Check your tongkat ali source

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Many people are worried whether a website they consider sells genuine tongkat ali or fakes.

While I do not make recommendations for specific sellers, I do reply if people ask me whether a certain site is legitimate or selling shit.

On the other hand, everybody can make a quick check on his or her own.

The best indication for a genuine source is proper photographic evidence.

A genuine company, with a genuine product, will usually have proper photographic documentation on their site. This should include some photos of their premises and building structures, some photos on their raw products, and photographic evidence for their distribution claims.

But be careful with the following: some sites simply integrate stolen photos of huge lab facilities that are not theirs at all. A genuine company that publishes photos will make sure that its name is visible in the photos.

The following are NOT proof of a legitimate operation:

1.) Licenses - The only relevant license for an Indonesian source is a "Nomor Depkes". All other licenses only serve the purpose of bullshitting potential fraud victims.

2.) Claims of distributing a wide range of products - It's really easy to integrate on a website such claims as selling all kind of herbal supplements, most of which nobody has ever heard of. It's just a credibility alibi so that buyers have more confidence purchasing the Warez offered at lower prices.

But what they sell is not tongkat ali 1:200 extract by any stretch of definition.

Sometimes I am really surprised how easily buyers on the Internet fall victim to frauds. What would stop those who set up a website with fake documentation to sell a fake product, cooked up of some leaves and tree debris from the nearest park? You guessed it. Nothing.

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Sites covering tongkat ali

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Searching information on tongkat ali through Google and Yahoo.


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Tongkat ali purchase rules

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The active ingredients are present in tongkat ali root in miniscule amounts. Used in the traditional manner (in Malaysia and Indonesia), for a typical single standard dose, one needs a full 50 gram of chipped root, boiled for about 5 minutes. That means: more than 10 kg of raw root per month, or even double that much for body builders. But what is sold in health food stores and as tongkat ali health supplement often only provides less than a half gram of tongkat ali root powder per capsule. Of such a product, one would have to swallow more than 100 capsules to get a single effective dose.

Because tongkat ali root is mostly cellulose, purchase rule 1 is: if you buy capsules, only buy tongkat ali extract, not just tongkat ali.

When an extract is made, the active ingredients are extracted from the root, and the remaining cellulose is discarded. Extracts can have various proportions (the amount of active ingredients that is extracted). For example, an extract that is 1:50 gets 1 gram of active ingredients from 50 gram of tongkat ali root. An extract that is 1:100 uses 100 gram of root to produce 1 gram of extract, and a 1:200 extract is even more concentrated. It needs 200 gram of tongkat ali root to prepare just 1 gram of extract. Thus, among the various tongkat ali extracts cited above, 1:200 is the most concentrated and strongest form.

However, if a bottle of capsules just says "Tongkat Ali Extract", without specifying a proportion, then the extract is likely only 1:5, or maybe even only 1:2. This means that only 5, or just 2, gram of tongkat ali root were used to obtain 1 gram of extract. Thus, assuming an equal capsule size, you would need 40 capsules (or, at worst 100 capsules) of such a tongkat ali extract of unspecified strength to obtain as much active ingredient as you can get from just one capsule of 1:200 extract.

Therefore, purchase rule 2 is: only buy an extract that specifies the concentration, 1:50, 1:100, or 1:200. Otherwise, your extract is likely to be so diluted that you are still mostly swallowing cellulose, not active ingredients. Legally, even an extract of 1:2 can be called an extract. But it's almost as bad as root powder. When extract strength is not specified, the whole extraction process was undertaken only so that "extract" could be written on the label of the product.

Even worse are products that mix tongkat ali with other ingredients, such as arginine, damiana, muira puama, or minerals such as zinc. Argenine, you can buy at 20 dollars a kilo, and that's enough for something like 4000 capsules, and damiana is a grass that typically isn't extracted. Most minerals in capsule form are just pharmaceutical junk.

Thus, purchase rule 3 is: if you want to use tongkat ali, buy a product that is not mixed with anything else.

When consumed in proper therapeutic amounts, tongkat ali extract not only works to enhance libido (sexual desire), but also causes increased muscle growth in bodybuilding athletes. Both efficacies have been established in scientific research.

For example, the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that the use of tongkat ali extract caused a 5 % increase in lean body mass in 5 weeks. The result was obtained in a double-blind placebo controlled scientific trial for a treatment group, while in a control group, no significant changes were observed. 5 % in 5 weeks is a large improvement, as becomes obvious if one calculates it over a course of a year (5 weeks ' 5 %; 52 weeks 50 %). The authors conclude: "The results suggest that water soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia Jack increased fat free mass, reduced body fat, and increased muscle strength and size, and thus may have an ergogenic effect."

The abstract of the clinical trial with healthy men can be read at the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine:

http://bjsm.bmjjournals.com/
cgi/content/full/37/5/464

To check for the abstract, you will have to scroll down on the page with the above URL. The abstract that covers tongkat ali's effect on bodybuilding has the number 007.

