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By Serge Kreutz (2007)
Tongkat ali has been shown to raise testosterone. It is alleged that it does so by stimulating the Leydig cells of the testicles to produce more testosterone. This is different from the action of testosterone products, which act like the body's own testosterone and therefore causes the Leydig cells to shut down their production of the hormone. For this reason, all exogenous testosterone products, including anabolic steroids, cause testicular and penile shrinkage.
I do think that this is not sufficiently emphasized by anti-doping campaigns: athletes who dope with testosterone and anabolic steroids will cause their penises to become as small as their thumbs or little fingers, and unfortunately, if exogenous testosterone or anabolic steroids are taken for some time, the loss in size can be permanent. The effect of tongkat ali is the opposite. Because tongkat ali stimulates the body’s own testosterone production in the Leydig cells of the testicles, the testicles and surrounding tissue will grow in size. (During puberty, it's a spur in Leydig cell activity, which causes a boy's sexual organs to become the size of a man's. Furthermore, testosterone over-production endocrine disorders during adolescence cause oversized male genitalia.)
While a large number of men may consider increased penile and testicular size a benefit in its own right, the mass gain also influences sexual function, especially erections and ejaculations. The erectile and ejaculatory support of tongkat ali is, so it appears, a direct consequence of then increased size of male accessory sexual structures.
Critical organs in ejaculations, as well as erection firmness, are the levator ani muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles can be trained through Kegel exercises (an essential part of commercial penis enlargement programs), which, however, are very time-consuming for limited results. On the other hand, it has been shown in a scientific study that tongkat ali can cause a substantial increase in the size of these muscles in particular (an off-shot of the increased activity of testicular Leydig cells).
A scientific article published in the Archives of Pharmacological Research has now shown that tongkat ali can cause a size increase in male reproductive structures. An abstract of the article can be accessed online at the following URL (please note that the scientific name of tongkat ali is Eurycoma longifolia jack):
I do want to emphasize two findings of the above study:
1. the statistic size increase of the levator ani muscles was "significant".
2. the dosages used were 200, 400, or 800 mg of extract per kg of body weight; this means that for a man of 80 kg, the equivalent dosage would be 16, 32, or 64 gram of extract per day.
3. the tongkat ali extract was used for a full 12 weeks (3 months) without interruption.
Even for the lowest dosage used in the above-cited animal model (200 mg per day per kg of body weight, or 16 gram of extract per day for an adult man), a full bottle of most commercial tongkat ali extracts wouldn’t even provide enough for a single dosage.
Because tongkat ali isn’t exactly a cheap herbal (as it is harvested in remote jungles), under-dosing is very common for the producers and distributors of commercial tongkat ali products.
Traditional usage in Indonesia is about 50 gram of root, boiled for half an hour. This would be equivalent to 1 gram of 1: 50 extract.
The lowest dose used in the above study was 200 mg of extract per kg of body weight, which would mean 16 gram of extract per day for a 80-kg man. Assuming a 1:50 extract, this would translate into 800 gram of root in a single dosage.
A common product on US health food store shelves offers 50 mg of a 1:100 extract. Do your math. 1 capsule contains the active ingredients of just 5 gram of tongkat ali root. To repeat the above animal-model study, one would need 80 capsules per day.
Of course, because tongkat ali is expensive, some manufacturers who do not want to spend on genuine tongkat ali root stretch their products with cheap bootleg chemicals, mostly sildenafil and tadalafil. Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra, and tadalafil is the active ingredient in Cialis.
However, those who sell stretched alleged tongkat ali do not use sildenafil or tadalafil from proper pharmaceutical factories, but rather turn to cheap street sildenafil and tadalafil that has been produced in kitchen labs in China, and is smuggled to Malaysia where it ends up in alleged tongkat ali capsules.
The San Jose Mercury News reported on May. 11, 2004 that "researchers found that Super-X contained the key ingredient in Viagra. A similar herbal supplement called Stamina-Rx contained the active drug in Cialis, another erectile dysfunction drug..."
Stamina Rx is still sold over the web, even though "in 2003, the FDA warned Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, the Georgia distributor of Stamina-Rx to stop marketing the drug."
The cited article is no longer available on the San Jose Mercury News web site, but a copy can be seen here:
In Malaysia, were tongkat ali extract has become more than 20 times as expensive as Chinese bootleg sildenafil, the New Straits Times has reported that the Ministry of Health has moved against local tongkat ali companies.
On the website of the New Straits Times, the above-quoted article is no longer online, but you can see the article through this URL:
While I have mentioned above that for many commercial tongkat ali extracts, one would have to swallow all the capsules of a bottle to get a decent dosage of tongkat ali extract, this is actually not recommended because of the uncertainty about the presence of kitchen lab-manufactured pharmaceuticals, such as bootleg sildenafil and tadalafil.
For a link between tongkat ali sales and the sales of the Stamina Rx supplement cited in the San Jose Mercury News article, see tongkat-ali-herb-testosterone.com. I obviously do not recommend to purchase from them. The reason is that in products that contain illegal sidenafil or tadalafil, the drug will likely not come from an official manufacturer but a garage lab in China. There may be all kinds of impurities that can have a very serious impact on a consumer’s health. Actually, in my opinion, there are good reasons to order tongkat ali only from Indonesia, e.g. through www.tongkatali.org (alternative sites: pasakbumi.com, eurycomalongifolia.net) . This is advisable because Indonesia is the only country where there still is tongkat ali in the wild. In Malaysia, tongkat ali meanwhile is a protected plant, and Thailand and Vietnam, where they used to have tongkat ali, are now void of the shrub.
Please note that while the above-cited scientific study used 200 to 800 mg of tongkat ali extract in the animal model, the manufacturer-recommended human dosage for the 1:50 extract of www.tongkatali.org (alternative sites: pasakbumi.com, eurycomalongifolia.net) is 1 gram for average users and 2 gram for bodybuilders. I often take 3 gram, but I am a long-time user and I assume I have a good tolerance for the herbal.
If ever somebody should consider to provoke significant penis and testicular size increases with still higher dosages, a proper way would be to increase the dosage gradually, and not to jump to, let’s say, 10 gram without previously having tested 8, 6, 4, or 2 gram.
As with any effective medication, one can overdose on tongkat ali. While I have never heard of a human fatality, overdose experiments have been made with lab animals. In a study published in the Thai Journal of Phytopharmacy in 1998, it was established that the LD50 (the dose at which half of the lab animals died) for tongkat ali water-based extract was above 3 gram per kg of body weight. For a 80-kg man, this would be the equivalent of 240 gram (which is more than 100 times the manufacturer-recommended dosage for body builders, and 15 times the dosage at which an increased size of sexual accessory structures was noted in the above animal model). Not surprisingly, a prominent feature of the tongkat ali-poisoned animals was the heavily increased size of their sex organs.
It has to be mentioned, though, that while there is a lethal dose for tongkat ali extract, there are numerous health benefits at standard dosages.
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Copyright Serge Kreutz