The Truth about Tongkat Ali Coffee (and Why It Doesn’t Work)

How Does Tongkat Ali Coffee Compare to Powders and Extracts?

The herbal supplement tongkat ali was recently shown on the Dr. Oz show, which the guest used to make tongkat ali coffee. It’s exciting to see such a remarkable, yet obscure herb get mainstream coverage like this.

As mentioned on the show, the properties of tongkat ali in boosting your sex drive have been clinically proven, as well as its ability to increase erectile function, increase testosterone levels, and a variety of other wonderful effects. These things are all well documented facts about tongkat ali root extract.

The show’s guest proceeded to make cups of his company’s tongkat ali coffee mix, described as “delicious.” This raised some alarm bells for me, and I’d like to explain some things about tongkat ali so that readers might understand why. Here’s the problem…

Tongkat Ali Coffee Doesn’t Work!

Tongkat ali extract is extremely bitter and unpalatable. Even a small useful quantity of the substance would make for an entirely undrinkable beverage. You could season and spice it all you like, but the overwhelming rancid/bitter flavor will show through.

You could never use this to fashion a “delicious” drink, in any way. The Gano Excel coffee probably contains tongkat ali, but the high potency extract, needed to achieve the herb’s wonderful effects, is likely not present, certainly not in any useful amount.

There have been traditional teas made from tongkat ali, for medicinal use. However, the varieties with any potency all share the common problem that the flavor is horrible. This would usually be overlooked as one expects a medicinal elixir to taste foul. Luckily, modern extraction methods let us bypass the flavor problem. But before we get to the extract, let’s also take a look at the powder.

Tongkat Ali Powder Doesn’t Work!

Tongkat ali extract does work amazingly well. It’s important to distinguish it from the root powder, occasionally offered by disreputable companies. As you might imagine, the root powder (which hasn’t undergone extraction) contains only trace quantities of the desired compounds, and as such has no significant effect. MIT has been conducting continuous studies into the plant [1], and among their findings have stated that the bioactive compounds make up less than 0.005% – a very miniscule amount, indeed.

Powders from the plant just aren’t potent enough to be of use for promoting health, you’d have to consume huge quantities to get even the slightest effect. That hasn’t stopped some companies from trying to cash in, and sell plain powder to unsuspecting customers.

Tongkat Ali Extract Really Works!*

Luckily for us, we can use extraction techniques to solve the potency problem, and be left with high powered extract in the end. We know that root of the tongkat ali plant is where all the active ingredients are present, though they exist only in very miniscule quantities. As a result, it’s necessary to fashion an extract from the roots. Traditionally, this is done by boiling down 50 grams of the root until you’re left with a small, concentrated, acrid tea.

In modern distribution, the extract is powdered and placed in pills so that it can easily be administered without the horrible taste being a problem. A similar reduction of 50 grams of root to 1 gram of extract powder is considered a 1:50 strength extract. Higher extraction ratios produce more potent results, some products offering ratios of up to 1:200.

I want to point out that some companies sell “Tongkat ali extract” without specifying the extraction ratio. Whatever you do, avoid these! Many times they will use weak extraction ratios such as 4:1 or even 2:1 in order to make more profit off a product so weak that it’s useless. Only choose brands which specify their extraction ratio, and aim for higher extraction ratios to be assured of potency.

All Extract is not Created Equal – What You Need to Know

So now we know that the extract is what we’re interested in… but not so fast! There’s another problem. Tongkat ali is a tree, and like any plant, the health of the plant and it’s environment have a huge influence over its development.

Tongkat ali is native to only a few parts of Southeast Asia. The rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia are its primary environment. In Malaysia, the supply of the plant has dwindled so low that it’s now an endangered plant, protected and illegal to harvest. To make matters worse, Malaysian tongkat ali has been shown to contain a high quantity of lead – from 10.64 in some tests[2] all the way up to 20.72 ppm. That’s over 200x the 0.08ppm (almost non-existent) lead content of Indonesian tongkat ali.

Indonesia allows the harvest of tongkat ali, where the plant still thrives in the wild. There are even special plantations set up to grow the trees. The roots only really develop potency with age, so the best of these plantations allow the trees to mature and age 10 years or more, before harvesting begins.

As a result, Indonesian tongkat ali is a safer, more carefully grown product. Malaysian tongkat ali is not only illegal to harvest, but it’s lead content makes it largely unfit to consume.* When seeking tongkat ali, it’s important for your results, as well as your health, to choose Indonesian tongkat ali which has been allowed to age before harvesting.

How to Find High Quality Extract

With more and more studies showing the effectiveness of tongkat ali, many companies are trying to cash in. Some sell the root powder (instead of the root extract) to trick unsuspecting customers. Others add small doses of the powder to all sorts of products, to promote them as fortified with tongkat ali, similar to the multitude “with added ginseng” products that only contain small amounts of ginseng. The doses are so small as to have no effect, but it looks great for marketing. Others still try to sell inferior (and often illegal) Malaysian tongkat ali.

