Tongkat Ali vs Tribulus: These two popular natural supplements are believed to boost testosterone levels, improve sexual function and libido. But do they work? Which one is better? Here, we’ll explain all you need to know.

What is Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat Ali is scientifically known as Eurycoma Longifolia. This flowering shrubby tree is mainly found in the SouthEast Asian countries of Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

In SouthEast Asian folk medicine, Tongkat Ali was widely used.  The root extract was usually drunk as a tonic to treat a whole range of ailments. Traditionally, Tongkat Ali was used as a treatment for sexual dysfunction and fever. 

Nowadays, the root extract of Tongkat Ali is usually taken in capsule form as a supplement. However, the root extract is also sometimes available as a tea or in powder form.

What is Tribulus?

Tribulus Terrestris is a small plant that’s indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Tribulus Terrestris is also commonly called the puncture vine.

This plant has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine and in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The root and fruit of Tribulus Terrestris are used in both these systems of medicine. 

In traditional medicine, Tribulus Terrestris is a popular treatment. It’s used for increasing libido, improving the health of the urinary tract, and to improve sexual function.

These days, Tribulus is sold as a supplement in its own right as well as combined with other ingredients in supplements for general health. 

Potential Benefits of Tongkat Ali and Tribulus

Tongkat Ali Benefits

Tongkat Ali is well-known in Asia as a folk medicine, mainly used for its aphrodisiac effects. However, root extracts of the plant are also used in treatment for a huge range of other conditions, and to provide health benefits, these include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Raise testosterone levels
  • Malaria
  • Fever
  • Aging
  • Increase libido
  • Increase stamina
  • Increase strength
  • Increase energy levels
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Glandular swelling
  • Reduce stress
  • Osteoporosis
  • Syphilis
  • Stimulate appetite

Tribulus Benefits

Tribulus also has a long history of use in traditional medicines as a treatment for enhancing libido. But, this herbal medicine is also used in the treatment of an array of health concerns and for general wellness. Tribulus Terrestris is used for various health benefits and in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Increase libido
  • Raise testosterone levels
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Increase stamina
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Reduce blood sugar levels
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hypertension
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Urinary tract health 

Scientific Evidence and Research

We’ve seen the potential benefits of both Tongkat Ali and Tribulus. But is there scientific evidence to back up these claims? Keep reading as we examine the research:

Erectile Dysfunction

Tongkat Ali

Research conducted in 2015 showed that Tongkat Ali can have a positive effect on erectile dysfunction. The study involved 139 participants, who were given Tongkat Ali root water extract. 

The results were measured using the international index of erectile function

The researchers concluded that Tongkat Ali herbal extract may have a positive clinical effect on erectile dysfunction. Based on their results, the researchers recommended that using Tongkat Ali as a method of treating erectile dysfunction merits further research.


Studies examining the effect of Tribulus on erectile dysfunction produce mixed results. One study found no difference in erectile function in both men that had taken 800 mg Tribulus supplements and those that had taken a placebo.

Research where participants were given 1500 mg Tribulus supplement found that significant improvements were made to both erectile dysfunction and sexual satisfaction. 

Elevated Testosterone Levels

Tongkat Ali

A study conducted in 2012 examined the testosterone levels in 76 older men with low testosterone. After taking a 200 mg Tongkat Ali supplement every day for a month, researchers found that the men’s testosterone levels increased in 90% of the study’s participants.


Current research suggests that Tribulus does not increase testosterone levels. A review which examined the results of 12 major studies into the relationship between Tribulus and testosterone found that taking Tribulus did not elevate testosterone production in humans.

While research indicates that Tribulus may not increase testosterone in humans, the results are different for animals. Researchers found that Tribulus can elevate testosterone levels in some animals.

Increased Libido

Tongkat Ali

One of the most well-known perceived benefits of Tongkat Ali is its aphrodisiac properties. But how does this herbal supplement increase libido? Research suggests that Tongkat Ali may increase libido and improve sexual function as it boosts testosterone levels. Boosting testosterone to normal levels along with Tongkat Ali’s perceived anti-anxiety effects could explain why libido is improved.


As we’ve seen, studies indicate that Tribulus does not increase testosterone levels. However, it may still increase libido. When Tribulus was taken for two months at a dose of 750 mg – 1500 mg, men with reduced sex drives increased their libido by 79%.

Further Potential Health Benefits:

Tongkat Ali

A small study conducted in 2019 tested younger men on a resistance training program. The study found that those who had taken Tongkat Ali showed significant improvements in their peak performance.


Research suggests that Tribulus may be effective at lowering both blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. The study found that saponin from Tribulus Terrestris reduced both serum glucose and serum cholesterol in mice.

Potential Side Effects

Understanding potential side effects of medication is always vital. These herbal supplements are generally safe to use. However, you should ensure you buy them from a reputable supplier. 

It’s also vital to use the supplements as directed. Be aware that some herbal supplements can interact with other medications. So, be sure to check for contraindications before you combine your supplements with other medication.

Being aware of possible side effects is helpful before taking the supplements. Here’s some of the potential side effects of Tongkat Ali and Tribulus:

Tongkat Ali Side Effects

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Increase in heart rate

Tribulus Side Effects

  • Insomnia
  • Irregular periods
  • Upset stomach
  • May cause fetal abnormalities in pregnancy
  • Can cause changes in hormones that impact men with prostate cancer
  • Can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low in people diabetes

Tongkat Ali or Tribulus: Which One is Right For You?

Both Tongkat Ali and Tribulus are popular herbal supplements. But, which one is right for you? Take a look at this checklist to help you decide:

What benefits matter most to you?

As you’ve seen, both Tongkat Ali and Tribulus have benefits. However, research shows that the two herbal supplements can deliver different potential health benefits.

To decide which one you should use, you need to consider which benefits matter the most to you. What do you most want to gain from taking the supplements?

Do you have existing health conditions?

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant, it is best to avoid taking these supplements. Tribulus has been linked to problems with fetal development in research carried out on sheep. 

Are you taking other medicines?

Both Tribulus and Tongkat Ali have been known to interact with other medicines. In particular, it has been reported that Tribulus can interact with heart and blood pressure medication. These medications include beta blockers, some blood thinners, and ACE inhibitors. 

To be safe, it’s always best to always consult with your doctor before you take any supplements.

Key Summary:

What Does Tongkat Ali Do?

  • Tongkat Ali has long been used as a herbal extract supplement to treat a range of conditions, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. 
  • Tongkat Ali is believed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
  • Studies show that Tongkat Ali may help to treat erectile dysfunction in males.
  • Research found that Tongkat Ali helped to increase testosterone to normal levels when daily 200mg supplements were taken for one month.
  • Tongkat Ali has been shown to increase muscular strength and power.

What Does Tribulus Do?

  • Tribulus has long been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Tribulus is believed to boost testosterone levels and improve erectile dysfunction.
  • Research shows that Tribulus may not boost testosterone levels in humans. However, studies show that it may be effective at boosting testosterone in animals.
  • Research into the effect of Tribulus on erectile dysfunction have delivered mixed results. With one study finding no difference between taking Tribulus and taking a placebo.
  • Studies show that Tribulus may be effective at reducing blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
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.