Shilajit vs. Tongkat Ali: Which One is Best for You?

Tongkat ali and shilajit are both popular natural remedies often compared due to their potential health benefits for testosterone levels, athletic performance, and all-around energy levels and vitality. In this …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Tongkat ali and shilajit are both popular natural remedies often compared due to their potential health benefits for testosterone levels, athletic performance, and all-around energy levels and vitality.

In this article, we’ll go over the similarities and differences between tongkat ali and shilajit to determine which one is best for you.

For each herb, we’ll go over their main compounds, research-backed health benefits, dosing strategies, safety profiles, and other relevant information.

shilajit vs tongkat ali

Shilajit vs. Tongkat Ali: Similarities & Differences Explained

Tongkat ali and shilajit are unique compounds. Specifically, shilajit is a black resin from the Himalayan mountains formed over many years from the microbial decomposition of plant and other organic matter.

On the other hand, tongkat ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a true herb. It is a shrubby tree native to southeast Asia. The roots in particular are most often used due to their concentration of bioactive compounds (such as eurycomanone), but other parts such as the leaves and bark have also been used medicinally.

Tongkat ali and shilajit are both potentially useful for sexual function and hormonal health. They both seem to be able to increase testosterone levels and other key hormones, while also improving sperm quality.

These herbs may also improve athletic performance, although in different ways. Shilajit seems to increase ATP production and improve nutrient intake to the muscles, while also increasing oxygen-carrying capacity, whereas tongkat ali seems to act mainly on the muscles.

Lastly, tongkat ali and shilajit have potential health benefits for brain function and mental health. Shilajit has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the brain, which may improve memory. On the other hand, tongkat ali does have some anti-inflammatory effects, but it seems more effective for reducing stress and anxiety. 

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

tongkat ali and shilajit share a few similar health benefits, although there are also key ways that they differ. Thus, we’ll go over what the research says about tongkat ali and shilajit to determine which is best for various conditions.

For Testosterone, Fertility & Sexual Health

Clinical research shows that both tongkat ali and shilajit can increase testosterone levels (including free and total testosterone) and improve fertility, although tongkat ali has more evidence overall compared to shilajit. Moreover, tongkat ali is also more well-researched for improving libido and sexual function.

This isn’t to say that shilajit is not beneficial. It very well could be just as effective; but there simply haven’t been as many clinical studies on shilajit yet.

Therefore, tongkat ali appears slightly more effective based on current data.

For Exercise Performance

Next, consider that tongkat ali and shilajit may also have health benefits for athletic performance. Shilajit and tongkat ali seem to improve strength and muscle mass, again with a bit more research for tongkat ali. 

But shilajit may also have benefits for endurance and oxygen capacity, which includes shilajit’s ability to improve exercise efficiency at high altitudes.

So, tongkat ali seems slightly better for strength gains whereas shilajit is better for endurance although both can be taken together to increase their beneficial effects.

For Mental Health

Lastly, tongkat ali and shilajit have unique health benefits when it comes to mental health. Specifically, tongkat ali has been shown to decrease stress levels, while shilajit may be beneficial for memory and cognitive health.

As a result, individuals looking for memory improvements should go with shilajit, while those looking mainly to reduce stress are better off with tongkat ali.

Can You Take Shilajit & Tongkat Ali Together?

Yes. You can take shilajit and tongkat ali together. In fact, this may be a good choice for individuals looking to increase testosterone levels and boost athletic performance, since both of these compounds may provide those benefits.

Research shows that an effective dose of tongkat ali is generally between 200 to 400mg per day. For shilajit, the effective dose ranges between 250 to 1,000mg per day, usually taken in the morning or afternoon.

As always, it’s best to consult your primary healthcare provider before taking tongkat ali or shilajit supplement.

tongkat ali vs shilajit - benefits of shilajit

Shilajit Overview:

Shilajit is a brownish-black exudate found mainly in the Himalayan mountain regions. It was formed over millenia from the decomposition of plant and other organic matter, which is why it has a high mineral and nutrient content. 

Traditionally, shilajit was used for improving energy levels, fighting high altitude sickness, jaundice, diabetes, and several other health concerns.

Modern research shows that there are several potential benefits of shilajit, which are listed below

1. May Improve Testosterone Levels

There is some evidence that shilajit can boost testosterone levels and overall hormonal health.

In one clinical trial in middle-aged men, shilajit was shown to significantly increase total testosterone, free testosterone, and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) levels compared to the placebo. 

Other animal studies have also shown that shilajit can boost total and free testosterone.

2. May Improve Fertility

Shilajit may also improve both male and female fertility, although this herb is used especially in regard to sperm health and testicular function.

In a clinical trial on infertile men, those who took shilajit experienced an increase in total sperm count and normal sperm count, as well as a boost in testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Additionally, shilajit seemed to lower oxidative stress in the testes. 

3. May Increase Exercise Performance

Shilajit also may increase athletic performance, particularly endurance (from both a muscular and aerobic standpoint).

In one clinical trial, men who took shilajit had lower fatigue and were able to maintain higher levels of maximum strength during training compared to the control group.

