Major causes of Tongkat Ali Side Effects

This is a continuation of the side effects of Tongkat Ali which was covered in our previous article.

In this article, we shall focus on the major causes of Tongkat Ali’s side effects to help you understand the root cause and prevent the risks from happening.

In general, there are two potential causes of Tongkat Ali side effects:

  1. Adulterants, contaminants & impurities
  2. Allergy reaction to alkaloids, quassinoids and other bioactive ingredients.

Adulterants, contaminants and impurities are major causes of Tongkat Ali side effects. Adulterants may be intentionally added by manufacturers to reduce the quality in order to save costs.

Now, lets go deep into the possible causes of those side effects and learn how to avoid them.

What will be covered in the article:

  • Types of adulterants that are used in Tongkat Ali supplements or extracts.
  • The effects of adulterants and health risks.
  • Commons allergic reactions that cause side effects when Tongkat Ali

1. Adulterants, contaminants & impurities

Adulterants are substances (i.e fillers, synthetic drugs, allergens and pesticides) that are found or intentionally added to Tongkat Ali extract with the intent to deceive, artificially enhance or lower its quality. 

Adulterants found in Tongkat Ali are a major cause of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, severe heart palpitations, acute hallucinations, rashes, and skin allergies.

In the context of Tongkat Ali supplements, adulterants refer to unwanted or potentially harmful substances that are either intentionally or accidentally added to the product during manufacturing, processing, or distribution.

"Adulterants not only dilute the therapeutic value of herbal supplements but also have the potential to cause harm. The herbal industry must commit to rigorous testing and quality assurance protocols to maintain the purity and efficacy of Tongkat Ali."

Five types of adulterants that are usually found in Tongkat Ali supplements:


Some Tongkat Ali manufacturers add inexpensive fillers during production to increase their volume, weight or aid in the encapsulation process.

These fillers can be substances like starch, rice powder, or other inert materials. The addition of excessive fillers can dilute the bioactive ingredients of Tongkat Ali, reducing its effectiveness.

Tongkat Ali supplements with high filler content are sold at lower prices, but less potent and may not deliver any health benefits.


  • Unless you are allergic to gluten (eg: starch), most fillers found in Tongkat Ali supplements may not cause adverse side effects.
  • Low-quality fillers are not regularly tested and may cause side effects.


In some cases, Tongkat Ali supplements may be adulterated with synthetic drugs (i.e sildenafil, tadalafil, steroids, sibutramine), which are pharmaceutical compounds not naturally found in plants.

Manufacturers may add these drugs to mimic the effects of the herbal ingredients or enhance the product’s perceived efficacy.

Amazon has introduced new requirements for Tongkat Ali supplements to be adulterant tested by independent bodies such as EUROFINS.

Adulterant test is crucial to ensure Tongkat Ali supplements are free from:

 Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs):

  • Ostarine (Enobasarm)
  • Ligandrol (LGD-4033)

 Anabolic Steroids:

  • 4-DHEA (4-androsten-3α/β-ol-17-one)


  • Sibutramine and its analogs desmethylsibutramine, and didesmethylsibutramine
  • DMAA (Dimethylamylamine)

However, these synthetic drugs can pose serious health risks, especially if the consumer is unaware of their presence or potential side effects.


  • Yes, synthetic drugs found in fake Tongkat Ali supplements may cause nausea, vomiting and other adverse reactions or side effects.
  • Adulterants such as steroids or sildenafil, or tadalafil may cause more harm than good. 


Tongkat Ali supplements may unintentionally contain allergens such as gluten, soy, dairy, or nuts.

Allergens can be problematic for individuals with known allergies or sensitivities which cause adverse Tongkat Ali side effects.

Cross-contamination of allergens can occur during manufacturing if the supplements are processed in facilities that handle allergenic ingredients.

This is a common problem with contract manufacturing facilities in the USA as they share the same production line with other food products, herbal supplements, etc.


  • Traces of allergens found in Tongkat Ali supplements may cause mild side effects.
  • But if you are allergic to nuts or soy, then it may cause severe side effects, or even death.



Tongkat Ali supplements sourced from plants grown in polluted areas or contaminated soils, can contain heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, or cadmium.

Indonesian Tongkat Ali grown near mining areas in Kalimantan have higher mercury and arsenic, which can be highly toxic.

