Tongkat Ali: Much More Than "The Original Indonesian Aphrodisiac"
Over the years—through our website and through Amazon—our Tongkat Ali Extract Capsules are consistently a top selling product.
And for good reason: Not only is Tongkat Ali an outstanding Pro-Androgenic herb, but the Tongkat Ali that goes into our products (either our bulk powder pouches or our extract capsules) is always of the highest quality and integrity.
We've long been proponents of using a broad, full spectrum Tongkat Ali Extract. This is because Tongkat Ali is much more than "The Original Indonesian Aphrodisiac."
There are roughly 65 identified therapeutic compounds present in Tongkat Ali, not just the single isolate of Eurycomanone, that compound which is understood to responsible for Tongkat Ali's pro-androgenic, testosterone promoting properties.
Focusing solely on whether or not Tongkat Ali can increase testosterone and focusing solely on Eurycomanone sells Tongkat Ali short. The herb has much more potential than simple as a pro-androgenic. Additionally, targeting a single compound in a plant shows a lack of sophisticated understanding around herbal medicine: All the compounds work in synergy and in harmony. This is one of the reasons why herbal medicine can excel where conventional medicine can't.
What are the Benefits of Tongkat Ali?
As a tonic, adaptogenic, and pro-androgenic medicinal plant, when we combine the traditional uses, the contemporary uses, and what has been discovered in the laboratory, Tongkat Ali has a far reaching range of possible and/or promising benefits, including the following:
- Anti-inflammatory properties;
- Antiamoebic, specifically targeting tropical diseases;
- Increased dopamine (the desire and motivation neurotransmitter);
- Enhanced libido and desire—aphrodisiac;
- Healthy stress responses (adaptogenic) and stress management;
- Improved blood flow;
- Lean muscle mass, including physical strength and energy;
- Male reproductive health, including prostate health;
- Promoting cognitive function;
- Support the body's own (endogenous) production of the male sex, androgenic hormones, including Testosterone;
- Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack) has demonstrated anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties, including beneficial actions against prostate cancer cells (let it be extremely clear, RAW Forest Foods is not claiming that Tongkat Ali—or any product—is a cure for cancer).*
The wide range of potential here speaks to the importance of using a full spectrum Tongkat Ali extract, as can be found both in our Tongkat Ali Extract Capsules and our Tongkat Ali Bulk Extract Powder.
Tongkat Ali, Eurycomanone, and Testosterone
Now, with the above said, we recognize that the majority of people using Tongkat Ali are using it to heal low testosterone levels and and to increase testosterone production. And we are in full support of this use.
The major quassinoid compound present in Tongkat Ali is named Eurycomanone, and this is the compound that has been identified for Tongkat Ali's ability to increase testosterone levels.
To provide our family of customers with the highest level of effectiveness, we have taken our full spectrum Tongkat Ali Extract and have combined it at a 1:1, equal part ratio with a highly purified isolated Eurycomanone extract.
This combination allows Tongkat Ali to excel both as a tonic and adaptogenic herb and allows us to target the pro-androgenic properties of it. Think of it as the best of both worlds. Think of it as the RAW Forest Foods difference.
Two Therapeutic, Pro-Androgenic Properties
In the past, we have written extensively about the way Tongkat Ali increases testosterone production by stimulating the Hypothalamus - Pituitary - Adrenal/Gonadal Axis, and while the exact method of action (MOA) is currently unknown, we have hypothesized that this is happening at the hypothalamus, which in turn signals the releasing of stimulatory factors until, finally, testosterone production is increased in the testes (the gonads), a method of action increasingly similar to the pharmaceutical drug clomiphene citrate.
And this is still how, based on the research, we believe Tongkat Ali to promote testosterone production.
That is one of the therapeutic, pro-androgenic properties of Tongkat ali.
When looking specifically at Eurycomanone, a second therapeutic, pro-androgenic property of Tongkat Ali comes into focus.
Research (cited on the product page for our Tongkat Ali Extract Capsules) reveals that in addition to increasing testosterone production, Eurycomanone actually decreases the conversion of testosterone to estradiol, a metabolite of estrogen.
Testosterone is converted into estradiol through a processes called aromatization. It is called that because an enzyme named aromatase is involved in the process. It is a win-win to block aromatization, as this both decreases estradiol (too much estradiol has the effect of low testosterone) and it increases the relative levels of free testosterone (free testosterone is active testosterone).
What this means, practically speaking, is that Tongkat ali may help control the increase in estradiol (estrogen) which all too often accompanies increased testosterone levels.
This additional therapeutic property of Tongkat ali is incredibly exciting. It may be a little dorky to get so excited over the science behind medicinal herbs, but this discovery further cements Tongkat Ali as such an important and unique pro-androgenic herb.
Tongkat Ali and Dopamine
I’ve long said that the influence of testosterone on libido is only one (small) piece of the puzzle. I’ve also long said that we should stop thinking about libido in isolation and begin to see it as a subset of desire. It is a type of desire—not in a category all on its own.
Is it of any surprise to anyone that a loss of interest in sex (libido) is common among people experiencing depression? We see depression hallmarked by a loss of desire and motivation. A loss of libido—an interest in sex—is part of this.
While serotonin (the “happiness” neurotransmitter”) receives the brunt of popular attention with pharmaceutical approaches to managing depression—side note, the serotonin - depression hypothesis is tenuous—much of that attention is due solely to the popularity of a class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Loss of interest in sex—libido—is a common side effect of the drugs.
Another drug in treating depression has become prevalent in the past few years. This one works on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine can be thought of as the motivation or desire neurotransmitter. Dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter. It is what makes us motivated to pursuit a goal and what makes achieving that goal feel so good. The drug used to increase dopamine in the management of depression is called bupropion.
A common side effect of bupropion is increased libido.
Does Tongkat Ali Increase Dopamine?
In countess academic papers, we can see the data that Tongkat Ali increases sexual desire. Most of this research, like almost all research of the type, is done using animal models. There is a subsequent body of research done into the effects of Tongkat Ali on testosterone production and testosterone levels, and there is new (2019) research into the relationship between Tongkat Ali and dopamine.
In the publication of the research, we see a reiteration what we already know about Tongkat Ali:
E. longifolia is famously known for its aphrodisiac effect, which is due to its ability to stimulate the production or action of androgen hormones, especially testosterone. Clinical and experimental studies indicate additional pharmacological activities of E. longifolia. The plant was shown to enhance immunity, improve quality of life and mood, protect against osteoporosis, and prevent obesity.
And then we learn something new: We learn that administration of Tongkat Ali increased dopamine levels. This is still new research (again, it was only published in 2019), but the results are compelling, and give increased credence to viewing Tongkat Ali less as a Pro-Androgenic and more as an adaptogen with strong Pro-Androgenic qualities.
Tongkat Ali Extract Capsules
For now, our Tongkat Ali Extract Capsules are only available through our website. And it's not just the product that is new, the product page for them has been thoroughly revised to represent the most current science and understanding of the therapeutic pro-androgenic properties of the plant.
And let us know what you think, we love your feedback!