Tongkat Ali Safety: Side Effects & Interactions

Tongkat Ali is an herb that was used in traditional medicine primarily for its aphrodisiac and libido-enhancing properties, as well as for fevers, infections, and digestive ailments. Its use has …

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Written by: Jack Cincotta, MS
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Tongkat Ali is an herb that was used in traditional medicine primarily for its aphrodisiac and libido-enhancing properties, as well as for fevers, infections, and digestive ailments.

Its use has grown in popularity today for similar reasons, with many individuals taking Tongkat Ali to improve testosterone levels and boost sexual function. 

As this herb continues to be used, it’s necessary to outline the safety of Tongkat Ali. This article covers the possible side effects and drug interactions of Tongkat Ali, as well as the optimal dosing regimen. 

tongkat ali safety and side effects

Tongkat Ali Overview:

Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia) is a tall, shrubby tree that’s native to various Southeast Asian countries. It grows primarily in lowland forests and prefers acidic soil and relatively high humidity. 

The name Tongkat Ali, when translated means “Ali’s walking stick”, a reference to its aphrodisiac properties. This herb goes by many other names depending on the region, such as Longjack, Ali’s Umbrella, and Malaysian Ginseng. 

Tongkat Ali is filled with several classes of bioactive compounds, which come from the leaves, roots, stem, and bark. These compounds include:

  • Quassinoids
  • Alkaloids
  • Triterpenes
  • Flavonoids

The quassinoid compounds in Tongkat Ali are by far the most researched due to connection with various health benefits. Some of the main quassinoids found in Tongkat Ali that may be beneficial are eurycomanone, eurycomaoside, and eurycolactone. 

You can learn more about the quassinoid Eurycomanone here.

Health Benefits of Tongkat Ali:

Tongkat Ali has several potential health benefits for women and men, all of which are backed by research studies. Listed below are the main possible benefits of Tongkat Ali

  • May Increase Testosterone & Sexual Function – A recent systematic review showed that Tongkat Ali is effective for increasing testosterone levels in healthy men and men with hypogonadism (low testosterone). Other research indicates that Tongkat Ali may also be useful for increasing libido, erectile function, and other aspects of sexual health (similar to herbs such as Fadogia agrestis and Cistanche.)
  • May Enhance Athletic Performance – Various studies have indicated that Tongkat Ali may offer a wide variety of performance benefits, such as increased strength and power, decreased fatigue, and improved body composition and hormonal status. 
  • May Reduce Stress – There are a few studies, including one clinical trial, which shows that Tongkat Ali may be able to reduce stress and tension. This is also noted by significant reductions in cortisol (a stress hormone). 
  • May Improve Blood Sugar – Preliminary studies done on animals show that Tongkat Ali may be able to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. 


Research indicates that Tongkat Ali may possess benefits for testosterone production, athletic performance, stress, and blood sugar levels.

Tongkat Ali Safety:

Tongkat Ali is safe to use. Overall, research shows that Tongkat Ali is safe to consume within the recommended dosage range.

Additionally, Tongkat Ali has been safely used in many traditional medicine systems in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years with minimal noted complaints.

However, certain groups of people may have a higher risk of side effects when supplementing with Tongkat Ali. Specifically, individuals with weakened immune systems should use Tongkat Ali with caution.

Tongkat Ali should not be used by anyone with heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, or certain cancers.

Finally, due to lack of data, it should not be used in women who are pregnant or nursing.

Is Tongkat Ali Safe?

Yes, Tongkat Ali is safe to use by most consumers. Those with weak immune systems should use this herb with caution and those with certain cancers or diseases of the heart, liver, or kidney should not take this herb. We recommend speaking with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine.

What Medications Should Not Be Taken With Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat Ali may interact with some medications.

Firstly, Tongkat Ali may interact with hypoglycemic (blood sugar-lowering) medications, such as glipizide, metformin, and miglitol. 

Tongkat Ali may also decrease the bioavailability of propranolol (a drug for high blood pressure and heart health). 

It’s always best to talk with your doctor before taking any supplement, even if you aren’t on one of the medications listed above, as there is always a chance for interactions.

tongkat ali safety, side effects, and dosage

Tongkat Ali Side Effects:

Tongkat Ali generally does not have any known major side effects. However, there are always possible side effects with any dietary supplements.