The same study found that those who supplemented with shilajit had lower levels of hydroxyproline, which indicates that it was effective against collagen degradation and connective tissue damage.

4. May Benefit High Altitude Sickness

Another potential benefit of shilajit is reduced symptoms of high altitude sickness. While there isn’t any direct clinical research, there is evidence that shilajit decreases fatigue and tiredness due to its high mineral content.

Moreover, shilajit can support the immune system, decrease inflammation and oxidative stress, and support greater oxygen utilization, all of which may defend against high altitude sickness.

tongkat ali vs shilajit - benefits of tongkat ali

Tongkat Ali Overview:

Tongkat ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a shrubby tree native to various parts of Southeast Asia, such as Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Traditionally, tongkat ali was used for sexual function, libido, vitality, energy levels, fever, jaundice, and other concerns.

The roots of tongkat ali were most often used compared to other parts of the plant, although the bark, leaves, and other parts still were used at times. 

Today, modern research shows that tongkat ali (and especially its roots) seems to have several potential health benefits, which includes the following:

1. May Boost Testosterone Levels

A few clinical trials demonstrate tongkat ali’s testosterone boosting potential

In one clinical study on men with low testosterone, supplementing with tongkat ali led to significant increases in testosterone as well as a decline in aging male symptoms (e.g. fatigue, low libido) compared to the placebo.

Another clinical trial on older men showed that tongkat ali supplementation led to marked improvements in free testosterone, total testosterone, and DHEA levels compared to the control group, as well as lower cortisol levels. 

These are just two of several clinical trials which all generally show the positive effects of tongkat ali on testosterone and overall sexual function. 

2. May Improve Strength

Tongkat ali may also improve strength and help both men and women build more muscle.

In a clinical study on physically active seniors, tongkat ali supplementation led to notable increases in muscular strength and force, not to mention improved free and total testosterone levels.

Another clinical trial demonstrated tongkat ali’s ability to enhance peak force production in middle-aged men, while also decreasing aging male symptoms such as low energy levels and irritability. 

Other clinical studies on various age groups have shown similar benefits of tongkat ali for strength and power. 

3. May Reduce Stress

Tongkat ali may also reduce stress and improve overall mental health.

In one clinical trial on individuals with high stress levels, those who took tongkat ali showed decreased tension, anger, and brain fog compared to the control group. Moreover, supplementation with tongkat ali was found to reduce stress hormones (such as cortisol) when compared to the placebo.

Another clinical study found that, in individuals with moderate stress, tongkat ali supplementation led to significantly better mental health, emotional well-being, stress, and even social functioning compared to the control group.

4. May Have Anti-Diabetic Effects

There aren’t any clinical trials on the benefits of tongkat ali for diabetes. However, several animal-based studies (such as this one) have shown that tongkat ali can decrease blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance beta cell function, all of which have relevance for diabetes treatment.

Shilajit vs. Tongkat Ali: Safety & Side Effects

Studies shows that both tongkat ali and shilajit are generally safe to consume. Both of these compounds are well-tolerated and pose little risk of side effects when consumed within the recommended dosage guidelines. Below, we explain the side effects and safety profiles for each one in more detail.

Shilajit

For shilajit, evidence shows that there is little to no risk of toxicity or other safety issues when it’s consumed in the recommended amounts. Possible side effects are generally limited to upset stomach, heartburn, dizziness, and headache.

You can click here to learn more regarding the safety and potential side effects of shilajit.

However, unpurified shilajit may contain mycotoxins, heavy metals, and other potentially harmful compounds. This is why it’s essential to only choose a shilajit supplement from well-trusted, established brands; ideally with third-party testing and available Certificates of Analysis to view.

Click here for a complete guide of our top recommended shilajit supplements.

Also, there are no definitive interactions with shilajit established in the literature. Yet, based on its bioactive effects, shilajit may interact with:

  • Medications that slow blood clotting
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Hypoglycemics or other anti-diabetic medications

Tongkat Ali

Tongkat ali is also generally regarded as safe to use when consumed in the recommended dosage range. Still, some people may experience mild potential side effects, such as headache, nausea, diarrhea, and increased heart rate. 

You can click here to learn more about the safety and side effects of tongkat ali.

Research shows that certain groups of people may have a higher risk of side effects when supplementing, which includes those with weakened immune systems, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, as well as in pregnant or nursing women.

Additionally, Tongkat Ali may interact with hypoglycemic medications as well as certain drugs for high blood pressure. 

Click here for an in-depth overview of our top recommended tongkat ali supplements.

Conclusion:

Tongkat ali and shilajit share a similar panel of potential benefits, although there are a few distinctions between the two as well. 

Both compounds seem beneficial for helping increase testosterone levels, fertility, and sexual function, as well as for boosting athletic performance. Thus, either can be taken, or they can be supplemented together to possibly experience greater effects.

When it comes to mental health, shilajit is better for memory and cognitive function whereas tongkat ali appears to be more useful for stress reduction.

Lastly, shilajit also has unique potential benefits to help fight high altitude sickness, whereas tongkat ali is more unique in its ability to manage blood sugar levels.

Overall, both tongkat ali and shilajit are potentially effective for several health concerns and are generally safe to use. 

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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.