The Malaysian Tongkat Ali: Story, Journey & Evolution

Last Update: 6th June 2024

Nestled deep in rainforests for millions of years, Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) is quintessentially Malaysian; a story that began as early as 1600s.

Tongkat Ali is used by the indigenous people (i.e Orang Asli) who live in the remote rainforests of Malaysia for centuries. This herb is now consumed by more than 500 million people across the globe. 

This is the story of Malaysian Tongkat Ali. You will learn facts about Malaysian Tongkat Ali, buying tips and what makes Malaysian Tongkat Ali truly special, reputable and trusted in the US, UK and Australia.

In Malaysia, Tongkat Ali is used as male tonic for energy for centuries.


Malaysian has a rich history of herbs, natural and traditional remedies that attract the world’s attention, rising to the top as one of the key exporters of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia), or otherwise known as Malaysian Ginseng or LongJack.

Dating back to its first discovery as a medicinal plant by British surgeon Sir William Jack in 1822, Malaysia is known for its preservation efforts, harvesting, research & development and decades of technical innovation to deliver quality Tongkat Ali extract that meets international quality and safety standards.

Following the adoption of Tongkat Ali as one of the reputable herbs by the American Botanical Council, Malaysian Tongkat Ali is now viewed as a better choice for US consumers seeking to buy quality Tongkat Ali (LongJack) supplements in the United States.

Malaysian Tongkat Ali has become popular in the past decade due to the growing scientific research on this interesting medicinal plant.

Founder of the American Botanical Council (ABC) Mark Blumenthal estimated that there are at least 175 scientific articles compiled on Tongkat Ali in HerbMedPro, an online portal of research and clinical studies hosted by ABC.

The growing list of clinical trials of Malaysian Tongkat Ali from its early research days with MIT scientists now sparks a global revolution that caught the attention of many health professionals, scientists and researchers including US-based Dr Andrew Huberman, Dr. Rena Malik and even top urologists in Europe Dr. Militello in recent years.

But Malaysia’s reputation goes further back.

According to a book published by researcher Goreja in 2004, Malaysian Tongkat Ali has a wide range of health benefits that crowned this herb as “A Tree That Cures a Hundred Diseases“.

Indeed Malaysia was and still the epicenter of Tongkat Ali’s global revolution due to its rich tradition of jamu – a century-old practice by the Malays that uses herbs and natural plants to treat illnesses and cure diseases. 

Here are six facts you need to know about Malaysian Tongkat Ali.

Quick facts

  1. Malaysian Tongkat Ali was consumed for general wellness and traditional medicine back since the 1100s with a documented history dating back to the 1800s.
  2. 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.
  3. Malaysia is the market leader and is the first country that develops a Tongkat Ali extraction technology with MIT, USA in 2000
  4. Malaysia is the first country to publish Tongkat Ali standards, known as Malaysian Standard MS2409, to ensure compliance to quality and safety standards.
  5. Malaysian Tongkat Ali has higher potency and is safer than Indonesian Tongkat Ali due to its soil quality and biodiversity.
  6. Malaysia Tongkat Ali sparked global attention and views by medical experts in recent years as demand for clinically tested Tongkat Ali soared.

Tongkat Ali: History and Journey

Buying Malaysian Tongkat Ali is akin to buying a piece of history. The journey and mass adoption of Tongkat Ali was driven by the country’s commercialization effort that began in the 1980s. Through its first discovery in the 1800s, here are the key events and milestones that shaped Malaysian Tongkat Ali to where it stands today.

Tongkat Ali was first discovered in Malaysia by Scottish Botanist / Surgeon William Jack. The original description of the Tongkat Ali species known as Eurycoma Longifolia was published in the Malayan Miscellanies, Volume 2, in 1822 by William Jack. A Tongkat Ali painting was presented as a gift to British leaders in the 1880s as a symbol of power used by the indigenous in Malaysia during the British Empire.

Tongkat Ali is exported as herbal medicine by the Gujaratis and traders who frequently dominate the Eurasian spice trade. Meanwhile Malaysian Tongkat Ali is mainly consumed in it’s traditional form, i.e by drinking the root extract from hot water boiling method.

