The debate between the immune system and longevity is a complex one. With the global pandemic, COVID-19 has added importance and another layer of argument to our immune system.
The underpinning 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 is the first line of defense.
The fact is our immune function both declines in effectiveness and becomes inflammatory as we age. However, there are people who have a strong immune system in their adult years.
In the case of the 47-year-old woman in Melbourne who made a remarkable recovery from COVID19, researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia found that her recovery was due to an unexpectedly strong immune response. They found the following:
- Her chest was clear 10 days after she was admitted to hospital and she was safely discharged on day 11.
- 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 to COVID-19 found in patients who recovered from COVID-19 – indicating immune protection from immediate reinfection. The findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Immunity.
This begs the question – can we build more resilience from virus attacks by developing a stronger immune system to ensure our longevity?
This article aims at deep-diving into the world of natural herbs and wellness – beyond conventional exercises, and other known modern medications.
Does Tongkat Ali Boost Immune System?
One of the natural herbs that have attracted scientists in recent years is Tongkat Ali. Its bio-active properties were tested in studies of immunology, anti-inflammatory and others.
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 . The breakthrough on Tongkat Ali has been so exciting in recent years with new patent filing on Tongkat Ali based on this research, which can be found here.
Building a stronger immune system is important. Here is why.
We live in a global health crisis where new viruses are being discovered. Without knowing how our body will react, the only mechanism that we have against these viruses are our immune system.
Although complex, our immune system is developed and strengthened in many ways – most of which are closely associated with diet, lifestyle and environment (or exposure).
Now, Japan’s life expectancy is one of the highest in the world. With more than 60,000 people above 100 years of age, the secret of longevity and a strong immune system are closely associated with natural diet and nutrition.
What’s more interesting is Japan’s dependency on natural diet, herbs and quality food have long-lasting impact to health and immune system. The discovery by Japanese scientists is a significant milestone for Tongkat Ali.
Tongkat Ali’s global popularity due to a wide range of proven health benefits encourages more research to be performed to discover other benefits associated with immune system.
Let’s find out.
Our immune system
But first let’s understand about our immune system, i.e essentially our natural defense mechanism that protects us from viruses and germs. The word “antibodies” is an element, or one 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.
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.
Key facts on CD4+ T-Cells
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
A natural herb such as Tongkat Ali is now scientifically validated and tested on humans to boost the immune system. This goes beyond the myth that Tongkat Ali serves only one purpose (i.e to improve men’s health).
As you understand better how our immune system works, lets share the scientific discovery of Tongkat Ali’s ability to boost the immune system.
83 test subjects were tested in this study conducted 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, i.e in weeks 0 and week 4.
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
In total, eighty-three test subjects completed the study; 40 in the Tongkat Ali group and 41 in the Placebo group were statistically analyzed. Two subjects were excluded from the analysis.
The result of taking Tongkat Ali on the immune system after 4 weeks is phenomenal
So does taking Tongkat Ali improves the immune system in our body, and how do we find out?
Scientists from the study found that the test subjects had relatively lower scores of Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV) when subjected to 200mg per day of Tongkat Ali for 4 weeks.
At week 4, the SIV and immunological grade were significantly higher in the Tongkat Ali group compared to the Placebo group. The statistically significant p-value was measured at less than 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).
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.
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 result of consuming Tongkat Ali was found to substantially increase the immune system based on key areas as described below:
Naive T-Cell Count
CD4+ T-Cell Count
Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV)
Tongkat Ali contains properties that can enhance your immune system
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) root contains quassinoids and alkaloids – a unique compound which is only found in this plant.
In 2011, the Journal of Current Medicinal Chemistry stated that over 150 quassinoids from Tongkat Ali have been isolated and classified based on their chemical structures. Scientists found molecules with 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 as cancer therapeutics.
Based on statistically significant results found by these scientists, we believe the mechanism of action behind stronger immune system was contributed by higher cytotoxic T-cells found person 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.
Our immune system and longevity are closely linked. As we battle through the global crisis of fighting COVID-19, strengthening our immune system is key to win this battle.
We have seen a growing trend of consumers to embrace a better diet plan – from natural to organic foods. Diets are always best complimented by herbal supplements and exercises. This trend is going to stay in line with the growth of the herbal industry since 2010.
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.
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