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Does Tongkat Ali really increase testosterone, and what should you know before trying it? According to research, Tongkat Ali can potentially increase testosterone, but there are some things to remember and be cautious about before you try this popular supplement.
What is Tongkat Ali?
While Tongkat Ali has risen to popularity recently, it’s been long used in ancient traditional medicine.
A few things to know about Tongkat Ali include:
- It’s been used in Southeast Asian medicine for centuries
- Tongkat Ali is used traditionally to treat infections, erectile dysfunction, and fever, among other conditions
- Studies show that Tongkat Ali might improve male fertility and relieve stress
- Some people use Tongkat Ali as a workout supplement to enhance muscle mass and composition
The herbal supplement comes from a tree native to Southeast Asia—Eurycoma longifolia. The supplement is actually from the roots of the tree.
The reason for potential health benefits is likely because Tongkat Ali has plant compounds such as alkaloids and flavonoids.
Does Tongkat Ali Really Increase Testosterone?
There’s still research that needs to be done, but based on what’s currently available, Tongkat Ali can increase testosterone, potentially. Low testosterone can result from many factors, including medication, chemotherapy, injury, and certain diseases.
When a man has low testosterone levels, it can lead to erectile dysfunction and low libido. Sometimes, men with low testosterone will also experience male infertility.
Since Tongkat Ali has compounds that could raise testosterone, it could potentially help with the related issues low testosterone can create.
A few studies have found benefits of Tongkat Ali for testosterone, including:
- In a study of 76 older men, taking 200 mg of Tongkat extract a day for a month significantly increased testosterone levels. More than 90% of participants had normal testosterone levels at the end of the study.
- In a study of 63 people, including 32 men and 31 women, with high stress levels, there were significant improvements in tension and anger. Their stress hormones, including cortisol and testosterone, were significantly improved by supplementing with Tongkat Ali. There was around a 16% reduction in cortisol on average, and testosterone status increased by an average of 37%.
- In animal and human studies, Tongkat Ali has improved sexual arousal and erectile dysfunction.
- For men with infertility in couples, taking 200 mg of Tongkat Ali extract improved sperm concentration and motility.
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So how does Tongkat Ali work to raise testosterone levels?
The testosterone-boosting effects of the supplement seem to come not from the stimulation of testosterone synthesis but because compounds can increase the release rate of free testosterone from its binding hormone. The binding hormone is sex-hormone-binding-globulin or SHBG. This means that the supplement isn’t necessarily a testosterone booster in the way you’d think about usually but helps maintain normal testosterone levels and restore them.
That makes the supplement especially beneficial for someone with below-normal testosterone levels, someone who wants to lose weight, middle-aged people who are dealing with symptoms of depression or fatigue because of low testosterone, or athletes who train intensely and could otherwise be at risk of overtraining.
Other Benefits of Tongkat Ali
So yes, Tongkat Ali can increase testosterone, according to research. Other benefits of the herbal supplement include:
- Stress relief could lower stress hormones, improve mood, and reduce anxiety. For example, in one of the studies cited above, participants supplementing with 200 mg of Tongkat Ali daily reduced cortisol levels in their saliva by 16%.
- Better body composition—one of the most common reasons people take this supplement is to increase muscle mass and athletic performance. Tongkat Ali contains quassinoids which help reduce fatigue and improve endurance. In a small study of men doing strength training, adding this supplement led to significantly more significant lean body mass increases than the ones taking a placebo.
- Anticancer benefits: researchers are currently looking at the possible anticancer benefits of this supplement. There are compounds that, so far, in test tube studies, have been toxic to cervical and lung cancer cells. In other studies, anticancer properties have been found against prostate cancer cells.
- Bone health: In a review from 2018, there was evidence that Tongkat Ali could help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.
How To Take Tongkat Ali for Testosterone
Most studies look at Tongkat Ali doses ranging from 200 to 400 mg a day, up to 500 mg. You want to be careful with your dosages because dose-dependent toxicity can occur.
Some people feel it’s best to take Tongkat Ali in the morning with some food, and you might want to cycle on and off it for the maximum effects. That might mean, for example, taking Tongkat Ali for 8-12 weeks and then taking a few weeks off.
If you want to stack something with Tongkat Ali, some good options include ashwagandha and fadogia agrestis. Both of these are herbal supplements that can have positive effects on testosterone, mood, and mental well-being.
Is Tongkat Ali Safe?
Tongkat Ali is likely safe if you stick to doses of around 200 to 400 mg per day as a healthy adult. There are reports of very high doses causing damage to the DNA of the gastrointestinal system, and it could cause liver damage at very high doses, although this isn’t confirmed.
In an animal study with mice, there weren’t any adverse effects on liver or kidney function when given a dose of 200 mg per kg of body weight or 300 mg/kg. There were negative effects when mice were given 1,500-3,000 mg/kg of body weight.
Should You Try Tongkat Ali to Increase Your Testosterone?
Does Tongkat Ali really increase testosterone? According to the currently available research, it might have substantial benefits for testosterone, libido, and male infertility. Whether or not you should take it depends on your health, other medications, and what your healthcare provider says. If you try the supplement, follow the manufacturer’s dosage instructions carefully.