Purchase rule 4 is: if ever possible, buy Indonesian, not Malaysian tongkat ali.

Of course, genuine tongkat ali root is expensive. In Malaysia where tongkat ali meanwhile is a protected plant, they sell a kg of root (2.2 lbs) for up to 50 US dollars. Prices in Indonesia are much lower.

A considerable number of Malaysian tongkat ali products have been intercepted and taken off the shelves by the authorities of several countries for containing bootleg Viagra or Cialis. Instead of purchasing a healthier alternative to prescription drugs, many of those who have used Malaysian tongkat ali not only were fed synthetic chemicals. The synthetic chemicals weren't even produced in a licensed manufacturing unit but cooked up in kitchen labs.

As if stretching with synthetic chemicals weren't enough, Malaysian tongkat ali root also often is contaminated with lead. This is a result of the rapid industrialization the country has experienced over the past decade or two, when it was one of the world's fastest growing economies. Until very recently, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur were the highest buildings in the world (an expression of Malaysian industrial pride), and even though it has a population of just 20 million inhabitants, Malaysia has a lot of heavy industry. It even produces its own brands of cars, trucks, motorcycles ' an achievement that countries of comparative size even in Europe can't match.

The downside of rapid industrialization: the lead content of a good number Malaysian tongkat ali products has been found to range from 10.64 to 20.72 ppm (parts per million). For comparison, the Indonesian company Sumatra Pasak Bumi has published laboratory test results showing that their own tongkat ali has a lead content of just 0.08 ppm . This means that every gram of the Malaysian tongkat ali named in the abstract of a scientific study (see link below) contained up to 250 times the amount of lead found in Indonesian tongkat ali.

The scientific study, which established these data, was published in the scientific journal Human & Experimental Toxicology, issue of August 2003. An abstract of the study can be read at the following URL:

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/
search/expand?
pub=infobike://arn/
het/2003/00000022/00000008/
art00006

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Reference:

1 Joey F. George, Influences on the intent to make Internet purchases, Emeral Insight, Internet Research Vol. 12 Iss: 2, pp.165 - 180.

2 Amar Cheema, Purushottam Papatla, Science Direct, Journal of Business Research Volume 63, Issues 910, September-October 2010, Pages 979-985.

3 Kyoung-Nan Kwon and Jinkook Lee, Concerns About Payment Security of Internet Purchases: A Perspective on Current On-Line Shoppers, SAGE Journal, September 2003 vol. 21 no. 4 174-184.

4 Wang, H., Building a consumer scalable anonymity payment protocol for Internet purchases, IEEE, ISSN :1066-1395 pp 159 - 168. 2002.

5 Dhruv Grewal, Jeanne L. Munger, Gopalkrishnan R. Iyer and Michael Levy, The influence of internet-retailing factors on price expectations, Wiley Online Library, Psychology & Marketing Special Issue: The Psychology of Pricing on the Internet Volume 20, Issue 6, pages 477-493, June 2003.

6 Anne-Sophie Cases, Perceived risk and risk-reduction strategies in Internet shopping, Taylor & Francis Online, The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research Volume 12, Issue 4, 2002 pages 375-394.

7 Sreedhar Rao Madhavaram, Debra A. Laverie, Exploring Impulse Purchasing on the Internet, Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31 2004.

8 Helga Dittmar, Karen Long, Rosie Meek, Buying on the Internet: Gender Differences in On-line and Conventional Buying Motivations, Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers, Sex Roles March 2004, Volume 50, Issue 5-6, pp 423-444.

9 Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa, Noam Tractinsky, and Lauri Saarinen, Consumer Trust in an Internet Store: A Cross-Cultural Validation, Wiley Online Library, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication Volume 5, Issue 2, page 0, December 1999.

10 M Foss and LA Bygrave, International consumer purchases through the internet: jurisdictional issues pursuant to European law, Oxford Journal, Law Int. Jnl. of Law and Info. Technology Volume 8, Issue 2 Pp. 99-138.


Worldwide tongkat ali shortage

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Apart from being a testosterone booster, and a proven malaria defense, highly concentrated tongkat ali extract is the world's only drug that effectively treats recurring migraines and persistent headaches. However, only high-concentration extract will work to wash out migraine-causing chemicals, and a particular dietary regimen must be part of the treatment.

Tongkat ali is already rare and expensive. Which is why it is hardly ever used for malaria. Anyway, malaria prevails only among the poor in the poorest countries of the world, so no competing buyers there for already expensive tongkat ali. There are also cheap chemical malaria drugs, so the issue of tongkat ali and malaria is not urgent.

The market for sexual enhancement substances contributes much more seriously to the depletion of the tongkat ali tree in the forests of Southeast Asia, the only part in the world where it grows.

Just look at Pfizer's Viagra sales to get an idea:

Viagra: The profitable pill

But what really pushes the tongkat ali tree to the brink of extinction is the root's effectiveness against migraines and other headaches.

