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Tongkat Ali Insights: Immune System, Evidence & More

Last Updated: 20th December 2020

The recent pandemic has taught us the importance of building a stronger immune system. The debate between the immune system and longevity is even more complex.

What if there is a herbal supplement that can perform wonders including boosting your immune system?

If you have taken Tongkat Ali to achieve your health goals (eg: testosterone, libido, muscle development, strength), you may also wonder the following.

  • Does Tongkat Ali boost our immune system?
  • Is there sufficient scientific evidence to prove that Tongkat Ali can strengthen our immune system?

The short answer is yes.

We found that a research study by a group of Japanese scientists showed an increase in immune-related cells in human bodies, i.e CD4+ and T-cells; when consuming Tongkat Ali for four weeks.

If you are keen to know more, then this article is for you. We shall deep-dive into the scientific evidence and research so that it can guide you to arrive at a better decision.

Here is a quick glimpse.

Summary

Research Objective:

  • To find out if Tongkat Ali can improve the immune system in the human body.
  • To measure immune-related cells and other parameters before and after consuming Tongkat Ali.
  • To observe other adverse effects, or side-effects associated with Tongkat Ali consumption.

Dosage :

  • 200mg of Physta® standardized Tongkat Ali extract daily

Test Subjects:

  • 83 males – with randomized placebo groups

Duration :

  • Four weeks

Results :

  • Naïve T-Cell: + 28%
  • CD4+ T-Cell: + 12%
  • T-Cell count: + 6.5%
  • Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV): +4.8%
  • Immunological Grade: +12.9%

Research Conducted By

Tongkat Ali was once believed as the “The Tree That Cures Hundred Diseases” centuries ago. In recent years, Tongkat Ali has undergone decades of clinical trials and research to prove its efficacy and multiple benefits to revitalize health.

Tongkat Ali protects your health in manys

Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) is often misunderstood as it is commonly used as a natural viagra.

In reality, there are more than 100 research papers on the wide range of usage and health benefits since its discovery in 1600s.

Tongkat Ali is an anabolic plant that naturally induces relevant hormones to restore your testosterone levels to ensure your body function at its optimal level.

Here is the mechanism of action and science behind how Tongkat Ali works.

Tongkat Ali is also widely used by athletes and in competitive sports to enhance endurance, performance and muscle strength.

In this article, we will share how Tongkat Ali may build a more resilient immune system, preventing your body from bacteria and virus attacks.

But first, lets take a quick look at COVID19 and how it relates your our immune system.

COVID19 and our immune system

The objective of the immune system is to achieve a healthy body, thus promotes your lifespan.

When our body is exposed to virus attacks such as COVID-19, our immune system acts as the first line of defense.

Well, there is more you need to know.

The fact is our immune function both declines in effectiveness and becomes inflammatory as we age. However, there are people who have  stronger immune system that can fight the virus.

Here are immune-related studies and events during the recent pandemic.

Immune-related studies on COVID19

  • Researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia found that the recovery of a patient diagnosed with COVIDI19 was due to an unexpectedly strong immune response. The 47-year-old woman in Melbourne who made a remarkable recovery from COVID19 saw all symptoms related to COVID19 had disappeared by day 13.
  • A study led by researcher Chen Dong of the Institute for Immunology and the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University in Beijing showed high levels of antibodies in patients who recovered from COVID19 . The findings have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Immunity.

This implied our immune system serves a strong line of defence against flue, virus attacks and potentially COVID19.

Immunological studies have shown the importance of T-cells in fighting the viruses, more than the antibodies themselves.

"T cells play a more important role than antibodies during natural infection"

Shane Crotty, the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

Well, there are a number of ways to increase your T-cells and other immune cells and Tongkat Ali happens to be one of the natural remedies that you can benefit from.

Now, back to the main question of this article.

Does Tongkat Ali Boost Our Immune System?

A research study by a group of scientists in Japan found strong evidence that Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) can potentially improve our immune system.

Studies showed higher CD4+ T-cells, Lymphocytes, Naive T-cells, and other T-cells found in the group of test subjects who consumed Tongkat Ali vs placebo group.

The published paper from this study can be found here with a new patent filing which can be found here.

Japan is known for its investment in research and technology on herbs and other traditional medicines for centuries.

Measuring immune parameters in our body is one of the most complex tasks and the clinical trial conducted in this study was conducted by a group of independent experts from Japan and Malaysia:

Our findings indicate for the first time the immune-related improvements following the ingestion of Physta® Tongkat Ali

Dr. Annie George, Naoko Suzuki, Kiminori Mohri - Phytotherapy Research 2016

In order to gain a better understand of this mechanism of action works, lets take a view of our immune system.

Our immune system

Our immune system is essentially the natural defense mechanism that protects us from viruses, bacteria and other “attacks” from other “bad cells”.

On the other hand, an antibody is a protein component of the immune system that circulates in the blood, recognizes foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, and neutralizes them. This forms a part of the immune system.

The immune system is a complex system made up of multiple organs and vessel systems, including a sophisticated network of individual cells and proteins.

