Last Updated : 16th December 2020
There are two popular herbal roots that are widely discussed and consumed by millions around the world – i.e Tongkat Ali (Malaysian Ginseng) and Panax Ginseng (Chinese Ginseng).
Consumed in coffee and tea for centuries, this herbal culture is underpinned by a strong belief in natural wellness.
At a glance, both look rather similar yellowish colour and texture. However, they come from a different family of trees – each contains unique bio-active compounds that can benefit health in many ways.
But which is better?
Before firstly, there are things you need to know.
Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng are not the same
Although Tongkat Ali is commonly referred to as Malaysian Ginseng, both Panax and Tongkat Ali comes from different family trees.
Both of these plants are native and grows in different parts of the world too.
- Tongkat Ali are found and harvested in Malaysia and Indonesia
- Panax Ginseng are cultivated in Northeast of China and Korean Peninsula
To the untrained eyes, both ginsengs looks the same. An image of Tongkat Ali (Malaysian Ginseng) shown on the left and Panax Ginseng (Chinese Ginseng) on the right.
Now from the above picture, can you guess which one is Tongkat Ali and which one is Panax Ginseng?
I bet you cannot tell the difference at first glance.
But here is another important thing to know.
Both Panax Ginseng and Tongkat Ali contain similar bioactive ingredients
Studies have shown that both herbs contains similar active ingredients such as saponin and polysaccharides but in different quantities.
Polysaccharides are polymeric carbohydrates that are mainly used for storing energy and providing support to cells and tissues.
Studies have shown that sulfate polysaccharides exhibit immunomodulatory, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities including anti-HIV infection, herpes, and hepatitis viruses.
Saponin is widely used in vaccine formulations to regulate immune function. Studies showed that saponin reduces cholesterol levels, kill disease-causing bacteria, scavenge oxidative stress and inhibit tumor growth.
Saponins have been associated with various biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer properties.
Panax Ginseng contains lower saponin than Tongkat Ali
To the end of 2012, at least 289 saponins were reported by scientists from eleven different Panax species. On average the percentage of saponin found in Panax Ginseng is between 2 – 3%.
However, the highest amount of saponin that can be extracted from panax ginseng using freeze-dried and aqueous is around 13.87% from dry weight of ginseng. This was done in an independent study performed by Naturex (USA) using chromatography test from freeze-dried ginseng extract in Labconco, USA.
The amount of saponin in Tongkat Ali is higher than Panax Ginseng, which delivers higher benefits.
Comparatively, freeze-dried Physta® Tongkat Ali showed saponin content as high as 48% using chromatography tests, making one of the more potent ginseng that is on the market today.
So between Panax Ginseng vs Tongkat Ali, if the quantity of saponin matters to you, then Tongkat Ali is a clear winner.
But lets pause for a second.
Which herb is more beneficial?
To the earlier question which herb has more advantage, this comes down to your health objectives or desired outcomes.
Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng are often misunderstood as both contain similar bio-active ingredients that are beneficial to your health in many ways.
Both Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng are found to increase your testosterone levels but are you looking for a wider range of benefits?
If you are treating Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng as a natural viagra, then you may want to widen your perspective.
Picking a clear winner largely depends on your desired outcomes and expectations.
Now let’s examine the health benefits from Panax Ginseng and Tongkat Ali so you can make a better judgement.
TONGKAT ALI POTENTIAL BENEFITS
Technology extraction and modern science have made Tongkat Ali more potent, versatile and safe. You can consume it daily, or when you need it.
The versatility of Tongkat Ali coupled with proven health benefits has made it popular amongst busy professionals, sports professionals and athletes. Plant-based supplements have been found to boost vitality and safe to be consumed.
Here is a glimpse of Tongkat Ali benefits:
1. Aphrodisiac effects
Tongkat Ali (also named as Malaysia’s home-grown ‘Viagra’) has been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries. Studies show positive effects and relatively high potency compared to other herbs. Two studies show an increased libido in men in the range between 8.4 and 8.7% and 162% improvement in erection time.
More of it here.
2. Boosting testosterone
It helps you produce a higher amount of testosterone by fixing any disturbance that you may have regarding testosterone production. It also unlocks free testosterone. Tongkat Ali contains the compounds 13-alpha epoxy Eurycomanone that helps boosting the testosterone by up to 122% in women and by up to 61% in men.
More of it here.
3. Improves fertility
If you are a man and reading this, you should know that Tongkat Ali will bring you 65% more sperm and 58% more sperm motility. A study published in 2010 reported the changes in sperm quality in 75 men who were given 200mg of Tongkat Ali each day for three months. Their sperm quality improved significantly, and 15% of participants reported unplanned pregnancies following the treatment.