Therefore, it is crucial to check the source ingredient and country of origin when buying Tongkat Ali.

These metals may accumulate in Tongkat Ali plants and pose health risks when consumed over a long period.

The Food Drugs Administration (FDA) has set a limit of mercury content in food and dietary supplement not exceeding 0.05 p.p.m


  • Yes, Tongkat Ali with high mercury and lead content can potentially cause kidney failure or affect liver function.



If herbs used in supplements are not properly cultivated and tested, they may be contaminated with residues of pesticides or herbicides used during farming.

The pesticide-free Tongkat Ali plants, or wild Tongkat Ali (that are harvested in the rainforests) are a safer option.

These chemical residues can be harmful to human health if ingested regularly.


  • Yes, Tongkat Ali contains traces of pesticides can potentially cause mild side effects in the short term.
  • Prolonged consumption may lead to kidney failure and liver function.

2. Allergy Reactions to alkaloids or quassinoids

Check if you have inherent or undiagnosed allergy to alkaloids.

An allergic reaction to alkaloids is rare but still may occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies alkaloids as harmful substances and triggers an immune response.

Alkaloids are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in various plants such as coca, belladonna plant, nightshade plants (egg plants, tomatoes, peppers) – and can have diverse effects on the human body.

When someone with an allergy to alkaloids comes into contact with these substances, their immune system releases histamine and other chemicals, leading to allergic symptoms. 

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to alkaloids may include:

  • Skin reactions: Itching, hives, redness, or swelling of the skin.
  • Respiratory issues: Sneezing, runny nose, congestion, coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
  • Digestive problems: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
  • Eye irritation: Red, itchy, watery eyes.
  • Anaphylaxis (rare but severe): A potentially life-threatening reaction characterized by difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.
What should I do if I have Anaphylaxis? 

Seek emergency medical help if you, or someone else you’re with has a severe allergic reaction. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away.

If you have an attack and you carry an epinephrine autoinjector, administer it right away. Even if symptoms improve after the injection, you still need to go to an emergency room to make sure symptoms don’t recur, even without more exposure to the allergen. This second reaction is called biphasic anaphylaxis.

Make an appointment to see your provider if you or your child has had a severe allergy attack or signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis in the past.

General tip when experiencing allergy

If you suspect an allergy to alkaloids, quassinoids or other major allergic reactions after consuming Tongkat Ali, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or allergist for proper diagnosis, advice, and management of your condition. They can help identify the specific allergens and recommend appropriate treatment or avoidance strategies.

Pro Tips:

To mitigate the risk of adulteration or allergy reaction, it’s advisable to choose clinically tested Tongkat Ali supplements from trusted brands. This will minimize any unwanted side effects. However, the severity of Tongkat Ali side effects vary from one person to the other.

Also please look out for Certificate of Analysis (COA), or third-party testing certifications from reputable lab facilities such as EUROFINS, and consult healthcare professionals or pharmacists for guidance when selecting and using herbal products.


About Adulterants

Ask our experts on Tongkat Ali adulterants, contaminants and impurities. 


Naressa Khan contributes regularly on AKARALI and is part of the global Tongkat Ali research team. As a writer and journalist, Naressa specializes in nutrition, health supplements, and natural wellness. With this approach always in mind, she explores fact-based and scientific evidence of topics related to health, herbs and natural wellness.

Our articles are third party reviewed by our panel of experts and medical advisors to ensure the facts are accurate and credible. These are validated against multiple source references which include but not limited to research studies, peer-reviewed journals, pre-clinical studies, clinical tests and other credible publications.

Our panel of medical advisors and experts are highly experienced in their individual fields. However, they do not provide any medical advice or recommendations arising from content published in this article.

Disclaimer: The content published in this article is for educational purposes and not intended to provide any form of recommendations, directly or indirectly to purchase or consume herbal supplements, drugs, medications, alternative remedies and practices or any brands mentioned in this article. By reading this, the sole responsibility and decision lies on the reader to make an informed decision based on publicly available information published on the internet. Any herbal supplements can be used as a health supplement, dietary plan or to treat illnesses. However, we encourage you to consult your nearest doctor before making any purchase from this website or any other websites or social platforms after reading this article. We do not hold any responsibility or accountability for any products purchased from this website or any third-party websites that are linked to this articles, sales channels or social platforms.

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