What is Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat Ali, which is also commonly referred to as Long Jack or Malaysian ginseng, is an herbal supplement derived from the roots of the Eurycoma longifolia tree shrub. Tongkat Ali has been used in traditional Southeast medicine to treat ailments including fevers, erectile dysfunction, and bacterial infections for centuries.

Tongkat Ali supplements are now used for a range of applications, including as an aphrodisiac, to boost energy levels, and to improve sleep quality. Tongkat Ali is also sometimes used for muscle building and improvements in sporting performance. 

Potential Benefits

While research is ongoing, studies have revealed a range of potential health benefits when Tongkat Ali is taken daily for a month or longer. The most notable and well-researched potential health benefits include – 

  • Testosterone increases: Tongkat Ali may increase testosterone, which can result in muscle growth, higher energy levels, and improved sleep quality. Studies have especially centered around control groups of males experiencing low testosterone levels.  Up to 90% of participants had normal testosterone levels by the end of the trial.
  • Stress relief: Tongkat Ali may decrease anxiety and improve mood by lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. This link was initially found in mice, but a human study also revealed a 16% reduction in cortisol across participant saliva samples. 
  • Body composition: Tongkat Ali could boost athletic performance and increase muscle mass. This is thanks to both testosterone increases and the prevalence of quassinoid compounds that are thought to improve physical performance. 

Potential Side Effects

Tongkat Ali is generally safe to take in recommended doses that tend to range between 200-300 mg daily. However, some users have reported potential side effects, which include – 

  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Hypertension
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks

Studies have also revealed that high doses (2,000 mg) can damage the DNA of stomach and duodenum tissues. 

When to Seek Alternatives

If an individual is experiencing any of the side effects listed above, they should stop taking Tongkat Ali immediately, and seek the advice of a healthcare professional. They may then choose to take an alternative supplement in the future. 

Various Tongkat Ali supplements including capsules, pills, and oil extract on a neutral background.

For health reasons, experts also recommend that certain individuals avoid taking Tongkat Ali. In this instance, an alternative supplement is preferable. Such individuals may include – 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children
  • Anyone with a suppressed immune system
  • People at risk of hormone-sensitive cancers (breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.)
  • Anyone with a history of heart or kidney disease
  • Individuals with liver problems

Tongkat Ali Alternatives

Fadogia Agrestis

Fadogia Agrestis, or ‘the aphrodisiac herb’ is a shrub species that’s typically found in West Africa. Fadogia Agrestis supplements have a rich history of use in African medicine for the treatment of various conditions.

Fadogia Agrestis

It’s thought that the health benefits of Fadogia Agrestis are a result of alkaloids, flavonoids, and saponins found within the plant. It’s been demonstrated that these substances have anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumor properties. Experts believe they may also boost libido and sexual function by increasing blood testosterone levels.

Benefits of Fadogia Agrestis

Fadogia Agrestis offers multiple potential health benefits, many of which are similar to those of Tongkat Ali, such as – 

  • Aphrodisiac properties: Fadogia Agrestis is best known for its potential aphrodisiac properties. One rodent study revealed a six-fold increase in testosterone after consumption of Fadogia Agrestis, which significantly increased libido. Another rodent study revealed an 11-15% increase in testicular weight after use in rates, which fits with an increased sperm rate. 
  • Oxidative stress reduction: Antioxidants found in Fadogia Agrestis may protect the body against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress has been linked to chronic health conditions including heart disease and cancer. 
  • Athletic performance: Limited studies suggest that Fadogia Agrestis may enhance athletic performance and muscle growth. This is thanks to increased testosterone levels, higher energy levels, and a possible reduction in muscle soreness/healing time. 

Potential Side Effects

Fadogia Agrestis is generally considered safe when used as directed in doses of less than 600 mg. However, some users do report potential side effects that include – 

  • Swelling and damage to the vocal cords
  • High blood pressure and heart rate when used in high doses
  • Inflammation of kidneys and death of liver tissue, especially after 40 days of use

Fadogia Agrestis vs. Tongkat Ali

Fadogia Agrestis and Tongkat Ali offer many of the same benefits, particularly surrounding testosterone increases and improved energy levels. In most cases, however, the results of Tongkat Ali are best seen over extended periods. 

By comparison, experts recommend that individuals don’t use Fadogia Agrestis for any more than 40 days, with most effects visible within a few doses. As such, Fadogia Agrestis may be a good alternative for individuals seeking immediate health improvements, including increased sexual function, and muscle growth. 


Shilajit, which is also referred to as ‘Mumijo’ or ‘Rock sweat’ is a natural resin-like substance with a long history in Ayurvedic medicine. Shilajit forms from the decomposition of plants and minerals in the Himalayan mountains. 