Of course, there are also some reputable companies offering actual high quality tongkat ali supplements. The brand I choose to use is SD-200, with a high potency of 1:200, using very pure and potent sources of tongkat ali root, grown and aged in Indonesia. Currently, they are the world’s premium tongkat ali company.

Another company I’ve had good dealings with in the past is Indonesia Tongkat Ali, offering various potencies extracted from pure sources.

Final Thoughts

There’s quite a bit to keep in mind when first selecting a tongkat ali supplement, but if you keep in mind these key points, you should be fine:

  • Tongkat ali isn’t potent until it’s active ingredients have been distilled into a high potency extraction.
  • Avoid tongkat ali powder, it’s too weak to have any effect.
  • Extracts which don’t specify their extraction ratio (such as 200:1, or 50:1) should be avoided, as you don’t know what potency you’ll be receiving.
  • Tongkat ali extract tastes awful, which is why it’s neatly packaged in pills, so you don’t have to taste it.
  • Because of the awful flavor, be wary of any products such as tongkat ali coffees, teas, or snacks claiming to contain the herb. If they had sufficient doses, they wouldn’t be palatable.
  • Avoid tongkat ali from Malaysia, where harvesting it is illegal and the plants contain high lead content.
  • Seek tongkat ali extract from Indonesia, from sources which allow their plants to age 10 years or more.

With a quality source and high potency, tongkat ali extract can have wonderful effects. After considering the extraction process, as well as the bitter and acrid flavor of the extract, it’s obvious that tongkat ali coffee simply can’t contain enough active compounds to compare.

[1] http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2003/plants.html
[2] Ang HH, Lee EL, Matsumoto K. “Analysis of lead content in herbal preparations in Malaysia.” Hum Exp Toxicol . 2003;22:445-451 http://het.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/8/445

*Disclaimer: Your results may vary. Natural Tongkat Ali has worked for many of our happy customers. However, as with all supplements, individual customer results are dependent on many factors, and may vary greatly.

Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplement program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any mediation without first consulting your physician.

What is Tongkat Ali? – It’s Nature’s Natural Testosterone Booster

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  in much of the region, being used to alleviate everything from headaches to ulcers, and is often considered an aphrodisiac as well.

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 [5]. 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

[1] 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
[2] 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
[3] Tee TT, & Azimahtol HL. (2005). “Induction of apoptosis by Eurycoma longifolia jack extracts” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16158965
[4] Hamzah S, Yusof A (2003). “The Ergogenic Effects of Eurycoma Longifolia Jack: A Pilot Study”. British Journal of Sports Medicine 37: 464–70
[5] 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

 

*Disclaimer: Your results may vary. Natural Tongkat Ali has worked for many of our happy customers. However, as with all supplements, individual customer results are dependent on many factors, and may vary greatly.

Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplement program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any mediation without first consulting your physician.

What is Andropause and how does it undermine your health

Growing old gracefully… it’s a romantic notion, but as we age, each little bump along the way can seriously begin to take the “grace” out of the equation. As we all know, women go through menopause, as their bodies stop producing a variety of hormones, and their reproductive systems shut down.

Men, on the other hand, have a less sudden decline into what’s known as “andropause.” Gradually the body’s endocrine system produces lower levels of hormones like testosterone, beginning in the mid 30’s and becoming more pronounced with each passing year. Other factors, including stress or poor diet can accelerate this process.  For example, every point over 25 on the body mass index, your testosterone production drops 3%[1]. That’s a pretty big drop!

Without a sudden onset like menopause, many of us disregard the symptoms as just being another part of aging. However, accepting its symptoms as a natural part of aging is akin to just giving up, something I’m just not willing to do. As each of these adverse effects set in, the quality of your life decreases as a whole. There’s nothing vein or selfish about wanting to live a happy, fulfilling life.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism[2]  found that roughly 25% of American men over 30 may have low testosterone levels. While doctors debate if andropause is a condition itself, or just a collection of age-related symptoms, it’s agreed upon that this slowing of testosterone production is the cause. Production begins to slow from around age 30 on, dropping by 1% each year in average, healthy patients. In many men, this decrease is even more pronounced, as health conditions, diet, and genetic factors come into play.

Symptoms of Andropause, and Its Negative Effects

The problems this lowering of testosterone levels can cause are well documented and life changing. A decrease in muscle growth and increased fat accumulation are one problem liked to it. This sets your body on a downhill course, and to make matters worse, lowered testosterone levels are also linked with a lack of energy or even depression, making it harder to overcome the physical aspects of the condition. Remember what I said about high body mass decreasing testosterone? That beer gut can end up creating a bit of a vicious cycle…

A lowered libido and potential sexual dysfunction or reduced sexual performance can impact your emotional state drastically. Your mental state can suffer as well. Lower testosterone levels are linked to a decline in memory, mental acuity, and insomnia.