Tongkat Ali is sold without regulations by the health authorities and safety standards in Malaysia. Malaysians generally consume Tongkat Ali daily as an energy tonic and for its aphrodisiac properties. No scientific evidence was recorded during this period.

Malaysian Government announced it’s first biotech partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to commercialize Tongkat Ali. The research involves developing new extraction technology and refining other protocols which include chromatography fingerprinting and indexing processes in 2003. This enables the identification of the best bioactive ingredients during the Tongkat Ali extraction process.

The world’s first patented Tongkat Ali extract known as Physta was born as a result of MIT-Malaysia research partnership in 2003 which made Malaysian Tongkat Ali a a popular herb in the US, mainly used as a natural testosterone supplement and a libido booster.

Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Khazanah, invested more effort to accelerate the commercialization of Tongkat Ali through collaborative research effort. More studies were conducted to validate Tongkat Ali’s health benefits using Physta® hot water root extract technology.

The Department of Standards Malaysia published the world’s first Tongkat Ali standards, known as the Malaysian Standard MS2409. The Malaysian Standard MS2409 prescribes the quality requirements and specifications of freeze-dried water extract derived from the dried roots of Tongkat Ali.

Meanwhile, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of Malaysia (under the Ministry of Health) published the official use of Tongkat Ali as Traditional Medicine in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph in 2015.

Malaysia continued to be the industry leader in Tongkat Ali that sparked more than 300 research studies and clinical trials. Malaysia-formulated Physta® Tongkat Ali with its US-patented Tongkat Ali standardized hot water extract technology sets a  new quality benchmark, giving birth more than 26 clinical trials conducted on men and women to validate its health benefits.

It was believed that Tongkat Ali was a symbol of power and status for Malaysian men, linked to masculinity and virility.

The painting of Tongkat Ali belonging to General William Farquhar was a gift by the Sultans when the British landed their foothold in Malaysia in 1786. 

What does "Tongkat Ali" mean?

Using the English direct translation, Tongkat Ali means Ali’s walking stick. However, the correct term that most people refer to is “Tongkat Ali root”, which represents the most potent part of the plant due to its reported health benefits.  In the Malaysian language, Tongkat Ali root is known as Akar Ali, commonly pronounced as aka-ralee or akarali.

Tongkat Ali root (Akar Ali) refers to Malaysian Ginseng, a root that used in the form of raw slices, powder extract, capsules or drinks for centuries as a herbal remedy for vitality and other health benefits. 

Language experts and historians believe that the combination of two words, i.e “Tongkat” and “Ali, may contain deeper meaning beyond its literal translation. Here is the definition of what Tongkat Ali means.


The word “Tongkat” is a Malay word for a walking stick. In the context of the word “Tongkat Ali”, the word “Tongkat” represents the root of the tree which resembles a walking stick, often viewed as a symbol of virility and power. Walking sticks or “Tongkat” are mainly used by the Malaysian elites, noblemen, royals and British aristocrats in the 1800s.


“Ali” literally means elevated, or champion in Arabic. It is believed that the word “Ali” originated from Sayyidina Ali Abi Talib, which is renowned as a paragon of manhood. It is believed that Tongkat Ali was traded by the Gujaratis from Malaysia to India as a novelty herb during the British Empire.

Example of a walking stick made from Tongkat Ali root by a Muslim American living in Malaysia. Credit: Bingregory

Species of Malaysian Tongkat Ali

There are three types of Tongkat Ali found in Malaysia, namely from the species of Eurycoma Longifolia (Yellow Tongkat Ali), Polyathia bullata (Black Tongkat Ali, and Stema tuberosa (Red Tongkat Ali). 

However, for commercial reasons, Malaysian Tongkat Ali is often derived from yellow Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) which represents approximately 90% of the Tongkat Ali market sold in US, UK and Australia. This is the type of Tongkat Ali you should buy as the Ministry of Health Malaysia approves the sale of Tongkat Ali (from the species of Eurycoma Longiflia) as a traditional herbal supplement, reported to boost testosterone, libido, hormones and general revitalization.

Tongkat Ali can be sold in Malaysia as traditional herbal supplement

Whilst all Malaysian Tongkat Ali species may deliver some level of health benefits, Yellow Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) delivers the most, measured by the highest level of testosterone gains from the latest in-vitro study published in the Tropical Journal of Natural Product Research in 2024.