4. Stress reliever
When your body and mind are under stress, the level of cortisol will increase while the testosterone level is suppressed.
Tongkat Ali takes care of your levels of stress by affecting your endocrine system. Studies showed it reduces anger by 11% and tension by 12% after 4 weeks of consuming Tongkat Ali.
More of it here
5. Fat loss and muscle gain
Are you feeling fatty or bloated? Don’t worry! Tongkat Ali is especially popular natural supplement among bodybuilders who are looking to change their muscle to fat ratio. However, you don’t need to be a pro athlete to feel the potential improvements.
A promising Malaysian study published in 2002 showed that Tongkat Ali has the potential to improve body mass and decreased the percentage of body fat.
6. Energy booster
The rise in energy that you’ll get from this root can help you slide through the busy day by assisting your hormone’s balance with the ability to speed up metabolism to complement your fitness regime.
The mechanism works by rising your testosterone hormones and by regulating it improve other functions of your body. Hence this is why Tongkat Ali is highly attractive amongst the fitness community – pre-mixed Tongkat Ali with other Maca herbs as pre-work out drinks proved to be popular until today.
GINSENG POTENTIAL BENEFITS
Ginseng has been consumed for centuries, and perhaps longer than the discovery of Tongkat Ali.
The tradition of using Ginseng to heal and improve health originates from mainland China. You may find Ginseng tea in every corner of the city and now largely consumed as part of a person’s daily diet.
The amount of Ginseng contains in each tea varies largely and potency of it depends largely on the extraction technology and the soil used to harvest the plant.
1. Improves “the notorious ED”
There is significant evidence that after 12 weeks of the experiment, this Panax Ginseng is significantly improving erectile dysfunction. Seventy-eight men from 25–50 years of age; suffering from mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, participated in this study.
Researchers concluded that Ginseng might be an effective alternative treatment for impotence.
As active ingredients of Ginseng, ginsenosides, are causing increased release of nitric oxide, which spreads the blood vessels and allows better blood flow to the penis.
2. Promotes longevity
In 1933 the New York Times published a news article about the death of Professor Li Chung Jun, who lived for two and a half centuries!
Yes, you read it right. His age, 256 years, was officially confirmed by the Chinese government and several independent researchers. Allegedly, the long-lived Li Cung outlived 23 women. He experienced eleven generations of his descendants. The herbs he collected and used helped him to reach such an astonishing age.
Guess what herb was in his diet mix?!
3. Potent Antioxidant
Clear the issues that you are not even aware of.
Ginseng has beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some test studies have shown that Ginseng extracts could inhibit inflammation and increase antioxidant capacity in cells.
4. Anti-depression & Anti-anxiety
Ginseng has an excellent anti-stress treatment, but unlike caffeine, it does not cause the so-called depressive phase. It is assumed that such action of Ginseng comes from an increase in the activity of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in the brain but without the involvement of the adrenal glands that ACTH otherwise activates.
5. May benefit brain function
The latest US study has investigated whether a pure Ginseng extract can protect the brain from toxins that cause weaker physical mobility and loss of neurons. Testing carried out in laboratory mice showed that concentrated Ginseng extract significantly reduced the induced damage and brain cell loss.
It turned out that ginsenosides act as antioxidants and protect against oxidative damage that is responsible for the development of Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.
6. Fights obesity
One study favors the use of this Chinese superfood to fight against obesity.
Remember, you need to be in great shape to get maximum for your sexual life. This is very important!
Study says: “Ginsenosides (the major active component in ginseng) may help control appetite and prevent the over intake of food energy by improving leptin resistance, and reducing the secretion of neuropeptide Y which plays a leading role in the regulation of eating behavior.”
Warnings & Side-Effects
As with other herbal supplements, recommended dosage coupled with proper diet and exercise are key to optimizing the health benefits.
There are however mild side effects of both Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng. Whilst it may not be as severe as Viagra, the common side effects include:
- sleep disorders / insomnia;
- increased irritability.
- warm & fuzzy (for Panax Ginseng)
- stomach upset
If you are seeking to compare with Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, you can read our comprehensive science-backed review here.
The severity of the side effects listed above varies from one person and there have not been any reported admission cases due to the above consumption.
However, these herbal roots are strictly prohibited for use during breastfeeding (lactation), during pregnancy due to the negative effect of the drug on the unborn baby.
In addition, it is not advisable for people diagnosed with heart problems or high blood pressure too. You should consult your nearest doctor before consuming any of the herbal products listed in this article.
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.