Ashwagandha vs. Tongkat Ali: Similarities & Differences Explained

Ashwagandha and tongkat ali are two herbs that are often compared due to their health benefits on male hormone health and sexual function. Both herbs have a long history of …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Ashwagandha and tongkat ali are two herbs that are often compared due to their health benefits on male hormone health and sexual function.

Both herbs have a long history of use as medicine, but they differ in their origins, uses, and chemical makeup.

When deciding whether to use ashwagandha or tongkat ali, it is important to consider the differences between these two herbs.

This article will delve into the similarities and differences between ashwagandha vs. tongkat ali in detail.

ashwagandha vs. tongkat ali - similarities  and differences

Ashwagandha vs. Tongkat Ali: Similarities & Differences Explained

When it comes to comparing ashwagandha vs. tongkat ali, there are a few important similarities and differences to keep in mind.

First off, both tongkat ali and ashwagandha have been shown to increase testosterone levels, making them potential options for individuals who are looking to naturally improve their hormone levels and support sexual function.

While both ashwagandha and tongkat ali help to increase testosterone levels, they do this via different mechanisms. Researchers believe that the effects of tongkat ali in increasing testosterone levels appear to be less due to actually “stimulating” testosterone synthesis, but rather by increasing the release rate of “free” testosterone from its binding hormone, sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG).

Ashwagandha impacts testosterone levels due to its strong antioxidant properties. It’s thought that ashwagandha may protect cells in the testes from oxidative damage. The testes are where testosterone is produced, so less damage to the testes may increase overall testosterone levels.

Additionally, both tongkat ali and ashwagandha have anti-stress effects. Ashwagandha is a relaxing herb that may help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Tongkat ali is helpful for managing stress.

One of the key differences between ashwagandha and tongkat ali is the fact that ashwagandha has a sleep-supporting effect. Tongkat ali doesn’t have this same impact as it can be more of a stimulating, energizing herb.

Ashwagandha Overview:Tongkat Ali Overview:
Primary Benefit:Ashwagandha may work to lower stress and anxietyTongkat Ali shows evidence of increasing testosterone levels
Secondary Benefit(s):Ashwagandha is thought to boost testosterone productionTongkat Ali may increase physical strength and power
Part of the Plant Used:RootLeaf, root, stem, and bark
Dosage Range:300-1,000mg200-400mg
Form:Extract, powder or capsuleExtract, powder or capsule
Side Effects:Large doses may cause stomach upset,
diarrhea, or vomiting
Low probability of headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or increased heart rate
Recommended Products:Gaia Herbs | Check PriceLost Empire Herbs | Check Price

Ashwagandha vs. Tongkat Ali: Which is Right for You?

Ashwagandha can be thought of as an anti-stress herb that helps to improve resilience within the body. It also has been shown by researchers to help improve sleep quality, as well as testosterone levels.

Ashwagandha is perfect for those that are looking for an overall anti-stress boost. The added sleep benefits and hormonal uptick are nice secondary effects.

On the other hand, the benefits of tongkat ali are perfect for those who want to improve their testosterone levels and physical performance.

When comparing ashwagandha vs. tongkat ali, think of ashwagandha as being a herb for your brain (relaxing, anti-stress) and tongkat ali being for your body (testosterone levels, energy levels, etc..).

That said, ultimately, the right herb for you will depend on what your specific needs are.

It’s always best to speak with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle. They can help you determine which herb is the most suitable for your individual needs and goals.

Can You Take Ashwagandha & Tongkat Ali Together?

Yes, it’s safe to take ashwagandha and tongkat ali together. There are no known negative interactions between these two herbs, and they may have complementary effects on hormone health and stress management.

However, it is always important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any herbs, whether alone or in combination, to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

The Best Ashwagandha & Tongkat Ali Supplements:

It is crucial to select an effective, high-quality supplement from a trustworthy brand, although this can be difficult.

To make picking a supplement that works for you easier, we’ve put together a complete guide going over the Best Tongkat Ali Supplements and our Top Recommended Ashwagandha Supplements.

Recommended AshwagandhaRecommended Tongkat Ali
best ashwagandha supplementmaca vs. tongkat ali
Gaia HerbsLost Empire Herbs
•Organic, Vegan, and Gluten-Free
•Ecologically Harvested in Siberia
•Concentrated Dosage
•Available as a Powder or as Capsules
•3rd Party Tested
•Concentrated Dosage

Ashwagandha Overview & Uses:

Ashwagandha, also called “Indian ginseng”, is a well-known herb in Ayurvedic medicine (an Indian form of medicine). It has a long history of being used in India as a natural treatment for various health issues. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to decrease stress and boost the immune system.

Recent scientific studies have shown that ashwagandha supplementation may be helpful in managing anxiety, enhancing hormone production, and improving sleep.

It is considered to be an adaptogenic herb, that is, a herb that helps the body adapt to stress.