Here are essential parts of the immune system:

 

In fact, when you first become infected with a virus, your body will launch a standard innate immune defense. And this innate immune response is behind many of the symptoms you experience when you are sick.

Contained in those organs and network are microscopic cells that are not visible to our naked eye. The cells that are responsible to protect our immune system are called CD4+ and T-cells.

Let’s explain the functions of these cells.

Key facts on T-Cells

T-cells are a subset of White Blood Cells (WBC) that play a crucial role in our body’s immune system. T-cells are also commonly known as immune cells.

T cells are found in almost every organ and tissue in our body including lymphoid tissue, mucosal and barrier sites, exocrine organs, fat, and even in the brain and central nervous system.

T-cells are one of the key immune-related cells that are activated due to quassinoids and alkaloids found in Tongkat Ali.

Types of T-cells

There 5 common types of T-cells with a different set of functions:

  • Cytotoxic T-cells
  • Helper T-cells
  • Regulatory T-cells
  • Natural killer T-cells
  • Memory T-cells

 

The most important T-cells are the cytotoxic T-cells. Its primary role is to find and attack bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.

Cytotoxic T cells regulate our immune responses – by releasing perforin and granzymes, and attack infected or cancerous cells as illustrated below:

Cytotoxic T-cells (or commonly known as T-cells) respond by attacking the “bad” or “weak cells”.

Key facts on CD4+ T-Cells

  1. CD4 is a type of protein found on immune cells like T-cells, macrophages, and monocytes. So in short, T-cells contain CD4 – or more commonly described as CD4+ T-cells.
  2. CD4 cell count gives you a measure of the condition of your immune system, i.e which includes your body’s natural defence system against pathogens, infections and illnesses.
  3. For healthy adults, the amount of CD4 varies according to age and CD4 count can typically around 500 to 1500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (mL).
  4. CD4 count is a common measurement used by doctors in diagnosing HIV / AIDS patients. If a patient’s CD4 count falls below 200, then your life expectancy reduces drastically. Here is a chart taken from a study by the University of Bristol UK, which was published here

Boosting immune system with Tongkat Ali is scientifically validated

Tongkat Ali is now scientifically validated and tested on humans to boost the immune system.

Tongkat Ali contains bio-active ingredients such as saponin and eurycomanone amongst others.

Saponin is widely used in vaccine formulations to regulate immune function. Saponins have been associated with various biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer properties.

This discovery debunked the century-old myth that Tongkat Ali serves only one purpose – to improve men’s libido.

The latest scientific discovery of Tongkat Ali’s ability to boost the immune system opens new opportunities to those who are seeking natural ways to enhance your immune system.

Tongkat Ali was tested in clinical trials using human test subjects

Tongkat Ali’s ability to boost the immune system was conducted on 83 test subjects in Japan. These subjects were separated into two groups,

  • Tongkat Ali group – 42 test subjects
  • Placebo group – 41 test subjects

The Tongkat Ali group was instructed to consume 200 mg per day of Tongkat Ali (i.e freeze-dried Physta® formulation) for 4 weeks. This is a similar ingredient contained in AKARALI™ products.  

The Placebo group was tasked to consume rice powder as a placebo for 4 weeks. To ensure the validity of this research, no one informed them that the capsule contained rice powder!

All test subjects were instructed to visit a clinic in Tokyo twice throughout the 4 week period.

Now, on to the next question.

How do you measure immune system?

There are several tests that can be performed to measure the state of your immune system. In the study conducted by the Japanese scientists to validate the effectiveness of Tongkat Ali to boost immune system, each test subject was tested and the following measurements were recorded:

  • Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV)
  • Total T cells (CD3+ cells)
  • CD4+ T cells
  • CD8+ T cells
  • CD8+CD28+ T cells
  • naïve T cells (CD4+CD45+ cells)
  • memory T cells (CD45+CDRO+ cells)
  • B cells (CD20+ cells),
  • natural killer (NK) cells (CD16+CD56+ cells);
  • ratios of CD4+/CD8+ T cells and naïve/memory T cells
  • T cell proliferative activity
  • T cell proliferative index (TCPI)
  • immunological age
  • T lymphocyte age

 

Effect of Tongkat Ali on the Immune System

Tongkat Ali is a hormone-inducing adaptogen plant that requires days or even weeks to work.

For the immune system to work, here is the result after four weeks.

At week 4, the SIV and immunological grade were significantly higher in the Tongkat Ali group compared to the Placebo group (p-value <0.05).

The numbers of total, naïve, and CD4 T-cells were also higher in the Tongkat Ali group compared to the Placebo group.

Between-group comparisons showed the most significant increases in the following:

  • Lymphocytes (P < 0.05)
  • Total T cells (P < 0.05)
  • CD4+ T cells (P < 0.01)
  • Naïve T cells (P < 0.05).

Research Paper on Tongkat Ali

Immunomodulation in Middle-Aged Humans Via the Ingestion of Physta® Tongkat Ali Eurycoma Longifolia  – A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Study

Author: Annie George, Naoko Suzuki, Azreena Abas, Kiminori Mohri, Masanori Utsuyama, Katsuiku Hirokawa and Tsuyoshi Takara 

Publisher: Phytotherapy Research Journal 2016

You can download the full research paper from Phytotherapy Research for free.

