Last Update: 26th February 2022
Tongkat Ali transcends through time. Once dubbed as “the tree that cures a hundred diseases”, Malaysian Tongkat Ali is shrouded by ancient beliefs and traditions for centuries.
Nestled deep in rainforests for millions of years, Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) is quintessentially Malaysian filled with centuries of history and tradition. Traditional jamu is a Malay ancient practice using herbs and natural plants to treat illnesses and cure diseases thousands of years ago.
This article presents the story and facts about Tongkat Ali from Malaysia; including the evolution from traditional application to modern applications in food ingredients, dietary supplements and performance nutrition.
If you are buying Tongkat Ali for the first time, then this article is definitely for you.
We found out that many US consumers prefer buying Tongkat Ali from Malaysia due to its superior benefits including better quality extract amongst others.
Now, that is just the tip of the story about Malaysian Tongkat Ali.
We shall share more facts, history, trends and industry insights in this article before making your first purchase.
- Malaysian Tongkat Ali was consumed for general wellness and traditional medicine back since the 1100s with documented history dated back to the 1800s.
- Malaysia is the major exporter of Tongkat Ali next to Indonesia in current times due to its quality, sustainable harvesting and results from ongoing research and human clinical trials.
- Malaysia is a market leader and touted as the first country that develop a Tongkat Ali extraction technology with MIT, USA since 2006.
- Yellow Tongkat Ali is the most popular amongst consumers next to Black and Red Tongkat Ali as it is well researched, safe and effective.
- Malaysian Tongkat Ali has higher potency and is safer than Indonesian Tongkat Ali due to its soil quality and biodiversity.
- Malaysia Tongkat Ali sparked global attention and views by medical experts in recent years as global demand soared.
In the traditional approach, Tongkat Ali’s thin-sliced roots are mixed in boiling water before serving it in a hot cup.
Tongkat Ali has a long history
Tongkat Ali has a long history of tradition, used by indigenous people for centuries and consumed daily by Malaysians in modern times.
If you had bought a Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) from Amazon, it is also referred to as Akar Ali (or Ali’s roots in Malay language) by Malaysians.
In other parts of the world, Tongkat Ali is known as ‘Longjack’ in the United States, ‘Pasak Bumi’ in Indonesia, Cay Ba Binh in Vietnam, Pin Yin: 东革阿里 or Dōng gé ālǐ in China.
Often infused with coffee or tea, Tongkat Ali coffee is a preferred choice in Malaysia, underpinned by strong herbal coffee traditions from South East Asia.
It is a common sight to find Tongkat Ali coffee served at traditional coffee shops, tucked away in urban and sub-urban areas – consumed largely by busy urban dwellers and working professionals.
Tongkat Ali has enjoyed positive development in recent years is due to rapid advancement of science, innovation and human clinical trials to validate its wide range of health benefits.
Due to the strong demand for natural wellness, Malaysia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, Khazanah, invested heavily in Tongkat Ali back in early 2000s.
With years of breakthrough research and development, Tongkat Ali delivers promising health benefits, sparking further discussions amongst top global medical experts in recent times.
Tongkat Ali is now enjoyed daily – as a functional food, or as a performance ingredient to enhance sports performance, and many other uses.
Well, that’s a brief overview of the present landscape.
Now lets, rewind the clock a little.
With appropriate dosage, you can consume Tongkat Ali during the day or evening as part of your daily diet.
The origin of Tongkat Ali
It is believed the first Tongkat Ali discovered in Malaysia dated as far the early 1100s although there were no documented records to show sufficient evidence.
The first documented evidence was seen on a Tongkat Ali painting belonging to Major General William Farquhar, who was the Rajah of Malacca (a state in Malaysia) between 1803 to 1818.
The honorable man was also the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore during the same period.
The painting of Tongkat Ali belonging to General William Farquhar signifies the importance of Tongkat Ali.
He was believed to be one the first Scottish to receive such a gift from the locals when the British landed their foothold in Malaysia in 1786.