Ashwagandha is an herb that is also commonly compared to herbs like maca and cistanche.

ashwagandha vs. tongkat ali - ashwagandha

1. May Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that ashwagandha may be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

One study found that daily supplementation with 300mg of ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced self-reported levels of stress and anxiety in participants.

Another study found that ashwagandha was effective in reducing anxiety and cortisol levels in humans, as determined by a variety of standardized anxiety measures.

These findings suggest that ashwagandha may be a helpful herbal remedy for anxiety and stress. However, more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits and risks when used for mental health and stress reduction.

2. May Increase Testosterone Levels

Ashwagandha has been shown to benefit both men’s and women’s health, research indicates that ashwagandha may have benefits for testosterone production and athletic performance.

One study involving aging, overweight males found that ashwagandha was able to boost testosterone levels by over 14%. The researchers also noted a 18% increase in DHEA-S levels among the study participants.

Another study found that daily ashwagandha supplementation was effective in enhancing upper and lower body strength. The researchers also observed an increase in muscle mass in the study participants.

Additionally, a separate study found that ashwagandha was effective in raising testosterone levels and promoting muscle mass and strength growth.

These findings indicate that ashwagandha may be a helpful natural supplement for improving athletic performance and increasing testosterone production. However, additional research is necessary to fully understand its potential benefits and risks.

3. May Improve Sleep Quality

Several clinical studies have suggested that ashwagandha may have potential benefits for sleep quality and insomnia.

One study found that ashwagandha had a positive impact on various sleep disorders in people with poor sleep quality.

Another study compared the effects of ashwagandha on individuals with and without insomnia and found that it improved sleep quality in both groups.

These findings suggest that ashwagandha may be a useful herbal remedy for improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia. However, more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks.

You can learn more about ashwagandha’s benefits in our comprehensive article.

Tongkat Ali Overview:

Tongkat ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia or Malaysian ginseng, is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine for various purposes, including increasing energy and improving male fertility.

There is scientific evidence to support the use of tongkat ali for improving male fertility and sexual function, although the amount of research that has been conducted to-date is still limited. Additional research indicates that this herb may also possess benefits for women’s health.

Tongkat ali is thought to work by increasing testosterone levels by increasing the release rate of free testosterone in the body.

This herb contains a variety of phytochemicals that are thought to provide health benefits, including:

Below is a quick overview of the health benefits of tongkat ali.

ashwagandha vs. tongkat ali - tongkat ali

1. May Improve Testosterone Levels

Various clinical trials indicate that taking a tongkat ali supplement may boost testosterone production.

A clinical trial involving 45 men found that tongkat ali, along with daily exercise, to improvements in erectile dysfunction and testosterone levels.

Another clinical trial involving 109 men discovered that taking 300mg of tongkat ali helped to improve quality of life, erectile function, and libido.

2. May Improve Physical Strength & Energy

Research shows that tongkat ali may improve exercise performance, including both strength and power. The reason for this benefit is thought to be due to tongkat ali’s ability to increase testosterone levels.

A study involving 45 men supplement with low testosterone found that supplementing with tongkat ali and daily exercise improved power output. It also was found to increase energy levels, sex drive, strength, and mental health.

Another study found that daily exercise and supplementing with tongkat ali improved average, and peak, power output.

It should be noted that consistent resistance training by itself leads to improvements in strength and power, but tongkat ali supplementation also appears to help improve athletic performance.

3.  May Benefit Stress Management

Not only does tongkat ali improve your physical health, but it may also have some mental health benefits like reducing stress and promoting a better mood.

A study found that tongkat ali reduced stress, anger, and mental fog levels in individuals with high-stress levels. In addition to that, tongkat ali also helped to improve testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels, indicating a healthier overall hormonal profile.

Another study involving 93 high-stress individuals found that supplementing with tongkat ali alongside a multivitamin appeared to support mental health and reduce stress levels when compared to the placebo group.

You can learn more about tongkat ali’s benefits in our comprehensive article.

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

Herbs, just like any other substance, have the potential to interact negatively with your body if used incorrectly.

Ashwagandha is typically well-tolerated and generally safe to consume for most individuals. 

A safety study showed that standard doses of ashwagandha (~300mg daily) do not appear to be associated with any negative side effects or adverse reactions.

You can find our full safety review of ashwagandha here.

Tongkat ali is also generally well tolerated and generally safe to consume for most individuals. 

A recent safety study indicated that tongkat ali may be harmful in large doses. Taking 200mg-400mg of Eurycoma longifolia per day is generally recommended.

You can find our full safety review of tongkat ali here.

As with all supplements, it’s best to check in with your personal physician prior trying something new.


As you can see, taking either ashwagandha or tongkat ali is generally well-tolerated and safe to consume.

Consider testing each one of these herbs for a few weeks before deciding between them.

You may discover that one is superior to the other, or vice versa! Alternatively, combine them to see whether you get a synergistic effect.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.