The effects of all this on the body and mind cannot be overstated enough. In the long term, the effects of low testosterone levels have been linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and chronic heart failure.

Methods of Dealing with the Symptoms

The symptoms themselves can be treated, but that ignores the underlying cause. You could fill your medicine cabinet with medications for erectile dysfunction, mood, fatigue, and so forth, without ever really getting to the root of the matter. Not to mention that you’ll be picking and choosing among a laundry list of side effects from this pharmacopeia of band-aid fixes.

Rather than treating the symptoms, wouldn’t it be better to look at options for counteracting the problem at the source?

Hormone Replacement, is it Overkill?

The most obvious of these is hormone replacement. If the body is running a bit low on hormones, just administer more of the, right? Well, not necessarily. In extreme cases this can be helpful, but it’s also fraught with problems.

Your endocrine system is a delicate machine, producing the hormones it thinks you need and not a drop more. Flooding your system with outside sources of hormones will often result in your body secreting even less, as it no longer believes it needs to create as much. The side effects of this can be almost as bad as lowered levels of the hormones.[3] Introducing large outside sources of testosterone has such effects as shrinking of the testicles, which as they are no longer needed to produce the testosterone themselves. It’s the same reason bodybuilders on anabolic steroids get that notorious shrinking effect. In addition, the sudden flood of unexpected hormone can cause problems such as mood imbalance and increased heart stress.

We’re looking for a way to feel younger, healthier, and more energetic. I don’t think adding a bunch of health risks and worries serves that purpose very well.

In extreme cases, your doctor may feel these risks are warranted. However, for the average Joe taking the slow, steady backslide into aging, this is a lot to deal with. Constant blood tests to monitor hormone levels and frequent checkups to avoid catastrophic side effects aren’t very appealing, and you’re right back to your quality of life declining again – just in different ways.

So directly adding hormones to the system is just not a great option for most of us. However, the next logical step is where we finally strike gold. The endocrine system is capable of producing the hormones, so what if we find a way to encourage it along, and make it produce higher quantities once more?

Boosting Your Body’s Own Production of Testosterone

Lucky for us, there are ways of doing just that. Solid research into a variety of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements has shown exciting results in stimulating hormone production. Leveraging the endocrine system’s ability to produce these hormones has a variety of advantages. By your body producing its own testosterone, and releasing it in the gradual doses as it normally does, it can be much gentler on your system. Because you’re not introducing hormones from an external source, effects like shrinking of the testicles aren’t an issue – on the contrary, they are producing more testosterone, and can become larger as a result.

The only problem is that supplements, especially in the domain of male virility, are a market filled with scams and snake oil. Discerning which products that will give you good, reasonable results can often be difficult, when drowned out by poor products giving outrageous claims. It’s easy to recognize pharmaceutical companies as being self-interested, pushing cures of dubious merit. It’s important to recognize that less scrupulous parts of the ‘natural’ cure market pray upon some of the same fears though. It’s all too easy to make bold claims, promising to turn you into Superman with just a few pills a day.

Scientific studies, conducted by reputable doctors, using appropriate precautions like double blinds are very important in determining the effectiveness of supplements. With thousands of potentially helpful herbs and minerals out there (not to mention potential combinations of them,) researchers are scrambling to find effective solutions to andropause. Sifting through this research can be confusing though, and leave you with more questions and uncertainty.

Examining Ways to Boost Your Own Testosterone

In the next few posts, I’m going to take a look at some supplements which have had promising results in studies, and try to distill some of the findings so that you can make informed decisions. Improving the quality of your life through well informed decisions and safely isn’t hard to do, with a little help.

In the next installment, we’ll be looking at tongkat ali, an herbal supplement that has shown good promise, and some remarkable effects in laboratory studies.

Citations

[1] W.Roudebush, M.Witt, H.Kort, J.Massey, C.Elsner, D.Mitchell-Leef “Men with High Body Mass Index Values Present with Lower Serum Testosterone Levels” Fertility and Sterility, Volume 84 http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2805%2901637-7/abstract
[2] Andre B. Araujo, Gretchen R. Esche, Varant Kupelian, Amy B. O’Donnell, Thomas G. Travison, Rachel E. Williams, Richard V. Clark and John B. McKinlay “Prevalence of Symptomatic Androgen Deficiency in Men” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92:4241-7   http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/92/11/4241
[3] Dana A. Ohl, Susanne A. Quallich “Clinical Hypogonadism and Androgen Replacement Therapy: An Overview: Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/543997_8