Tongkat Ali’s pros include boosting testosterone, sex drive, fertility, immune response, and stress levels. Cons include possible DNA damage at high doses, heavy metal contamination in some supplements, and adverse effects on hormonal cancers.

Tongkat Ali Pros

People take Tongkat Ali for numerous reasons. Most revolve around reproductive health, but the herb may offer broader benefits, as science is now discovering.

This section explores some of Tongkat Ali’s purported pros with sources for the studies mentioned in the footnotes section. As you will see, many of the benefits come from the herb’s ability to raise testosterone through various biochemical channels.

Tongkat Ali PROS

Pro: Improved Erectile Function And Sex Drive

Because Tongkat Ali raises testosterone and lowers cortisol, it is a potent aphrodisiac. A landmark 2013 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that the herb could raise the former by 37% and lower the latter by 16%. Other studies noted even more profound effects in people with low baseline testosterone.

Therefore, Tongkat Ali could improve sexual performance in men at risk of low testosterone levels, including those:

  • Over the age of 40 (testosterone declines by approximately 1% per year after this age)
  • Living with chronic alcohol dependence
  • With injuries to the scrotum, testicles, or other body parts necessary for testosterone production
  • With obstructive chronic sleep apnea

The amount of Tongkat Ali required to improve hormone function is minimal. Studies show that men taking 200 mg of the herb every day can return testosterone levels to standard levels in 90% of cases.

Pro: Improved Fertility

Tongkat Ali may also boost fertility by enhancing sperm motility. Those who ingest the herb’s supplemental form can see profound improvements in sperm quality.

Again, researchers believe these effects result from its testosterone-boosting effects. Tongkat Ali can improve semen volume and counteract late-onset hypogonadism, presumably by increasing the quantity of the circulating hormone. Furthermore, supplementation can be so effective that it eliminates the need for conventional hormone replacement therapy.

Pro: Increased Muscle Strength

Tongkat Ali can also boost muscle strength. Research shows that taking supplemental extracts can improve muscle size and contractility, enhancing performance in the gym and sports. However, why it exerts this effect is not always clear. Theories include:

  • Boosting growth-promoting testosterone, a potent anabolic hormone
  • Stimulating muscle protein synthesis and accelerating post-workout repair
  • Enhancing energy utilization due to the quassinoids the herb contains, improving cellular efficiency
  • Enhancing nitric oxide production, dilating blood vessels, and improving nutrient supplies
  • Reducing stress hormones, such as cortisol, associated with stress and muscle breakdown

Even so, Tongkat Ali is not a magic bullet. While it can improve testosterone, muscle growth still requires dedication in the gym.

Pro: Reduced Stress

Another benefit of Tongkat Ali is its ability to reduce stress and improve mood. Again, these effects likely arise from the herb’s ability to modulate cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone.

Evidence for Tongkat Ali’s relaxing effects comes from several studies published between 1999 and 2022. For example:

  • Mice given Tongkat Ali extract in 1999 saw equivalent mood improvements as a leading drug.
  • Daily administration of Tongkat Ali improved hormone profile in stressed human adults in a 2013 study.
  • A combination of Tongkat Ali with multivitamins improved stress and additional parameters of interest, including immune function and mood, in a 2018 study.
  • A small study from 2022 with 33 participants found that Tongkat Ali could moderate stress markers, such as poor sleep, offering subjective improvements in “vigor” and vitality.

Pro: Improved Body Composition

Tongkat Ali may also improve body composition through several channels besides improving muscle mass. For example, research suggests that the herb can:

  • Enhance physical performance, leading to heightened energy expenditure to improve the rate of fat loss
  • Boost the efficiency with which the body uses available energy
  • Reduce fatigue, making people more likely to go to the gym

However, findings on this benefit are mixed. Some studies show benefits, while others don’t.

Pro: Improved Immunity And Reduced Inflammation

Finally, some evidence suggests that Tongkat Ali may improve immunity and reduce inflammation. Chronic consumption of the flavonoids, alkaloids, and phenolic compounds it contains modulates the immune system, reducing cytokine production. These effects may occur when the body appropriates plant defenses against pathogenic invaders.

For example, research in the journal Molecules found that some Tongkat Ali constituents, such as eurycomanone and eurycomanone, are “regulators of signal pathways involved in proliferation, cell death, and inflammation.” These compounds can inhibit cellular inflammation signaling pathways, reducing chronic inflammation occurring with disease and age.

Tongkat Ali Cons

Despite Tongkat Ali’s pros, there are some downsides. However, these are significantly fewer in number than conventional pharmacological interventions. Most studies do not report adverse side effects.

Tongkat Ali CONS

Con: DNA Damage

Some researchers believe Tongkat Ali may cause DNA damage at sufficiently high doses. Therefore, keep daily intake to the presumed safe range of 200 to 600 mg until more data becomes available.

(Many medicinal herbs have an optimal dose, like conventional medicine. Beyond that, they become toxic).

Con: Contamination

Tongkat Ali supplements may also be contaminated with heavy metals, like other products on the market. A study by Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority found that 26% had toxic mercury levels exceeding its recommended safe upper limit for traditional medicines of 0.5 ppm.

Therefore, choose your supplement brand carefully. Look for manufacturers who use third-party testing to verify their products’ purity.

Con: Drug Interactions

Those taking conventional and traditional medications must also use Tongkat Ali with caution. It has somewhat strong interactions with astragalus, echinacea, and maitake. It also has mild synergies with common prescriptions, including blood thinners and drugs that lower blood pressure.

Con: It May Not Be Suitable For Those With Hormonal Cancers

Another con is that Tongkat Ali may not be suitable for individuals with hormonal cancers. For instance, those with prostate and male breast cancer may want to avoid it to keep testosterone levels as low as possible.

Con: It May Harm Those With Other Pre-Existing Conditions

Finally, Tongkat Ali may harm those with other pre-existing conditions, like diabetes and insomnia. The herb can lower blood glucose significantly and make it harder for people to sleep when taken at high doses.

How To Decide If You Should Take Tongkat Ali

Whether you take Tongkat Ali is a personal decision. As such, you will need to weigh the pros and cons above.

Men who benefit most are those with low libido or other signs of low testosterone. These could include:

  • Feelings of depression and low mood
  • Becoming overweight, despite sticking to the same diet
  • Feeling tired all the time or experiencing clinical fatigue
  • Loss of libido and interest in sex
  • Reduction in erectile function or inability to get or maintain an erection
  • Reduction in the percentage of the body covered by body hair, including reduced beard growth

However, there are other reasons to use the herb. For instance, you could experiment with it to see if it improves exercise performance or reduces inflammation.

Many short-term studies indicate a benefit to taking Tongkat Ali for up to six months. However, longer trials do not exist. Therefore, many people cycle on and off the herb just in case it produces thyroid, liver, or kidney issues.

Furthermore, be careful which supplements you choose. A significant proportion of Tongkat Ali supplements do not contain what they claim on the label, and some have toxic levels of heavy metals.

Finally, talk to your doctor about taking Tongkat Ali if taking other medications. Medical professionals can advise you on possible interactions.

Summary: Tongkat Ali Pros and cons:

  • Pros
    • May improve sex drive and sexual function
    • May boost athletic performance
    • May reduce inflammation and improve immune function
    • May improve body composition
    • May reduce stress
  • Cons
    • Can interact with prescription medications
    • May not be suitable for those with testosterone-related cancers
    • Some supplements contain heavy metals, like mercury


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.