According to the researchers from the University of Pahang Malaysia, Yellow Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) produced the highest testosterone increase by 56.02 nmol/L (41.1%), compared to Black Tongkat Ali at 40.49 nmol/L (18.65%) and Red Tongkat Ali at 36.99 nmol/L (10.93%).

On top of 175 published articles and research papers, the 2024 study confirms that Yellow Tongkat Ali from the species of Eurycoma Longifolia is the best type of Tongkat Ali you should buy due to its potent bioactive to deliver the highest testosterone and hormonal benefits.

Quick facts about Tongkat Ali that you didnt know. Read more about Tongkat Ali FAQ.

Demand for Malaysian Tongkat Ali

Malaysian Tongkat Ali is highly sought after in the US, often viewed as a premium due to its quality organic harvesting techniques, standardized extract, purity, and 3rd party lab-tested to meet the USFDA dietary supplement standards.

In fact, Malaysian Tongkat Ali extract has been promoted in various nutraceutical events across the United States in the last decade, prompting new research activities and growing consumer confidence. Rest assured Malaysian Tongkat Ali is amongst the best Tongkat Ali in the US that is recognized by the American Botanical Council.

The American Botanical Council (ABC) based in Austin, Texas expressed their confidence in showcasing Malaysian Tongkat Ali extracts to American consumers by adopting Tongkat Ali as one of the top herbs in the US.

The research on Malaysian Tongkat Ali is growing and we hope to have more people engaged in the practice of consuming Tongkat Ali.

Due to consumers switching to premium Tongkat Ali extracts,  Malaysian Tongkat Ali recorded steady growth in the last decade with a sharp surge between 2021 to 2023 due to the wider acceptance by medical professionals and the health communities.

Whilst global data suggested more than 10% annual growth, most of the shift was due to increased demand of clinically tested Tongkat Ali products from Malaysia.

On that note, Malaysian Tongkat Ali is recording a higher growth rate than Indonesian Tongkat Ali due to more clinical trials being published by Malaysian scientists in recent years.

Malaysian Tongkat Ali’s rising popularity surprised many healthcare professionals in the US and UK as consumers are seeking natural remedies that work, i.e clinically tested to work on humans. A good example is the growing list of Tongkat Ali clinical studies from proprietary Malaysian-made Physta extract, which is formulated from a standardized hot water extract, a result of decades of research by MIT and Malaysian scientists. 

From a consumer survey undertaken by California-based research agency, MIT-formulated Tongkat Ali is amongst the top Malaysian Tongkat Ali you can buy in the US and UK that meet the highest potency biomarkers (eurycomanone > 1.%, eurypeptides > 20%) without compromising safety or cGMP dietary standards set by the FDA.

In fact, Malaysian Tongkat Ali is safe for long-term use and used by bodybuilders and sprinters in international competitions in recent years.

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.

Buyer's Guide: Malaysian Tongkat Ali

For discerning and well-informed consumers, buying Malaysian Tongkat Ali may be your preferred choice since it is clinically tested to benefit libido, testosterone, strength, stamina and the immune system. However, not every Malaysian Tongkat Ali brands in the US is created equal and there are still bad apples that you need to watch out for.

Global brands such as AKARALI is amongst the most reputable as the company use 100% Malaysian Tongkat Ali root extract that is free from adulterants, steroids, impurities and heavy metal content. It publishes the certificate of analysis (COA) and its 3rd party lab-tested by EUROFINS.

The best Malaysian Tongkat Ali uses standardized hot water extract that is clinically tested or 3rd party lab-tested for optimal benefits.

In comparison to Indonesian Tongkat Ali extracts, Malaysian Tongkat Ali stood the test of time as one of the best clinically tested supplements for aging adults, active adults, and menopausal women too. This is seen as a comparable alternative to the long-standing Panax Ginseng, Fadogia Agrestis or Turkesterone.

