Maca vs. Tongkat Ali: Similarities & Differences Explained

Maca and tongkat ali are two herbs that are often compared to each other due to their similar benefits for hormonal health. Before you make a decision on which one …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Maca and tongkat ali are two herbs that are often compared to each other due to their similar benefits for hormonal health.

Before you make a decision on which one to buy, there are a few key distinctions between these two herbs.

We’ll dig deep into the similarities and differences between maca vs. tongkat ali in this article.

maca vs. tongkat ali: similarities and differences

Maca Overview & Uses:

Maca is a superfood in the Brassicaceae family that grows in the Andes mountains of Peru.

Maca is known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii. It’s also commonly called Peruvian ginseng.

This plant can be taken in supplement form, as a powder, or mixed in maca coffee.

It was traditionally used as a food source by ancient peoples in the Andes. Maca is now commonly used as a dietary supplement. Various studies show maca helps to support libido and energy. It’s also said to have brain-protecting properties.

Below are the top research-backed health benefits of maca.

maca vs. tongkat ali: benefits of maca

1. May Increase Sexual Drive

Research, and anecdotal evidence, indicates that maca may be helpful for increasing libido and sexual drive.

A 12-week study found that maca root supplements helped to improve sexual drive in men. The researchers saw an improvement in libido in the maca group after 2 months of treatment (3g per day dose). It was noted that although maca helped to improve sexual drive, it was not found to impact hormone production.

One other study involving women with low sex drive found that a 3g dose of maca daily worked to improve sexual desire. The researchers noted that the maca powder was well tolerated and safe.

2. May Improve Energy & Stamina

Maca has also been shown to help improve energy and stamina.

A study discovered the impact of maca on athletic performance. The researchers found that athletic performance increased over 10% on average. According to these findings, maca may be able to improve physical performance for most individuals, not just athletes.

Another study found that maca root powder helped to improve self-reported energy levels in men. The 3g per day dose seemed to be the most effective for energy levels.

3. May Support Brain Health

Various studies have noted that maca may benefit brain health. It’s been shown to support a healthy mood, as well as having brain protective properties.

An animal study found that maca supplementation increased brain function, motor coordination, and endurance. It’s thought that maca may provide similar effects for humans.

In one other experiment, black maca helped to improve memory in mice. It’s possible that the antioxidant properties of black maca played a role.

Learn more about the health benefits of maca root.

Tongkat Ali Overview & Uses:

Tongkat ali is a tall, shrubby tree that grows in sandy soil. It grows throughout Southeast Asia.

Other names for this herb include Malaysia Ginseng, Longjack, Pasak Bumi, and Tung Saw.

Tongkat ali has a number of different phytochemicals which are thought to provide health benefits. These compounds include:

  • eurycomanone
  • eurycomaoside
  • eurycolactone

This herb has been used traditionally to increase sexual drive. Modern research backs this up and shows that tongkat ali may help improve testosterone and libido.

We’ll dig into the top research-backed benefits of tongkat ali below.

maca vs. tongkat ali: health benefits of tongkat ali

1. May Increase Testosterone Levels

Most of the research on tongkat ali has been related to testosterone production and sexual function. A variety of different clinical trials indicates that tongkat ali supports increased testosterone levels.

A clinical trial involving 45 men found that taking 200mg of tongkat ali and working out consistently helped to increase testosterone levels and sexual function.

Another study involving 109 men found that taking 300mg of tongkat ali for 3 months improved overall quality of life, erectile function, sex drive, and sperm quality.

2. May Boost Physical Strength & Power

Not only does tongkat ali improve sex drive, but research shows it also boosts exercise performance, including strength and power. This is thought to be due to the increases in testosterone that have been observed with tongkat ali usage.

A study involving 45 men with low testosterone levels found that tongkat ali and regular exercise improved peak force production over the course of 6-months. It also was found to lower androgen deficiency symptoms, including low energy, low sex drive, decreased strength, and feeling depressed.

Another study found that a combination of weightlifting and 200mg of tongkat ali improved average, and peak, power output. It should be noted that resistance training alone leads to improvements in strength and power, but tongkat ali supplementation also seemed to improve output.

3. May Help With Stress Management

Beyond the physical benefits, tongkat ali may have some mental health benefits too, such as reducing stress and improving mood.

A clinical study involving 63 individuals with high-stress levels found that tongkat ali reduced stress, anger, and mental fog levels. Additionally, it improved testosterone levels and lowered cortisol levels, indicating a healthier overall hormonal profile. 

Another study involving 93 stressed individuals found that taking tongkat ali alongside a multivitamin appeared to support mental health and emotional well-being. It also helped to reduce stress levels.

Learn more about the health benefits of tongkat ali.

Maca vs. Tongkat Ali: Similarities & Differences

When it comes to comparing maca vs. tongkat ali, there are many similarities and differences.

First, both tongkat ali and maca help to promote sexual function. This makes it a great option for those looking to naturally boost their libido.

Additionally, maca and tongkat ali have been found to improve physical performance. This can be helpful for athletes competing in sports or individuals that are looking to improve their energy levels and endurance.

However, while both tongkat ali and maca help to improve sexual function, they do this via different mechanisms.

Maca helps to increase libido but does not have the ability to increase testosterone production. It’s thought that maca’s mechanism of action is through its nutrient profile, which is rich in minerals.

On the other hand, tongkat ali appears to be able to increase testosterone levels. Increased testosterone levels help increase sex drive and a host of other factors.

Additionally, maca has been shown in a handful of studies to have brain protective effects. It’s thought to be a helpful food/supplement for staving off cognitive decline. Tongkat ali doesn’t provide this benefit.

On the other hand, tongkat ali appears to have the ability to help reduce stress and anxiety levels. While the exact mechanism of action isn’t clearly understood at this time, this benefit can be very impactful as anxiety levels are at an all time high throughout the United States.

Maca vs. Tongkat Ali: Which is right for you?

Think of tongkat ali as a testosterone-boosting herb that helps to improve physical performance. It may improve physical strength, and may also have the ability to reduce anxiety levels.

Maca’s primary ability is to increase libido. It also has the secondary benefit of being able to improve physical energy and endurance. It may also help with supporting long-term brain health.

If you are looking to improve your hormonal profile and increase your physical capacity, then tongkat ali may be the best herb for you. Its stress-reducing properties are a great secondary benefit.

If your hormone levels are in-check and you’re looking to improve your libido, then maca might be right for you. It’s a nutrient-rich herb that can help to provide key nutrients for your body. Its energizing properties are a helpful secondary benefit.

Can You Take Maca and Tongkat Ali Together?

Yes, you can take maca and tongkat ali together.

These herbs do not have any known negative interactions when taken together.

These herbs may be a helpful combination for increasing libido, hormone production, and energy levels.

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

Herbs and supplements, like anything else, have the potential to interact negatively with your body.

Maca is generally well tolerated and safe for most individuals. You can find a full safety profile review of maca here.

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

A safety review showed that tongkat ali may be harmful in high doses. Taking 200mg-400mg is generally recommended.

You can find our full safety review of tongkat here.

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

Conclusion:

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

Consider testing each herb 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.