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Does Tongkat Ali Work? I Took It And Tested My Testosterone To Find Out

Does Tongkat Ali Work? I Took It And Tested My Testosterone To Find Out

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I’m sure you’ve seen that guy at the gym who’s always whipping out his silverback gorilla impression, strutting about with his chest pushed out in an attempt to assert dominance. Or maybe you’re that guy, and you’re doing it to attract the ladies (or men, it’s 2018) by making them think you’re the manliest of all.

But what exactly does manliness constitute?

From a scientific point of view, testosterone is what makes men stronger and leaner than women. It is also the thing that contributes to their supposed virility. Naturally, it is assumed by many that the more testosterone you have, the more ‘manly’ you are.

Accordingly, men who lack in this department often look to alternatives like pills, gels, or even testosterone injections. Here in Southeast Asia, some men are also known to take traditional remedies to supplement their masculinity and sexual performance.

One such product is the root of Eurycoma Longifolia, better known as Tongkat Ali.

Tongkat Ali: Illustrated on watercolour between 1803-1818 for then Resident Of Malacca, William Farquhar. (Credit:
Tongkat Ali: Illustrated on watercolour between 1803-1818 for then Resident Of Malacca, William Farquhar. (Credit:
As the benefits of Tongkat Ali have not been backed by science, it remains more of an unfounded myth than fact.

Yet as a millennial who believes wholeheartedly in the efficacy of modern Western medicine, I can’t deny that I’m at least a little bit curious.

With so many different Tongkat Ali products out there at hugely differing prices offering the same outcome, I realised that the only way to pass judgment on this was to actually measure the amount of testosterone coursing through my veins after taking it.

First test results.
First test results.
Before I started on any Tongkat Ali supplements, I took a first testosterone test to determine what my baseline level of testosterone was. This would act as the control.

Walking into the clinic, I found myself lowering my voice as my insecurities surfaced. As they chuckled, the nurses told me that they’d never seen anyone as young as myself come for a testosterone test before.

Eventually, blood was drawn and the results came back within a day.

My testosterone was revealed to be 11.20 nmol/L, within the “normal” range for a healthy male my age, which is between 8.76 nmol/L to 27.85 nmol/L.

Yet on seeing the results state that my testosterone levels are classified as “Low Normal”, I felt inclined to object. I wanted to argue that on the contrary, I am an individual who has a lot of sexual intercourse with a harem of hand-selected women, all with physical traits that match mine—that of physical perfection.

But of course, this was just my insecurities surfacing again. Objectively, I should only worry if I’m also experiencing symptoms such as a loss in sex-drive or a decrease of muscle mass.

And so I go on to purchase two Tongkat Ali products. I would then take each one for five days in a row to ensure a fair experiment.


Wild Tongkat Ali Tea Bags ($5)

The first product was one I found online. Dubious, I know. But if I were an insecure older man who believes in natural remedies, isn’t this exactly what I would do? While these tea bags usually cost $20, I got them for $5 because of an online-exclusive sale.

After soaking the tea bag in hot water for 10 minutes, I took my first sip of the elixir of testosterone before instantaneously spitting it back into my mug. If you think the Chinese herbs your grandmother brewed for you before your PSLE were bitter, you have to try this concoction which exemplifies Tongkat Ali’s trademark bitter taste.

Nevertheless, for the next five days, I downed it like a sailor with his mead. The assault on my tastebuds would not get in the way of pursuing scientific truth.

Second test results.
Second test results.
Test results showed a slight increase, and my testosterone clocked in at 12.50 nmol/L (up from 11.20).

This increase seemed to only be reflected on paper. In reality, I felt no different than I normally would, although there was an extra bounce in my step and I did ten more pushups than I normally would’ve during my daily workout.

Dr Tay, a medical practitioner at a local hospital, told me that while my results were at a borderline low, there are a number of variables that can drive testosterone levels down. These include obesity, inherited conditions (undescended testicles, Klinefelter’s Syndrome), liver problems, the first being something that I suffer from.

Maybe Tongkat Ali isn’t that much of a myth after all.

At $50, this product cost ten times as much as the tea bags, but came in the form of capsules. If I can reap the benefits that Tongkat Ali has to offer without having to endure the ordeal of bitterness, then I think the price is fully justified.

I took four of the dark orange and black pills everyday. Two when I get up from bed, and two just before I turned in. After following the routine for five days, I did feel more energised than I normally would’ve. I walked into the clinic with an air of confidence as I took my final test.

Final test results.
Final test results.
I was shocked when looked at the results for the first time. At 16.33 nmol/L, it was almost a 50% increase in testosterone from my baseline test!

Perhaps the direct consumption of the Tongkat Ali root powder was more effective than merely drinking it in tea-form.

Now if only a nuclear blast would wipe out the entire planet with the exception of one adult female and myself. Then I would finally get the chance to repopulate planet Earth within two decades. Heck, I might even get silver for my IPPT.

I certainly had no business taking Tongkat Ali, but the supplements did have a noticeable effect on me. Sure, there are a host of other variables that can affect testosterone levels, and as Dr Tay told me: if you are not experiencing symptoms, then your Low Normal levels of testosterone do not mean anything, especially when you are in your twenties or thirties.

To conclude, Tongkat Ali has been taken for such a long time by so many people, and it seems almost churlish to just brush it off as a myth just because it has not been scientifically proven to work yet. It certainly worked for me. If I were to start experiencing symptoms of andropause in the future, I know that I would be turning to Ali’s Walking Stick to prop up my manhood.

And even if it doesn’t increase your testosterone levels, the placebo effect of taking Tongkat Ali might make it a worthwhile investment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel like getting into a fight.

Disclaimer: Tongkat Ali is a supplement and is not regulated in Singapore. Please do proper research on the product you intend to buy, and always buy from a reputable source.

Have you taken Tongkat Ali? What effects did it have on you? Tell us your worst stories at

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Shaun Tan Staff writer