Clinically Tested Malaysian Tongkat Ali

Beyond 3rd party lab-tested Tongkat Ali extracts, Malaysia is known for its source quality clinically tested Tongkat Ali supplements. Clinically tested Tongkat Ali extract is viewed having the highest quality due to its superior potency from standardized biomarkers. Often clinically tested Tongkat Ali sourced from Malaysia are used in clinical trials that involve placebo-controlled randomized tests, setting a new quality benchmark and assurance amongst discerning herbal users in the US and UK.

Rigorous clinically-tested and 3rd party lab-tested procedures and checks have elevated Malaysian Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) as the most reputable and trusted Tongkat Ali that you can buy in the US and UK compared to extracts sourced from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia.

You may find that most Tongkat Ali clinical trials are conducted using Yellow Malaysian Tongkat Ali extract, often by scientists from independent research institutions and organizations around the world including USA, Japan, South Africa, Korea and Malaysia.

A known clinically tested Tongkat Ali, AKARALI uses Physta, a standardized hot water extract that recorded more than 26 clinical trials in the last two decades, making it one of the finest Malaysian Tongkat Ali you can buy in the US and UK.

Buying a Malaysian Tongkat Ali product that is clinically tested gives me greater confidence

Due to the investment in research, clinical trials and quality standardization by the Government, Malaysian Tongkat Ali extracts are known to perform better in the real world, with claims that it boost testosterone, libido and mood. With the Malaysian Tongkat Ali Standards MS2409 in place, this elevates the position of Malaysian Tongkat Ali as the most preferred Tongkat Ali amongst American and British consumers.

“I made my switch from a UK Tongkat Ali brand to Malaysian Tongkat Ali after hearing about the potency and the quality standards”, said Khadafi Javeed, a 22-year-old UK sprinter.

Khadafi is amongst top sportsmen in Britain who decided to stick to Malaysian Tongkat Ali after his disappointing performance. He now knows many Tongkat Ali brands in the UK carry Indonesian or China-produced extract.


Sourcing the best Malaysian Tongkat Ali

Malaysia is blessed with the best soil to grow Tongkat Ali, often harvested in the deep rainforests, instead in an open field. Many believe that tropical rainforests in Malaysia have existed for 130 million years, older than the Amazon and the Congo, with soils rich with bionutrients. 

The top 10% of the best Tongkat Ali supplements in the market today contain Yellow Malaysian Tongkat Ali that are sourced from reputable suppliers, mainly indigenous (Orang Asli) who lives in the remote rainforests of Pahang, Perak and the north of Johor.

Single-origin Tongkat Ali supplements is reported by herbalists as the finest Malaysian Tongkat Ali you can buy as it represent purity and commitment to sustainability. US best-selling brand AKARALI sources the best handpicked Tongkat Ali from the remote rainforests of Pahang, making it one of the purest Malaysian Tongkat Ali roots that you can buy in the US and UK through its official stores.

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.

Fun facts:

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.

Find out 5 reasons why Tongkat Ali in Malaysia is highly sought after here.

Being home to the oldest tropical rainforest has one unique advantage, as the soils are rich with nutrients and minerals known to humankind and are perfect for the proliferation of Tongkat Ali plants. This results in higher bio-active compounds that is better for your health. 

Malaysian Tongkat Ali is well known to be free from human contamination, and pollutants and contain mercury levels below the USFDA permissible limit of 0.05 ppm.

Natural minerals are important for a healthy Tongkat Ali plant

Malaysia thus provides an ideal environment for Tongkat Ali plant to grow – a well-drained soil containing high organic matter content coupled with an annual rainfall of 2,000-3,000 mm in the optimal temperature range of 25–30ºC.

This makes it a perfect tropical climate to grow Tongkat Ali to its full potential. If you are buying Malaysian Tongkat Ali, chances are and provided it is 3rd party lab-tested, it may contain amongst the highest bioactive ingredients (i.e eurycomanone, eurypeptides, saponin and other bioactive ingredients) that are optimized to deliver the highest testosterone or libido gains as reported in various clinical trials. 

The notion that you are buying a healthy mature plant that lives in a 130-million year old ecosystem is the primary reason why Malaysian Tongkat Ali is amongst the best premium extract that you could possibly buy. At premium prices, the USD exchange rate means American and British consumers are buying premium Tongkat Ali standardized hot water extract from Malaysia as low as USD 17 or 0.80 pounds per capsule of 200mg.

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?

