Is Tongkat Ali safe for erectile dysfunction treatment in Singapore (and how you can protect yourself)


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Written By Editorial Team

Reviewed By Dr. Bosty Chan

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When one thinks of aphrodisiacs, two foods come to mind – Tongkat Ali and Oysters. Tongkat Ali has been used traditionally for boosting sexual performance and masculinity. It is so popular that you can now find Tongkat Ali products in a retail store or an e-commerce platform. Here’s how you can identify the authentic Tongkat Ali products in Singapore without getting yourself hurt.

N/B: In the following discussion, Tongkat Ali products refer to the concentrated herbal supplement. It is classified as a food rather than a traditional medicine in Singapore.

What is Tongkat Ali and does it really treat erectile dysfunction?

Some men will swear by it. Others will avoid it, thinking that it is a scam.

Tongkat Ali (also known as Long Jack, Malaysian ginseng) originates from a plant known as Eurycoma longifolia, which is native to the Southeast Asia region.

It is commonly sold as a health supplement in capsules, or as an ingredient in “health foods”.

tongkat ali longifolia tree in Singapore

Tongkat Ali Tree in Singapore (Photo credit: Alex Yee)

Apart from its well-known aphrodisiac effect, it has also been used in folk medicine for many other purposes such as improving stamina, treating infection, and relieving stress or anxiety.

Although the exact mechanism is unclear, the long belief that Tongkat Ali can be used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) has been a subject of interest in the medical field.

And like all traditional medicine, it might actually work because of its chemical compounds.

A growing understanding on how Tongkat Ali actually works

In a 2015 review of Tongkat Ali, men who had “severe ED” were found to have possibly benefited from Tongkat Ali extract (200mg to 300mg).

One likely reason is because Tongkat Ali actually contains several active compounds that have been found to stimulate and increase testosterone levels.

Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for most of a man’s sexual function and virility.

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The root extract is most commonly used as it is more potent than other parts of the plant

One other study found that a daily supplementation of Tongkat Ali root extract (200 mg/day) significantly lowers cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a stress hormone known to be related to erectile dysfunction.

When you are stressed, whether is it mentally or physically, cortisol increases. And as cortisol shares the same “ingredients”, testosterone will naturally decrease.

Therefore, there might be some truth in the traditional belief that Tongkat Ali actually works, as it helps regulate the essential hormones for a healthy body and erection.

Tongkat Ali has come a long way, but there is still much research to be done before it can truly find a place in professional medical treatment.

Is Tongkat Ali a better option than Viagra?

Viagra (sildenafil) is a commonly used medication to treat ED. It works by improving the blood flow to the penis and allows us to get or sustain an erection for sexual activity.

Tongkat Ali, while being dubbed the “natural Viagra”, lacks large clinical trials to prove its benefit in ED.

Also, many Tongkat Ali products are not rigorously evaluated by the health authority, as compared to the Western medicines (more on this part later).

On the other hand, Viagra is scientifically proven medication and is considered safe, provided that you get it from a legitimate source.

That being said, you can’t simply buy it off the shelves of Guardian and Watson pharmacy without a prescription. You would need to first speak to a doctor about your struggles with erectile dysfunction.

Most legitimate treatment for erectile dysfunction require a doctor’s visit

The trouble with buying Tongkat Ali over-the-counter

Tongkat Ali is natural, so it must be safe, right?

Unfortunately not.

Many of us are inclined to take herbal supplements for our health conditions because we believe “natural” products are safer and better.

However, such supplements are not as strictly regulated by the health authority as compared to the doctor-only medications.

In Singapore, a Tongkat Ali product can be placed on the market without a product license. That means its effectiveness, quality, and safety need not necessarily be verified by the HSA.

Different extraction techniques from different parts of the plants can result in different amounts of “active ingredients” in each final product. Hence there might be inconsistency in the desired health outcomes.

Unofficial sources may contain illegal substances

Once in a while, some unknowing citizen who was simply looking for a boost falls victim to adulterated products.

The HSA issued a warning regarding various Tongkat Ali products after a man in his 20s who took a supplement named “Vall-Boon Tongkat Ali” developed persistent side effects.

He subsequently required medical attention, and was discovered to have been unknowingly ingesting steroids from the spiked product.

At times, these “super foods” were found to contain undeclared potent western medicinal ingredients such as steroids and tadalafil (a medicine used to treat ED).

The unregulated nature of these products might mean you might be ingesting unsafe levels of potent medications, which may lead to serious health implications..

How do I check if a Tongkat Ali product is real?

Tongkat Ali products can come in various presentations, such as powder, capsules, and raw herbs. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to check its authenticity.

In Singapore, Tongkat Ali products are generally considered as “traditional medicines”. Under this scope, the dealers can import, manufacture, and supply the products without a license.

Nevertheless, let’s see what might go wrong and what you can do to identify the more “legit” Tongkat Ali products.

Areas that I can checkHow to spot a possible “unsafe” Tongkat Ali product
1. Read the ingredient listRead the fine prints! If a product is listed as “Tongkat Ali” and you can’t find it in the ingredient list, it could mean that the manufacturer is dishonest.

Check if Tongkat Ali (or other synonymous names such as Eurycoma longifolia) is listed as one of the active ingredients.

The root extract is most commonly used as it is more potent than other parts of the plant.

2. Check the Source and quality of the productOnline reviews doesn’t mean that it is legitimate. Always be sure of the source of your product.

Check for:

  • Manufacturer details
  • Certifications such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Manufactured and expiry date
  • Packaging and tamper-safe seals
3. Spot misleading claimsIf a product is over-advertised (eg. 100% guaranteed), then turn away!

No health product can truly claim to be the ultimate cure. The product manufacturer might be more interested in hard-selling it to unknowing consumers rather than have their health and safety interest.

4. Refer to blacklisted productsHSA occasionally performs checks on food / supplements available in the market and seizes contaminated products.

Check out the published list of illegal health products. This list is not exhaustive.

Reach out to a doctor from the convenience of your home

We hear your shyness.

It is not uncommon for many men to suffer from sexual dysfunction in silence due to fear of being stigmatized.

Sire is a digital health clinic dedicated to men’s health in Singapore. We focus on making a safe and comfortable place for you to seek professional help from Singapore licensed doctors.

It is just in three simple steps: Survey, Consult, Delivery.

You can speak to a Singapore licensed doctor in the comfort of home. The prescribed medications are shipped to your doorstep in a discreet manner – Nobody has to find out.

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Therefore, if traditional medicine is not working for you, carefully consider speaking to a doctor. Having the right diagnosis is important as it allows you to receive the right treatment.

Afterall, a good sex life is vital for a healthy relationship and overall well-being.

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The percentage of men in Singapore aged 30 and above who experience some degree of erectile dysfunction.

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