Tongkat ali -- "Ali's walking stick" in Malay -- is the common name of Eurycoma longifolia, also known as pasar bumi in Indonesian. A tall, slender, often branchless treelet that can reach 10 meters in height, the name comes from the equally thin and slender woody root's resemblance to a walking stick... and a bit more.


For a long time quite popular in Southeast Asia as a general tonic and for its antimalarial properties, it has recently started to make some waves in West for its reputed aphrodisiac powers as well. There is even some evidence to suggest that this is not merely snake oil: a series of Malaysian university studies have indicated that mice regularly dosed with tongkat ali have higher testosterone levels and become more sexually active than the control group. However, tongkat ali is not a Viagra-type quick cure, it must be taken regularly for days if not weeks to have an effect.

Cultivation and consumption

The downsides to tongkat ali are that it is somewhat difficult to obtain and that it tastes very bitter. Due to its popularity E. longifolia is practically extinct in the wild, and while not particularly difficult to cultivate, it takes four years to grow from seed to harvestable root. The bitter taste means that the traditional method, steeping the root in hot water, produces tea that most find rather hard to swallow. Locally, a far more common alternative are Red Bull-type energy drinks with names like Jungle King and Power Root, which combine the plant extract with vast amounts of honey or sugar and other herbs or roots like mengkudu or ginseng.

Personal experience

I've never gone on a multi-week regimen so I can't offer evidence for the aphrodisiac qualities, but a single can does provide a noticable (if temporary) pickup. If you're tired and want something non-caffeinated, you could do worse than choose tongkat ali.


Personal experience