Last Updated: 20th December 2020
The debate between the immune system and longevity is a complex one. With the global pandemic, COVID-19 has added another long argument about our immune system and how we should take precautionary measures to boost our immune system.
Do herbal remedies such as Tongkat Ali boost our immune system?
And potentially decrease the likelihood of virus attacks that can destory our body?
Tongkat Ali protects your health in manys
Tongkat Ali is often misunderstood as a natural viagra to the uninformed public. There are more than 100 research papers on the wide range of 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 science behind how Tongkat Ali work.
The herbal root 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 can protect your health from bacteria and virus attacks.
With COVID19, we can proactively safeguard our health by protecting our immune system.
But first, lets take a quick look at COVID19 and how it relates your our immune system.
COVID19 and 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 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.
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 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.
So which is more important in fighting the virus? Our antibodies or the cells in our immune system?
Immunological studies have shown the importance of T-cells in fighting the viruses, more than the antibodies themselves.
Well, there are 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 that we are after.
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.
Our immune system contains cells that protects us from bacteria and virus attacks
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
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 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
The result of taking Tongkat Ali on the immune system after 4 weeks.
No one expects herbal remedies can do wonders in just one day or after a few days of consuming them.
For Tongkat Ali, 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).
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
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
CD4+ T-Cell Count
Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV)
Tongkat Ali contains properties that can 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.
Our immune system and longevity are closely linked.
The stronger your immune system is, the longer you will live.
As we battle through the global pandemic, strengthening our immune system is key to our survival and longevity.
And Tongkat Ali is one of the proactive measures that is proven to boost your 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.
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