It was believed in the 1800s that Tongkat Ali was a symbol of power and status for primal men, with its close association with masculinity and virility.
The painting of Tongkat Ali plant is now stored and kept safely at the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings in Singapore.
The story behind the word "Tongkat Ali"
Let us begin with the first word.
The word “Tongkat” is a Malay word for a walking stick.
Walking sticks are used by Malaysian elites and aristocrats, the British and the Dutch since 1800.
Walking sticks, or Tongkat, as they call it, are crafted from plants with a strong root, or bark.
Now, let’s get on to the second word, “Ali“
Example of a walking stick made from Tongkat Ali root by a Muslim American living in Malaysia. Credit: Bingregory
It was also believed that the word “Ali” originated from Sayyidina Ali Abi Talib, which is renowned as a paragon of manhood.
But without diving too much into the meaning behind it, “Ali” literally means elevated, or champion in Arabic.
However, you look at it, the term “Tongkat Ali” was soon accepted by the Chinese and Indian as herbal trading activities soared in the early 1800s.
In recent times, it is common for Malaysians to refer Tongkat Ali as Akar Ali, which means strong/elevated root.
Healthy Tongkat Ali plants can be found in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, home to some of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.
The evolution of Tongkat Ali
Back in the early days before modern medicine, Tongkat Ali is widely consumed by Malaysians and Singaporeans to treat many types of illnesses such as flu, cold and others.
Every corner shop in Malaysia sells traditional herbs including Tongkat Ali and this tradition has been infused into Malaysians’ healthy diet for centuries.
As Malaysia and Singapore shares the same history, Tongkat Ali is categorized as Traditional Medicine in both countries and can be legally consumed or sold.
It is believed that the longevity of Malaysians is linked to traditional herbal traditions where Tongkat Ali and others herbs are consumed daily as part of the Malaysian diet.
Tongkat Ali’s unique position as one of the popular herb besides Ginseng is due to a unique bioactive compound – known as quassinoids, found by scientists to heal and improve health.
The other major bioactive compounds are the most potent in its roots which include eurycomaoside, eurycolactone, eurycomalactone, eurycomanone.
Here are quick facts about Tongkat Ali:
Quick facts about Tongkat Ali that you didnt know. Read more about Tongkat Ali FAQ.
Here is a quick video that summarizes everything that you need to know about Tongkat Ali Malaysia in less than 90 seconds.
Tongkat Ali demand is growing
Tongkat Ali’s rising popularity continues in the Western world as consumers are seeking natural alternatives in recent years.
Thanks to significant investments by both public and private sectors in reserach and development, demand for quality Tongkat Ali from Malaysia is now stronger than Indonesian Tongkat Ali.
Tongkat Ali’s versatility, efficacy, and more importantly, growing evidence of its health benefits by scientists and health experts are one of many reasons behind the growing demand.
In addition, online marketplaces have improved accessibility for consumers.
This may explain the growing sales recorded for herbal supplements in the US.
The surge in herbal supplements such as Tongkat Ali is potentially driven by recent fear over the global pandemic too – which demands greater immunity protection.
That probably explains why herbal supplements on Amazon have recorded spikes in online sales.
17 out of 20 vitamin category products sold on Amazon
Herbal supplements that promote greater immunity protection such as Tongkat Ali is seen as a comparable alternative to Panax Ginseng, although both have distinct differences and advantages depending on your health objectives.
However, Malaysian Tongkat Ali (otherwise known as Malaysian Ginseng too) is the preferred choice since it is clinically tested and validated by scientists and researchers around the world.
Left: Tongkat Ali (i.e Malaysian Ginseng) Right: Panax Ginseng. Can you tell the difference?
Clinically Tested and Proven by Scientists
Malaysian Tongkat Ali is clinically tested for a wide range of health benefits by scientists.
This could be the main reason why Malaysian Tongkat Ali gained so much trust from consumers around the world.
