Up until recently, we knew that the herb Eurycoma longifolia, aka tongkat ali, raised testosterone levels. We knew that it prevented testosterone from converting to estrogen. We knew that it freed up bound testosterone so that it was available to muscles.
And we also knew that Eurycoma led to better erections, but we thought that this last point was just a happy side effect of the testosterone-fueled increase in libido.
Little did we know that Eurycoma looks like it increases erectile strength through an entirely separate mechanism, one that works independently of testosterone and that, when combined with its other attributes, qualifies it as an herb that's as close to being an aphrodisiac as there is.
It's estimated that a mind-blowing 30 to 40% of people experience a lack of sexual interest for at least several months in any given year.
This joyless lack of lust might be caused by depression, medications, diabetes, hypothyroidism, social and interpersonal problems or, separately, any one of a number of conditions or situations that can inhibit dopamine release.
Lack of sexual desire can also be caused by a neurochemical lack of feedback after sexual stimulation, disturbances in brain neurotransmitters, and, of course, low levels of steroid hormones, chief among them testosterone.
Up until now, the only drugs that were available to treat a low libido were testosterone itself and some inadequately researched herbal drugs. Enter Eurycoma longifolia.
I guess it's a little ethnocentric to suggest in any way that Eurycoma longifolia is a new discovery because Malaysian men have been using it for hundreds of years to enhance both the quantity and the quality of their sexual engagements.
Probably the only things new about it are its growing popularity in the Western world and an expanded understanding of the mechanisms involved in its libido and performance-enhancing properties.
Up until very recently, we thought that Eurycoma's sexual effects were solely related to two particular quassinoids, which, to those of you who have a working knowledge of biochemistry, are metabolically altered triterpines.
These two quassinoids – eurycomanone and 13-alpha- (21) dihydro eurycomanone – elevate levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which in turn direct the testes to crank out more testosterone.
It doesn't stop there, though. Eurycoma increases testosterone levels further through two additional biochemical mechanisms. It both blocks the conversion of testosterone to estradiol (thus ensuring higher levels of testosterone) and selectively controls the conversion of DHEA to testosterone.
All of the preceding explains why we thought this Malaysian herb led to better erections. Little did we know that a separate mechanism was involved, one that's far more reliable than just what might occur with elevated levels of sex hormone.
An erection is a marvel of hydraulics. In simple terms, it's not too much different than the inflatable arm-flailing tube men you see in front of car dealerships, but you know, without the flailing arms. Of course, to be scientifically accurate, the "tube men" are more related to pneumatics rather than hydraulics and much, much simpler, but the concept of pressure is still similar.
Initially, an excitatory thought or external stimulus sends chemical messages to the arteries in your penis, whereupon the arteries relax and allow a tremendous amount of blood to flow in. The veins then constrict, which pressurizes the penis and sends it skyward, at least ideally.
One of the chemical messages that instigates erections is nitric oxide. Another is a family of chemicals known as rho kinases (ROCKs). They're found in many tissues and are known to have therapeutic applications in a variety of conditions including cancer, asthma, diabetes, and, as is pertinent to our current discussion, erections.
When you inhibit ROCK, you get bigger and stronger erections, and Eurycoma was found in a recent study to specifically inhibit ROCK-2, an action which researchers believed might explain the herb's use as an "aphrodisiac" and to treat sexual disorders. (Shahira)
Of course, the strong erections attained through Eurycoma use might also be the result of synergism between elevated testosterone, ROCK-2 inhibition, and perhaps some other yet to be discovered mechanisms.
Despite all that happy news for erectile function, there's more to a healthy reproductive system than elevated serum levels of testosterone and firm erections, and that's fertility. It seems Eurycoma plays a big role in that, too.
You can add another grim sexual statistic to that epidemic of sexual disinterest I described earlier: Almost 15% of US couples are infertile and about half the time the problem lies with the man.
One meta-analysis of 61 worldwide studies revealed that a general downward trend of sperm count and semen volume over the last 50 years. Whether that's because of environmental assault (environmental estrogens), a regrettable evolutionary trend, or overly tight tighty-whities is unknown.