Traditionally, Shilajit has been used for benefits that include increased energy levels and improved brain function. This is because of antioxidants found within the sticky substance, which are believed to have a positive effect on overall health and well-being. 

Studies have revealed that Shilajit may also be an effective treatment for conditions including Alzheimer’s, low testosterone, and chronic fatigue.

Potential health benefits of Shilajit

  • Energy and stamina: Experts believe that Shilajit may boost stamina and energy levels by improving the function of the mitochondria. Studies even found that increased energy levels after taking Shilajit may reduce the symptoms of chronic fatigue, as seen in rats. 
  • Increased testosterone: A study into male testosterone levels revealed that Shilajit can significantly increase testosterone production when taken over 90 days. As with Tonkat Ali, this improves everything from energy levels to sexual function.
  • Improved heart health: Various studies have also highlighted a link between the antioxidants found in Shilajit and improved heart health. This is thanks to reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol, as identified in various studies. 

Potential Side Effects

Shilajit is considered a safe herb when properly prepared. However, the consumption of raw or unprocessed Shilajit, which is often high in heavy metal ions, can lead to nausea and sickness.

Side effects that some individuals have also reported after taking high doses of Shilajit include –

  • Skin rashes, hives, and itching
  • Digestive issues
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate

Experts generally recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid taking Shilajit. Individuals with conditions like sickle cell anemia and hemochromatosis should also avoid Shilajit due to potential blood changes. 

Shilajit vs Tongkat Ali

Both Shilajit and Tongkat Ali offer benefits that include testosterone increases and improved energy levels. However, studies also link Shilajit to conditions that include chronic fatigue and Alzheimer’s. As such, this may be a great alternative for individuals dealing with specific health complaints.

Panax Ginseng

Panax Ginseng, also sometimes known as Korean Ginseng, is a herb that grows in Korea, China, and Siberia. Panax Ginseng is an adaptogen, which is believed to stimulate the body’s resistance to stressors when it’s consumed in supplement form. 

Close-up of Panax Ginseng roots, commonly known as Korean Ginseng, a tongkat ali alternative

Panax Ginseng is commonly taken by mouth to treat conditions that include cholesterol, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s. While more studies are required, experts believe that the active Ginsenosides found in Panax Ginseng may help with general well-being, glucose levels, and more. 

Potential Health Benefits of Panax Ginseng

Studies into the full health benefits of Panax Ginseng are ongoing, but experts believe that potential benefits may include – 

  • Sexual function: Studies in rodents reveal that Panax Ginseng can improve sexual function in mice by increasing testosterone levels. Experts believe that extended use of Panax Ginseng may also increase sperm count and motility.
  • Lower cholesterol: Panax Ginseng may lower cholesterol in some individuals, though studies are inconclusive. However, some studies revealed blood pressure reductions in individuals who have taken Panax Ginseng compared to a placebo.

Potential Side Effects

The most common side effect reported by users of Panax Ginseng is insomnia. Other side effects experienced by some users include –

Children and pregnant or nursing women should avoid Panax Ginseng. Experts also don’t recommend taking Panax Ginseng if you’re on medications that include blood thinners or Insulin.

Panax Ginseng vs Tongkat Ali

Studies are ongoing into the full benefits of Panax Ginseng. However, existing evidence reveals that Panax Ginseng may offer potential benefits similar to those of Tongkat Ali. The most notable of these include increased sexual function and improved overall health. Panax Ginseng is, therefore, a great alternative to Tongkat Ali

SupplementBenefitsIdeal for…
Tongkat AliIncreased testosteroneStress reliefImproved body compositionLong-term energy boosts, and ongoing improvements to things like sexual performance and sleep quality
Fadogia AgrestisAphrodisiac propertiesReduced oxidative stressImproved athletic performanceShort-term physical improvements, muscle building, and sexual performance
ShilajitImproved heart healthBoosted energyIncreased testosteroneHerbal help for conditions like Alzheimer’s and Chronic Fatigue
Panax GinsengImproved sexual functionLower cholesterolResistance to everyday stressIndividuals looking for long-term wellness, sexual function, and health

Summary: Tongkat Ali alternatives

  • Individuals should stop taking Tognkat Ali immediately if they experience side effects
  • Alternatives include testosterone-boosting supplements such as Fadogia Agrestis, Shilajit, and Panax Ginseng
  • Speaking to your healthcare provider is the best way to find the right alternative
Adil Maqbool, Medical MD

Adil Maqbool, Medical MD

Dr. Adil is a seasoned medical writer, researcher, and physician with extensive publications in top medical journals. Holding an MBBS, BSc, and FCPS-1, he excels in medical writing and patient care. Certified as a Registered Practitioner, Medical Writer, and Peer-Reviewer, he stays current with the latest medical advancements.