Tests and clinical trials are conducted by independent research institutions and organizations around the world – from USA, Japan, South Africa, Korea and Malaysia.
A well-respected Physta® Tongkat Ali (which was jointly formulated by MIT and the Malaysian Government back in 2008) produced breakthrough results from more than 26 clinical trials using human test subjects to validate various health benefits.
Asides from lab tests and clinical trials, Malaysian Tongkat Ali products perform well in the real world too.
This may be helpful if you want to gain more insights on body transformation and how it could change you after consuming Tongkat Ali.
Scientists in Japan found that Physta® Tongkat Ali may boost immune system by increasing T-Cells and CD4+ cells based on a 12 week study.
Summary of Potential Health Benefits From Tongkat Ali:
- Increases the Production of Testosterone
- Improves Sexual Health & Libido
- Improve Strength, Muscle & Physical Activities
- Promote Loss of Weight & Body Fat
- Potential Treatment for Osteoporosis
- Anti-Cancer properties to aid Cancer Treatment
- Reduce Stress, Anger & Improve Mood
- Enhancing the Immune System
- Potentially Reduce Blood Sugar Level
- Reduction in Blood Pressure
- Anti Inflammatory, Anti Bacterial and Parasitic Agent
- Exhibits Anti-Ulcer Properties
Access our full article and scientific studies here.
Malaysia remains the best home to Tongkat Ali
Many believe that the best Long Jack products available in the market today are sourced from Malaysia.
Here is one reason.
Experts have found that the tropical rainforests in Malaysia have existed for 130 million years – making it older than the Amazon and the Congo.
Scientists found more than 185,000 species of fauna and 12,500 species of flowering plants in Malaysia and other deeper parts of Borneo. The forest reserves such as the Royal Belum State Park in Perak, was even recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage as being some of the oldest forests in the world.
Well, there are other reasons too.
Find out 5 reasons why Tongkat Ali in Malaysia is highly sought after here.
Malaysia has been a natural home for Tongkat Ali for millions of years and is home to some of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.
Now, lets dive deeper on the first reason earlier.
Being home to the oldest tropical rainforest has one unique advantage, as the soils are rich with nutrients and minerals known to humankind and is perfect for the proliferation of Tongkat Ali plants.
The natural minerals found in Malaysian soils in some parts of the rainforests are free from human contamination and pollutants.
This results in higher bio-active compounds found in the Tongkat Ali roots.
An ideal environment for thriving Tongkat Ali plants requires well-drained soil with a high organic matter content coupled with an annual rainfall of 2,000-3,000 mm in the optimal temperature range of 25–30ºC. For that, Malaysia provides the perfect tropical climate year on year.
You are assured that quality Tongkat Ali from Malaysia is from a healthy plant that lives in the best ecosystem on the planet.
The best Tongkat Ali root in Malaysia can be visually identified from its strong creamy yellow tone with distinct bitter aftertaste.
Is Tongkat Ali From Malaysia the best?
Tongkat Ali from Malaysia is touted as the best due to quality soil composition (away from contaminants), years of experience, massive science and innovation from the public and private sector.
This makes Malaysian Tongkat Ali the best in terms of potency and safety.
But there are a few things you need to know.
Regardless of the wide range of marketing claims out there, no two roots of Tongkat Ali plants can produce the same level of potency.
Each root needs to be visually inspected, before letting it air-dried to remove excess moisture before sending it to the manufacturing facility for further chromatography test.
Tongkat Ali harvesting in Malaysia
Malaysia is one of the few countries that adopt best practices for Tongkat Ali harvesting.
Most Tongkat Ali plants at 2-3 years of age are found to start flowering and bearing fruit where the plant begins to mature steadily.
Although the plant can be harvested early at this age, the root is fully developed and there will be potential challenges in extracting the best bio-active compounds from the plant.
Yes, a 5-year old or older Tongkat Ali plant may have higher potency due to the high level of bioactive ingredients.
However, do consider its extraction method too.