Numerous studies, however, have found that Eurycoma increases human and animal semen volume, sperm count, and sperm motility:
- A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study involving 109 men, ages 30-55, showed that daily doses of 300 mg. of Eurycoma led to higher scores in erectile function domain, sexual libido, seminal fluid analysis, sperm motility, and semen volume. (Ismail. et al)
- The sperm counts of rats at varying doses of Eurycoma increased by 78.9, 94.3 and 99.2 % over control. (Chan, et al)
- In men 40-65 years old, 12 weeks of Eurycoma supplementation led to significant improvements in scores for "sexual intercourse attempts," erection hardness scale, "sexual health inventory," and the aging male symptom scale. (Chan, et al)
- Eurycoma increased spermatogenesis and sperm counts of rats in 14 days, reversing the effects of estrogen. (Wahab, et al)
- 350 patients who were given 200 mg. of Eurycoma per day showed significant improvements in all semen parameters, allowing for 14.7% more "spontaneous" pregnancies. (Tambi and Imran)
- Male rats given Eurycoma increased testosterone concentrations by up to 30.2%, along with exhibiting increases in total sperm concentration, motility, and vitality. (Solomon, et al)
Anything that increases testosterone levels can and should increase muscle mass, assuming it occurs in conjunction with resistance training of some kind and adequate nutrient intake.
Unfortunately, there haven't been many studies done on Eurycoma to test this assumption, although at least two have shown promising results. In one study of men between the ages of 57 and 72, 400 mg. a day of Eurycoma for 5 weeks increased free and total testosterone with a measurable increase of "muscular force." (Henkel, et al).
Another study involved 14 men who undertook an intense strength-training program while taking 100 mg. of Eurycoma a day. The men increased their arm circumference significantly compared to placebo (6.8% to 2.8%). (Hamzah & Yusof).
It should be evident that eurycoma is a powerful testosterone booster/"aphrodisiac" all on its own, but Biotest chose to combine it with two additional powerhouse testosterone boosters/modulators in its Alpha Male®.
Each serving (2 tablets) contains 100 mg. of a Eurycoma longifolia extract, (standardized to contain the highest amount possible of the two major, bio-active quassinoids), along with 20 mg. of forskolin carbonate and 500 mg. of Tribulus terrestris.
For those of you unfamiliar with forskolin, it's a polyphenol that stimulates the production of an enzyme named adenylate cyclase, which in turn increases levels of a cellular messenger called cyclic AMP, or cAMP for short.
In turn, elevated levels of cAMP increase testosterone levels, in addition to increasing thyroid secretion of T4 (increased fat burning), breaking down triglycerides, increasing protein synthesis in skeletal muscles, and increasing activation of brown adipose tissue, or BAT (which causes more fat burning, although through a different mechanism).
Tribulus terrestris is the perfect companion to these other two testosterone-raising compounds as its primary function is to enhance androgen receptor density in the brain (and possibly muscle tissue, too). That means that any testosterone churned out, courtesy of Eurycoma and forskolin, has a lot more room for it to "park" on cells and initiate its biochemical effects.
Together, the three compounds are the next best thing to an actual testosterone injection taken with a Viagra chaser. Take 1-2 capsules in the morning on an empty stomach with 8 ounces of water. Repeat 6 to 8 hours later.
- Ezzat SM et al. Rho-Kinase II Inhibitory Potential of Eurycoma longifolia New Isolate for the Management of Erectile Dysfunction. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 May 15;2019:4341592. PubMed.
- Low BS et al. Standardized quassinoid-rich Eurycoma longifolia extract improved spermatogenesis and fertility in male rats via the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Feb 13;145(3):706-14. PubMed.
- Muhamad AS et al, Eurycoma longifolia Jack: Medicinal properties and its effects on endurance exercise performance. Asian Journal of Exercise & Sport Science. 2009;6(1).
- Rehman SU et al. Review on a Traditional Herbal Medicine, Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali): Its Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Evidence-Based Pharmacology and Toxicology. Molecules. 2016 Mar 10;21(3):331. PubMed.
- Solomon MC et al. In vivo effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali) extract on reproductive functions in the rat. Andrologia. 2014 May;46(4):339-48. PubMed.