Taking into account quality standardization extract, 3rd party tests, Tongkat Ali from Malaysia is touted as amongst the best in the world given its decades of public-driven investments on harvesting, standardization and research activities. The fact that Malaysia is uniquely blessed with a rich biodiversity and ecosystem (including quality soil that is free from contaminants and human pollution), this makes Malaysian Tongkat Ali a rarity only to those who have penchant for fine-quality ingredients. 

In addition, it is relatively safe to consume pure Tongkat Ali root that are picked from the Malaysian rainforests. There have been no adverse effects or death reported in Malaysia from taking pure Malaysian Tongkat Ali extract.

However, if you are buying Malaysian Tongkat Ali, finding the best brand may be challenging. The fact is, no two roots of Tongkat Ali plants can produce the same level of potency.

Therefore, always check for reputable Malaysian Tongkat Ali brands if you want the best, high-quality supplements for your health.

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 growing Tongkat Ali as harvesting is done in natural rainforests without causing any harm to the environment, or any form of deforestation. 

Potent Tongkat Ali plants are harvested between 3 to 4 years but the best roots are from mature plants which are older than 5 years. Malaysian Tongkat Ali are known for its mature roots from older Tongkat Ali plants due to higher potency and high level of bioactive ingredients.

Fine quality Malaysian Tongkat Ali uses an extraction method and handpicked tools to ferry it to the drying area to remove any excess moisture before ferrying it to the factory for further extraction.

Yellow Tongkat Ali plants can grow as high as 15 meters, about five to six times the average height of humans as this painstaking process of unearthing the roots using hand tools makes Malaysian Tongkat Ali a rare novelty herb. 

In states of Pahang or Johor, mature Tongkat Ali can grow more than 15 meters, with roots weighing more than 100kg. Single-origin Malaysian sourced Tongkat Ali is truly special for those who appreciate the authentic processes and steps behind Tongkat Ali production.

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. 

American herbalist Chris Kilham once said Malaysian Tongkat Ali is amongst the top natural libido herbs in the world. 20 years later, the growing clinical evidence suggests that Tongkat Ali may help improve libido and those with mild ED symptoms due to hormonal deficiencies.

During his visit to the rainforests and after consuming Tongkat Ali for the first time, he said “It is New Year and Fire in my pants”

The fact is, American consumers prefer buying Malaysian Tongkat Ali which is reported as authentic and potent. This amazing documentary on ABC News  featuring Chris Kilham’s discovery of Malaysian Tongkat Ali gives you more insights as to why Malaysian Tongkat Ali is highly sought after.

Tongkat Ali in Malaysia was relatively unknown in the United States 20 years ago.

Sustainable harvesting

Tongkat Ali is a valuable commodity in Malaysia and sustainability measures are put in place by the Government since 2008. 

Unlike other crops such as soy, palm oil which consumes acres or hectares of land space, causing massive damage to the environment, Tongkat Ali harvesting in Malaysia does not require an open-field planting and it does not deforestation.

Sustainability practices are adopted by most Tongkat Ali suppliers in Malaysia – from harvesting techniques, replantation programs, employment to education opportunities for the local indigenous communities.

Reputable Tongkat Ali brands such as AKARALI work directly with indigenous communities (Orang Asli) in Pahang to ensure that they are well-trained to adhere to sustainable practices.

The replantation programme ensures 3 new Tongkat Ali plants are replanted for every Tongkat Ali plant that is harvested for commercial use. This is to ensure sustainability goals can be achieved for future generations.

Last Words

Malaysian Tongkat Ali presents a unique proposition to those looking for authentic Tongkat Ali root-to-door experience.

However, despite its long history and evolution, not all Malaysian Tongkat Ali products are created equal. Only a few meet the benchmark of quality standards.

For instance, MIT-formulated  Physta® Tongkat Ali extract is one of the best Tongkat Ali supplements in Malaysia that exceed consumer expectations and industry standards, making it one of the most popular Tongkat Ali brands on Amazon.

At the end, Malaysia will always be known for exceptional Government-backed quality Tongkat Ali products with quality peer-reviewed clinical trials that meet world standards.

If you are buying one, do check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section for more guidance on Malaysian Tongkat Ali and others.

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 .

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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