About this Episode
In this episode of the Medicinal Herbs podcast, we welcome back Professor Kerry Bone to talk with our host Sara Le Brun Blashka, MS, about andropause and tongkat ali, an herb long known as a traditional tonic for testosterone support to promote healthy sexual interest and vitality.
What is Andropause?
The term “andropause” may be known by many other names: late onset functional hypogonadism (LOFH), testosterone deficiency syndrome, and even “male menopause.” However, unlike true menopause, andropause is not an inevitable part of aging for males. Andropause is the age-related decrease in serum testosterone in men in connection to decreased secretion of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. Symptoms associated with andropause may include decreased libido, lack of energy, decreased strength and endurance, decreased enjoyment of life, and problems with erectile dysfunction.
Tongkat Ali and Andropause
Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia) is a traditional herb from southeast Asia, used widely in this region and in Malaysia. This herb can grow to about 60 feet over several decades, contains a range of bitter compounds, and is known for its use as a general tonic for energy and as a male aphrodisiac (05:52). Tongkat ali is mainly associated with use in men, although there are known traditional uses in women as well. This herb is linked to improving testosterone levels and, subsequently, improving all aspects of male sexual function – including fertility (08:20). As a tonic, tongkat ali is known for restoring and building vitality, supporting energy levels, and making the stress response more efficient.
Clinical Evidence for Tongkat Ali
Professor Kerry Bone describes the compelling evidence for tongkat ali in various contexts to support healthy aging and healthy testosterone levels (09:49). He says that it is an effective first choice or back-up for Tribulus or Korean ginseng when these herbs are not available or when they don’t seem to meet expectations in individual patients. Additionally, he mentions a few specific studies where tongkat has shown to be effective in various clinical contexts:
- Clinical trial showing benefit in erectile dysfunction
- Trials showing increased total testosterone
- Reducing fatigue in a cohort of older men
- Quality of life improved in a cohort of older men
- Tension and anxiety in moderately stressed individuals improved
- Significant improvement in sperm concentration, appearance, and motility
There is also emerging data on the use of tongkat ali in sarcopenia, a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength in relation to age (14:04). More information from WholisticMatters on sarcopenia:
- Sarcopenia in Aging Women and Protein Intake
- Nutritional Needs are Central to Sarcopenia Management
- Vitamin D and Sarcopenia
Additional topics covered in this episode:
- Tongkat ali’s safety profile (16:53)
- Safety for use in women (18:24)
- Quality considerations (19:59)