Fine quality Tongkat Ali uses an extraction method that can extract the best bioactive ingredients that your body needs.
Depending on the locations in Malaysia, Yellow Tongkat Ali plants can grow as high as 15 meters, about five to six times the average height of humans.
Tongkat Ali in states of Pahang or Johor can grow more than 15 meters, but in this case, size does not matter!
Here is one example of a healthy and mature Tongkat Ali plant that we found in Malaysia.
Tongkat Ali Malaysia can grow and compete with other plants in the deep rainforests.
Tongkat Ali had attracted a significant amount of herbal medicine hunters from all around the world.
Back in 2003, Chris Kilham, ventured deep into the Malaysian rainforests to debunk the myths on Tongkat Ali.
After days of extensive discovery and experiential journey, this is what he had to say about Tongkat Ali.
Watch this amazing documentary on ABC News featuring Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham’s exploration to Malaysia.
Tongkat Ali in Malaysia was relatively unknown in the United States 20 years ago.
Is Malaysian Tongkat Ali better than Indonesian Tongkat Ali?
Yes, Indonesian soil contains high mercury levels due to massive mining activities.
This what deters the consumers and suppliers from buying Tongkat Ali from Indonesia.
Here are some facts.
- High mercury contamination with levels exceeding international regulatory limits was discovered by scientists and affected the soil, plants and natural environment in Indonesia. This study was published in 2019
- High mercury contamination was found by scientists in gold mining region of Indonesia in 2015.
So, would you consume agricultural products, vegetables or natural plants from soil that contains a high level of mercury?
Well, you know the answer. So avoid Tongkat Ali from Indonesia if possible.
Tongkat Ali plant absorbs all the good, bad and toxic bio-active ingredients from the soil in order for it to grow.
Despite the fact that shellfish, tuna and seabass have a much higher level of mercury than Tongkat Ali, your body may find the excessive mercury harmful.
So, you may want to think twice when buying Tongkat Ali from Indonesia.
As Tongkat Ali is a rare valuable commodity in Malaysia, sustainability becomes an important agenda.
The Malaysian Government has placed policies and guidelines on Tongkat Ali sustainability programs as early as 2008.
With that in mind, Tongkat Ali harvesting in Malaysia does not require an open-field planting nor it causes deforestation.
This is unlike other crops such as soy, palm oil which consumes acres or hectares of land space, causing massive damage to the environment.
Sustainability is practiced religiously in Malaysia – from harvesting techniques, replantation programs, employment and education opportunities for the local indigenous communities that are involved directly in every step of the value chain of Tongkat Ali production.
Tongkat Ali Malaysia replantation programme is to ensure Tongkat Ali can be made available for future generations.
So most of these sustainable harvesting practices are passed on for generations by responsible reputable Tongkat Ali manufacturers.
Very few Tongkat Ali manufacturers in Malaysia directly work with indigenous communities to ensure that they are well trained to adhere to sustainable practices.
For instance, the replantation programme carried out by AKARALI team ensure every Tongkat Ali plant harvested for commercial use is replanted with 3 new plants.
This is to ensure sustainability goals can be achieved for future generations.
The artisanal Malaysian Tongkat Ali and the mastery of fine whiskey from the Hebridean Island of Islay share one thing in common.
They are both exceptional quality products.
Quality Tongkat Ali with higher eurycomanone of 1.5% to 3% is now available to consumers via Amazon. Single-origin handpicked roots with standardized extract, you can buy quality Tongkat Ali on Amazon at amazing prices.
Years of evolution in extraction technology and endless hours of research have made Tongkat Ali the preferred choice amongst other popular herbs such as Panax Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Maca and others.
This article reminds you that Tongkat Ali from Malaysia offers superior benefits. With that in mind, do check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section which answers most questions on usage, efficacy, dosage guide, side effects and others.
Once you have decided that Tongkat Ali is suitable for your health goals, you can buy directly from us and experience a new world.
At the end of the day, we have only one mission.
To bring joy. Together.
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 in Malaysia .
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