Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia) is a tree found in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The root of this tree is reported to enhance male sexual performance as well as having medicinal properties for use in the treatment of dysentery, fever and other ailments.
Years ago the roots had to be brewed for long hours to obtain the active extract. However, it is now widely available in the form of a pill or a tea bag and is marketed as 'Malaysia's Viagra' .
Although human studies are sparse, its effect on rats has been investigated. In one study, middle-aged rats were administered 0.5 g/kg of various fractions of E. longifolia, whilst the control group received 3 ml/kg of normal saline daily for 12
weeks . Results showed that E. longifolia enhanced the sexual qualities of the middle-aged male rats by decreasing their hesitation time compared to controls throughout the study time . The authors used the outcome of this study to support the folk use of E. longifolia as an aphrodisiac.
Another study evaluated the effect of tongkat ali in sexually sluggish old male rats, 24-month-old rats and retired breeders . The rats received 200, 400, or 800 mg/kg of various fractions of E. longifolia Jack, twice daily, for 10 d. The control rats received 3 ml/kg of normal saline. Ang et al. monitored the effect of treatment by the act of yawning and stretching. This is because yawning, either alone or associated with stretching, is considered an ancestral vestige surviving throughout evolution that promotes sexual arousal. They showed that 800 mg/kg of E. longifo-lia Jack increased yawning by 50% and stretching by 16.7% in sexually sluggish old male rats, by 676 to 719% and 31to 336%, respectively, in sexually active male rats, and by 22 to 44% and 75 to 100%, respectively, in middle-aged rats and retired breeders .
There are claims that tongkat ali increases testosterone by 48% and should therefore not be used by pregnant women or children . Additionally, it should not be used for the same reason in men with prostate cancer.
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