Results of immune system parameters

The increase of CD4 T-cells found in the test subjects means consuming Tongkat Ali can improve our chances to strengthen our immune system. Remember, a higher number of the CD4 T-cells in our body correlates to a better immune system.

At the same time, there were no severe adverse events reported by test subjects throughout the 4 week period.

Absolute values for each immunological parameters from the research study (taken from Week 0 to week 4) were summarized in the figures below.

Here is the result of consuming Tongkat Ali and its effect on the human immune system based on immune system parameters (n=83 test subjects)

Naive T-Cell Count

28.1%

Week 0 - (Baseline)
231
Week 4 - (After)
296

CD4+ T-Cell Count

12.1%

Week 0 - (Baseline)
661
Week 4 - (After)
741

Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV)

4.8%

Week 0 - (Baseline)
17.93
Week 4 - (After)
18.80

Immunological Grade

12.9%

Week 0 - (Baseline)
2.7
Week 4 - (After)
3.05

T-Cell Count

6.5%

Week 0 - (Baseline)
1075
Week 4 - (After)
1144

Lymphocytes

1.1%

Week 0 - (Baseline)
1497
Week 4 - (After)
1511

Tongkat Ali contains properties that may enhance your immune system

Tongkat Ali root contains quassinoids and alkaloids, aside from saponin that is also found in Panax Ginseng.

In 2011, the Journal of Current Medicinal Chemistry stated that over 150 quassinoids from Tongkat Ali have been found. Quassinoids display a wide range of inhibitory effects, including anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-malarial and anti-proliferative effects on various tumor cell types.

The paper titled “Quassinoids: From Traditional Drugs to New Cancer Therapeutics” showed possible applications of quassinoids and quassinoid derivatives in modern medicine.

Based on results found by these scientists, we believe the mechanism of action behind the stronger immune system was contributed mainly by higher cytotoxic T-cells found in persons consuming Tongkat Ali.

Whilst this assertion requires further investigation, but the higher count of CD4 T-cells in patients who consumed Tongkat Ali showed a significant milestone in the study of immunology and medical science.

A word of advice

Can I consume Tongkat Ali if I have immune-related medical conditions or diseases?

It is not recommended to consume Tongkat Ali for the purpose of improving your immune system if you are diagnosed with any of the following immune-related conditions, diseases or complications.

Whilst there are no reported studies on the side-effects from patients diagnosed with the above medical conditions consuming Tongkat Ali, it is recommended for you to consult your nearest doctor, or stop consuming Tongkat Ali if there is a severe effect on your health.

For more information on daily dosage and maximum allowable limit, kindly refer to our dosage guide.

Parting Thoughts

Our immune system forms a vital part of our existence and how we respond to external threats. It also serves a key answer to longevity.

The stronger your immune system is, the longer you may live.

As we battle through the pandemic and unforeseen future threats, strengthening our immune system through healthy nutrition, exercise and natural remedies is key.

Tongkat Ali may be one, if not the best herbal supplement to promote a healthy immune system.

Surely, there are other ways too – from natural to organic foods. Diets are often best paired with the right herbal supplements and exercises. 

If you are concerned about preserving good health and strengthening your immune system, then give Tongkat Ali a try.

Naressa Khan contributes regularly on AKARALI. As a writer and journalist, Naressa is all about creating, deconstructing, and reassembling meanings through words. With this approach always in mind, she eagerly explores the nuances in life via the aspects of lifestyle, culture, travel, health, and wellness.

Disclaimer: Content published in this article is not intended to promote any brands nor to provide any form of recommendations to purchase or consume medication, drugs or herbal supplement brands directly or indirectly. By reading this, the sole responsibility and decision lies on the reader to perform their own assessment and / or to arrive at an informed decision based on publicly available information. By reading the content published on this website means you are aware on the risks involved in purchasing any of the products or brands mentioned in this article. We highly recommend you and the readers to consult your nearest doctor before making any purchase from this website or any other websites or social platforms after reading this article.

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3 Responses

  1. I have used this tongkat ali for only a few weeks. Started by taking it in the am. Didn’t notice any physical or mental changes, but since my insomnia has been a runaway train for months. About a week ago, I started taking it after dinner. It’s better than all the drugs and crap I have tried over 30 years. I am sleeping hard. At nearly 60 years old, I do get up to pee nightly, and it’s been a chore. I am so sleepy and it’s lights out when I get back to bed. I wake up with the alarm and get up with no hangover. Feeling better than ever! I even started up my exercise routine before breakfast, slowly of course as it’s been five years. But I actually feel like trying. If this does nothing else for me, feeling rested each day is enough to keep using tongkat ali.

    1. Hi John. Thanks for sharing your feedback and experience. There is a small percentage of our customers that shared the same experience. This is quite normal as your body regulates itself to the effect of Tongkat Ali. Soon the warm tingly sensation will dissappear after few days.

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