Tongkat Ali vs. Cistanche: Similarities & Differences Explained

Tongkat ali and cistanche are two herbs that are often compared to each other due to their comparable health benefits for male hormone health. Before you make a decision about …

Photo of author
Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
Published on:

Tongkat ali and cistanche are two herbs that are often compared to each other due to their comparable health benefits for male hormone health.

Before you make a decision about which herb to buy, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.

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

tongkat ali vs. cistanche

Tongkat Ali vs. Cistanche: Similarities & Differences Explained

When it comes to comparing tongkat ali vs. cistanche, there are a few key similarities and differences.

First, both cistanche and tongkat ali have been shown to improve hormone levels in women and men. This makes both herbs a great option for those looking to naturally boost their testosterone levels.

Additionally, both cistanche and tongkat ali have been shown to benefit brain health. This can be helpful for individuals that are looking to preserve brain function and maintain mental health.

However, while both tongkat ali and cistanche help to support brain health, they do this via different mechanisms.

Tongkat ali helps to improve mood and mental health. This is helpful for individuals struggling with high stress levels and anxiety.

Cistanche helps to preserve brain function and can be healthy for long-term brain health. As an adaptogen, cistanche may also help with anxiety (some users report this), however, this finding has not been studied in depth at this time.

Another key difference between tongkat ali vs. cistanche is that tongkat ali has a stimulating effect on the body. This can help to energize the body and improve physical performance and output.

Cistanche doesn’t have this same ability. For most users, it’s not a stimulating herb. It tends to work slower, at a deeper level, to restore energy and balance the body (similar to other adaptogens).

Cistanche Overview:Tongkat Ali Overview:
Primary Benefit:Cistanche may promote male hormone healthTongkat Ali shows evidence of promoting testosterone production
Secondary Benefit(s):Cistanche may benefit brain function and healthTongkat Ali may boost physical
strength and power
Part of the Plant Used:StemLeaf, root, stem, and bark
Dosage Range:400-4,000mg200-400mg
Form:Extract, powder or capsuleExtract, powder or capsule
Side Effects:Large doses may result in nausea, vomiting or skin irritationLow probability of headaches,
nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or increased heart rate
Recommended Products:Lost Empire Herbs | Check PriceLost Empire Herbs | Check Price

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

You may be asking, tongkat ali or cistanche, which is the best supplement for me?

Tongkat ali is a testosterone-boosting herb that can help to improve physical performance. It may also have the ability to reduce anxiety levels and support mental health.

Cistanche’s primary ability is to support hormone health and improve testosterone levels. It also has the secondary benefit of being able to support long-term brain health and function.

If you are looking to improve your hormonal profile and increase your physical strength, then tongkat ali may be the best herb for you. Its mental stress-reducing properties are a great secondary benefit. It also has a stimulating effect, which some users enjoy as a midday pick-me-up.

If you are looking to boost your hormone levels, but are sensitive to stimulants, then cistanche might be right for you. It also has an adaptogenic effect that may help to improve long-term stress resilience.

You can click here for more information about recommended dosages of cistanche.

You can also click here for a complete overview of the best cistanche supplements.

Can You Take Tongkat Ali & Cistanche Together?

Yes, you can take tongkat ali and cistanche together. These two herbs do not have any known negative interactions when taken together.

In fact, these herbs may be a helpful combination for increasing testosterone levels, energy output, and supporting overall mental health.

The Best Cistanche & Tongkat Ali Supplements:

You can learn more about the top-rated brands for both the Best Cistanche Supplements and Best Tongkat Ali Supplements.

Recommended CistancheRecommended Tongkat Ali
maca vs. tongkat ali
Lost Empire HerbsLost Empire Herbs
• 8:1 Dual Extract
•Independently Lab Tested
• Free of GMOs, Fillers and Preservatives
•Available as a Powder or as Capsules
•3rd Party Tested
•Concentrated Dosage

The Botanical Institute is supported by our readers. We sometimes earn affiliate commissions when you click through the affiliate links on our website. Learn more here.

Tongkat Ali Overview:

Tongkat ali is a tree that grows throughout Southeast Asia. It was traditionally used to increase sexual drive.

It goes by a few other names, including Malaysia Ginseng, Longjack, Pasak Bumi, and Tung Saw.

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

Modern research indicates that tongkat ali may help to improve libido and testosterone levels.

As a bonus, tongkat ali can be taken as a coffee drink. Learn more about tongkat ali coffee here.

Below is a quick overview of how tongkat ali benefits the body.

tongkat ali's 6 health benefits

1. May Improve Testosterone Levels

Various clinical trials indicate that tongkat ali may help to support testosterone levels.

A study involving 45 men found that tongkat ali supplementation coupled with daily exercise helped to improve testosterone levels and overall sexual function.

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

2. May Improve Strength

Research shows that tongkat ali can also 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 clinical trial involving 45 men with low testosterone found that supplementing with tongkat ali and daily exercise improved power output. It was also found to improve energy levels, sex drive, strength, and mental health.

One other 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 performance.

3. May Improve Stress Management

Not only does tongkat ali improve your physical health, but it may also have some mental 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 lowered cortisol levels, indicating a healthier overall hormonal profile.

One other study involving 93 high-stress individuals found that supplementing with tongkat ali alongside a multivitamin appeared to support mental health and reduce stress levels.

Cistanche Overview:

Cistanche is a traditional Chinese tonic herb. It was used traditionally to help those struggling with erectile dysfunction. It was also used to help with renal disease, female infertility, and senile constipation.

Cistanche is also considered to be an adaptogenic herb, that is, it’s said to be a herb that helps the body build resilience to stress.

There are two primary types of this herb, including Cistanche tubulosa and Cistanche deserticola. These two types of cistanche are often used interchangeably.

Below is a quick overview of how cistanche benefits the body.

Tongkat Ali vs. Cistanche - cistanche

1. May Benefit Male Hormonal Health

According to research, cistanche may help improve male sexual health.

Lab-based studies have shown that the phytochemicals found in cistanche may work to improve testosterone health.

Echinacoside, a phytochemical found in cistanche, has also been found to have the ability to relax arteries. This can help to improve blood flow, which can help with sexual function.

2. May Improve Brain Function

Cistanche also appears to have the ability to support mental health.

Lab-based studies have shown that cistanche can improve brain function by preventing neuron loss.

Other studies have shown various brain-boosting benefits of cistanche.

A clinical trial found that cistanche helped individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. When compared to other medications, the researchers noted that cistanche may help to support those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

3. May Support Healthy Aging

A new study has found that cistanche may have anti-aging properties.

A study found that cistanche has the ability to stimulate human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is a natural hormone that boosts cellular regeneration and helps to improve overall healing. It’s thought to be an important hormone for healthy aging.

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

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

Cistanche has been considered a safe herb in traditional Chinese medicine for over the past thousand years. It’s considered to be a well-tolerated herb by most individuals. There are minimal reported cistanche side effects.

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

However, a recent safety study indicated that tongkat ali may be harmful in large doses. Taking 200mg-400mg 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 with your personal physician prior to taking them.


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

Consider testing each one of these herbs 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.

Photo of author

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.