Some side effects of Tongkat Ali that may occur are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate

These side effects are more likely to occur when Tongkat Ali is consumed above the recommended dose. 

How Much Tongkat Ali Should I Take?

Research shows that most individuals should supplement with 200 to 400mg of Tongkat Ali per day. This is based off many clinical trials that have been conducted on Tongkat Ali, which allows for an easily identifiable dosage.

This dose not only offers potential health benefits, but is also well below the dose which may cause significant adverse effects. 

Additionally, it’s best to look for a supplement that contains a 100:1 concentration of eurycomanone. 

It’s important to select a Tongkat Ali supplement that will work for you; Click here to read about the best Tongkat Ali Supplements.

Tongkat Ali Dosage:

Research indicates that taking between 200mg and 400mg of Tongkat Ali daily is an effective dosage.

When Should I Take Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat Ali is best used when taken in the morning or early afternoon. This eliminates the possibility of any sleeping difficulties, as some users report that Tongkat Ali interferes with sleep although this side effect is relatively rare.

Also, it’s best to take Tongkat Ali at the same time each day, mainly to make sure you stay consistent with it and build a habit.

Should I Cycle Tongkat Ali?

It’s unclear right now whether you should cycle Tongkat Ali. Most of the research studies gave Tongkat Ali continuously to subjects for several weeks at a time, so it seems fine to take every day but not necessarily indefinitely.

With that said, many supplement manufacturers of Tongkat Ali recommend taking a periodical break from Tongkat Ali to make sure that the body maintains it’s natural hormonal sensitivity and responsivity.

Ultimately, more research is needed to confirm whether cycling Tongkat Ali is truly needed and what the ideal cycle looks like, if it is needed.

If one is interested in cycling Tongkat Ali, one of the most common approaches is to follow a 5:2 schedule. Specifically, this means that one would take Tongkat Ali for five days straight, followed by two days off. This typically works best when simply taking it on the weekdays and then stopping on the weekends.

How Long Does it Take for Tongkat Ali to Work?

Tongkat Ali seems to start working in the body in as little as three to five days. However, one should take Tongkat Ali for at least four to six weeks to experience the greatest benefits, particularly for testosterone and sexual function. 


Daily supplementation with Tongkat Ali is thought to begin promoting health benefits in as little as three to five days.

Tongkat Ali vs. Other Herbs:

Tongkat ali is often compared with many other different types of herbs. We have compiled a few helpful articles going over common comparisons.

Tongkat Ali vs. Ashwagandha: Similarities & Differences Explained

• Tongkat Ali vs. Cistanche: Similarities & Differences Explained

Tongkat Ali vs. Fadogia agrestis: Similarities & Differences Explained

• Tongkat Ali vs. Maca: Similarities & Differences Explained

Read More:

Below, we’ve put together several more articles going over additional information regarding the herb Tongkat Ali.

5 Benefits of Eurycomanone: Dosage & Safety

6 Benefits of Tongkat Ali: Dosage & Safety

3 Benefits of Tongkat Ali for Women

Tongkat Ali for Testosterone

side effects and tongkat ali safety


Tongkat Ali is a safe, non-toxic herb for most individuals when used in recommended doses. There are possible side effects, such as headache, nausea, and dizziness, but these aren’t very common and usually only happen when consuming above the recommended dose.

There are also select groups of people who may need to use caution or avoid Tongkat Ali altogether, such as people with weakened immune systems or those taking blood sugar-lowering medications. 

Overall, most people can safely supplement with Tongkat Ali in the range of 200 to 400mg per day for several weeks at a time. In turn, one may receive potential health benefits, such as enhanced testosterone and sexual function, stress reduction, and improved athletic performance. 

As always, it’s essential to talk with your doctor to ensure that Tongkat Ali is safe for you to supplement with. 

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About Jack Cincotta, MS

Jack has a Master of Science degree in Psychology and is also an AADP® Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and AFPA® Certified Holistic Health Coach. His passion is to help people develop optimal levels of health, particularly mental health.