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By Serge Kreutz (2010)
Now it is scientifically official: tongkat ali extract causes considerable muscle growth in men. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that in a double-blind placebo controlled scientific trial, the use of tongkat ali extract caused a 5 % increase in lean body mass in the treatment group, while no significant changes were observed in the placebo group. 5 % in 5 weeks is a large improvement, as becomes obvious if one calculates the increase this would mean over a course of a year (5 weeks ? 5 %; 52 weeks ? 50 %).
Among other interesting facts, the journal article states: "The mean arm circumference of the treatment group increased significantly by 1.8 cm after the supplementation, from 30.87 (1.88) to 32.67 (1.96) cm (p = 0.011), but there was no significant increase in the placebo group."
The abstract of the clinical trial with healthy men can be read at the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine:
Access is free, but requires a registration.
A printscreen of the abstract can be read here:
As one may expect for a scientific publication, the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine is a bit difficult to navigate. In this particular case, the abstract on the scientific trial about tongkat ali has been lumped together with a number of other abstracts. The abstracts are numbered 001, 002, 003, and so forth. The abstract that covers tongkat ali?s effect on bodybuilding has the number 007. Please be aware that the Latin, scientific name of tongkat ali is Eurycoma longifolia. For simplicity, the abstract is reproduced at the end of this article.
There are a few things to be aware of in an interpretation of the results of the cited scientific study with human subjects. For example, the tongkat ali extract used in the trial has been prepared in a university laboratory. It was of controlled strength. There may be a very substantial difference between genuine university lab-extracted tongkat ali and the commercial products one finds on health store shelves. In my opinion, if the purpose of your tongkat ali usage is muscle gain, you can disregard all products that combine tongkat ali with other herbals. Tongkat ali is one of the most expensive herbals on the market because (1) it is rare, and (2) it takes extremely long to grow. Therefore, any combination product is likely to save on the tongkat ali.
The only country in the world where there still are considerable resources of tongkat ali in the wild is Indonesia. The shrub once was common in Malaysia, but because searching for tongkat ali has taken on the dimensions of searching for truffles in France or Italy, tongkat ali has since been declared a protected plant in Malaysia, and forest areas where it is still found have already been guarded by forest rangers for several years. (The Star, January 30, 2001)
While practically all "Malaysian" tongkat ali sold in recent years has originated from Indonesia, it is foreseeable that this supply line will also dry up in the coming years. The Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who won a second
term in July 2009, has declared the protection of the Indonesian
forests a prime priority of his government. As in neighboring Malaysia and Thailand, the illegal exploitation of Indonesian forests is bound to become a serious crime. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised: "The government will take strong action on the perpetrators and will take them to court where they will receive the most severe punishment." (Agence France Press, November 5, 2004 http://www.abc.net.au/news/
Tongkat ali is not a fast-growing weed like tribulus terrrestis. You can grow tribulus terrestis as easily as potatoes, on practically any soil, and in the span of a few weeks. Tongkat ali, by contrast, takes years to reach maturity. Full size cannot be expected in less than 25 years. The effectiveness of mature tongkat ali is supposed to be far superior to that of young plants. Furthermore, tongkat ali is as difficult to grow as orchids. The soil needs to be sandy and must be well drained. Nevertheless, new water is needed several times a week. Tongkat ali also needs a partially shaded environment. The plant?s natural habitat is restricted to tropical jungle slopes (which obviously are naturally drained after a downpour) and which are partially shaded by the rain forest canopy while allowing some sunlight to reach the plant because of the angle of the terrain.
Because tongkat ali is so expensive, even in Malaysia where it originated, herbal traders there now find it more economical to sell herbal fillers that are laced with sildenafil (Viagra), rather than genuine tongkat ali (which buyers request). (New Straits Times, April 10, 2004)
For those who take the alleged tongkat ali for its prosexual effects, the substitution may actually work (though the substitution can be life-threatening for those on nitrate drugs). However, for those who seek genuine tongkat ali for the purpose of improving the ratio between lean body mass and fat, the stretched sildenafil will do nothing (if one disregards that for them, biceps exercise on fake tongkat ali may cause temporary tissue expansion in the penis, rather than around the arms).
The active ingredients in tongkat ali are present only in trace amounts. You?d need about 50 gram of the root for a single dosage, and athletes who want to achieve maximum results without resorting to illegal steroids will typically take 2 or 3 dosages a day. Scientifically proven effectiveness, depleting resources, and the natural difficulty of analyzing the composition of a natural medication are a dangerous mix. While they may soon measure genuine tongkat ali extract on gold scales, the demand of a growing market for ever cheaper products will definitely attract a large number of cheaters. Just as in Malaysia, they may sell sildenafil-stretched herbal fillers as tongkat ali, or they will market combination products in which tongkat ali is less than 1 percent (though on the label tongkat ali will certainly be printed in an enlarged type font).
How to protect yourself from being cheated? Look at the company from which you buy. Are they an established trader in the tongkat ali market? Where are they located? A trader in New York or New Mexico is far from the source (and the situation is no better for one in Old Mexico). 99 percent of the world?s tongkat ali comes from Indonesia, and that is were you are likely to find the best purity, and the best prices for the genuine stuff.
The farther you are from the source, and the more intermediates handle the tongkat ali before it gets to you, the larger the risk that it will not only be diluted but even substituted.
And simply, don?t trust cheap prices when looking for genuine tongkat ali.
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Copyright Serge Kreutz