed that tongkat ali is not only an aphrodisiac, but it also helps in male infertility in a sense that it can improve the quality and concentration of sperm in infertile men.
Commonly, tongkat ali is used to increase energy, vigor, mental focus, and stamina, and enhance sports performance. It is also used to improve libido in older men. It is said to be highly fruitful in treating everyday stress and fatigue and depression stemming from hormonal imbalances in both men and women.
Other potential health benefits which have been attributed to tongkat ali include antidiabetic, antimalarial, and antimicrobial activities. Traditional beliefs claim that this plant has helped treating fever, dysentery, intestinal worms, diarrhea, indigestion, and jaundice.
Chemical components of Tongkat Ali
The many health benefits and the wondrous activities performed by tongkat ali all result from the presence of some vital bioactive compounds.
Tongkat ali is very rich in quassinoids. Different parts of the plant consist of different types of other bioactive chemicals such as flavonoids, alkaloids, triterpenes, squalene derivatives, $-carboline alkaloids, etc in different compositions.
How Tongkat Ali Works
The several chemicals contained by tongkat ali seem to have different effects in the human body, and it works in two phases.
The faster phase kicks in within 30-60 mins of taking the first dose. You will start to feel more mentally energetic, focused, and aware. In this phase, it is only working on the neurotransmitters, not on the endocrine system or hormones.
But the second phase works on another mechanism. After about 15 days of regular usage of tongkat ali, it gradually starts to build an effect on the endocrine system. It does so by decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol, and increasing the steroid hormone, testosterone.
Nevertheless, it does not increase the production or secretion of any hormone; it just makes more testosterone bioavailable by making them free from their binding proteins, sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG). It basically normalizes the hormonal balance.
In this way, tongkat ali works not as a booster but as an adaptogen that helps you maintain balance notwithstanding the direction of change. It can increase or decrease the testosterone release rate as required in your body.
This particular feature of tongkat ali makes it free of overdosing risk for people with sub-optimal testosterone levels, such as middle-aged people with stress, fatigue, depression, and anxiety or people who are taking tongkat ali for weight loss and athletes who train hard. This feature also makes it a very effective stress reliever as it balances the hormones responsible to regulate moods.
Tongkat ali is available in different forms, such as powder, liquid, or roots, and in different ratios.
Different versions act differently on the human body. Tongkat Ali dosage are more effective and safer if extracted with water than when it is extracted with alcohol.
Doctors and researchers suggest a 200mg/day dosage for 3-9 months for treating different issues such as treating low libido, male infertility, depression, and everyday stress.
Since tongkat ali is an adaptogen, higher dosages can be taken, but it is not necessary.
Who Benefits Most from Tongkat Ali
Like every other herbal remedy, tongkat ali has something to give to almost everyone. But people who will benefit the most from tongkat ali are middle-aged or older men or men of any age suffering from fatigue, stress, and low libido. Middle-aged women who have hormonal issues or stress issues will also benefit from tongkat ali. Apart from these, athletes who train hard, people suffering from chronic or moderate stress and low libido can take tongkat ali in regulated dosage to see the difference.
If taken in regular and standardized dosage, tongkat ali doesn’t show any major side effects, but doctors have noted some very mild negative effects such as restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety. Increased body temperature and aggressiveness were also noted sometimes. These areas are yet to be confirmed as very few researches have been conducted on this.
Herbal plants are a blessing to humankind. Allopathy and modern medical technologies are not always safe and risk-free, but herbal medications always come with the utmost help with the least amount of major side effects. We should rely on these underrated friends more to stay healthy and have an improved life everyday.