There are more than 100 million migraine sufferers in the developed world.

Risk Factor Management Helps Prevent Migraine Attacks

Who has Migraines?

And only a high-concentration tongkat ali extract, and even that in comparatively high dosages, will reliably work against migraine attacks.

A serious tongkat ali shortage, accompanied by rising prices, is pre-programmed by nature. Tongkat ali roots take 15 years to grow to reach their pharmacological usefulness. And tongkat ali is very selective as to where it grows: it prefers only sandy sloops in tropical rain forests.

Tongkat ali is already a protected plant in Malaysia and Thailand. And Indonesia, while not withdrawing old permits, is no longer issuing government licenses for new tongkat ali products. Indonesia has also started to intercept illegal tongkat ali products, and illegal items declared as tongkat ali, at all the country's post offices.

All of these aspects combined do not look like a scenario for falling prices.

But what you will see, sure as hell, are ever more fakes. Even now, ingredients dealers in the USA just sell root powder and say it's extract. And traders on Alibaba, eBay, and Amazon just sell cheap tribulus, or chemical mixtures from China, and claim: hey, man, this is genuine tongkat ali from Indonesia. Bullshit!

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Reference:

1 A. George, and R. Henkel, Phytoandrogenic properties of Eurycoma longifolia as natural alternative to testosterone replacement therapy, Wiley Online Library, Andrologia Volume 46, Issue 7, pages 708-721, September 2014.

2 Kit-Lam Chan, Chee-Yan Choo, Noor Rain Abdullah, Zakiah Ismail, Antiplasmodial studies of Eurycoma longifolia Jack using the lactate dehydrogenase assay of Plasmodium falciparum, Science Direct, Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 92, Issues 2-3, June 2004, Pages 223-227.

3 Omar Saeed Ali Al-Salahi, Chan Kit-Lam, Amin Malik Shah Abdul Majid, Fouad Saleih R. Al-Suede, Sultan Ayesh Mohammed Saghir, Wan Zaidah Abdullah, Mohamed B. Khadeer Ahamed, Narazah Mohd Yusoff, Anti-angiogenic quassinoid-rich fraction from Eurycoma longifolia modulates endothelial cell function, Science Direct, Microvascular Research Volume 90, November 2013, Pages 30-39.

4 N. Erasmus, M. C. Solomon, K. A. Fortuin and R. R. Henkel, Effect of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat ali) extract on human spermatozoa in vitro, Wiley Online Library, Andrologia Volume 44, Issue 5, pages 308-314, October 2012.

5 Sarah E. Edwards, da Costa Rocha, Elizabeth M. Williamson and Michael Heinrich, Tongkat Ali, Wiley Online Library, Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medical Products, Published Online: 20 FEB 2015.


Buying tongkat ali

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The problem with most tongkat ali products that can be obtained in the US or over the Internet is that they are grossly underdosed.

Tongkat ali is a root, and as such, it consists mostly of cellulose. Cellulose is not a pharmacologically active substance. The pharmacologically active ingredients only form a very small part of the root.

The raw root, whether powdered or chipped, is not fit for human consumption. This is not just the case because humans cannot digest cellulose but also because the raw root often is infested with fungi and bacteria, some of which are harmful. This is absolutely normal for anything that grows underground. Is there anything humans would pull out of the soil and consume uncooked?

Raw root powder is commonly sold in Malaysia as well as in the US, both in brick-and-mortar shops and by Internet retailers.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with root powder or chipped root, as long as you know how to handle it.

If you do not buy a ready-made extract, you have to prepare the root powder or chipped root as your own extract. This can be a liquid extract or a dry one. If you prepare a liquid extract, you will have to consume a lot of fluid to get a proper dosage. Producing your own dry extract will take a lot of time.

Root powder in capsules is nonsense because one should not ingest raw tongkat ali root, even not if it is packaged in gelatin capsules. The most likely effect of ingesting raw root powder is diarrhea, caused by salmonella bacteria. And if you are unlucky, you get a strain that causes typhoid fever.

Tongkat ali is so bitter, and tastes so lousy, that the only way one can ingest a proper dosage is to get it down as quickly as possible. Capsules of dried tongkat ali extract are a good solution because extract is concentrated, and you can swallow the tongkat ali without tasting it.

The only problem with dried extract in capsules is that you are easily cheated. It is very difficult to check yourself whether you actually get tongkat ali extract, or just tongkat ali root powder, or something else altogether.

Tongkat ali root has to be boiled, and before being boiled. Use about half a liter of water for 50 gram of root powder or chipped root. 50 gram of root powder or chipped root will yield about 2 normal dosages, or a single dosage for an experienced user or a bodybuilding athlete.

I know what I'm talking about because I did make my own extract. I did so because I am a suspicious character, and so that I could write about it.

I used 500 gram of chipped root, soaked in 5 liter of water for 24 hours. I brought the whole thing to a boil, and then filtered the water. I then left the 5 liters of water for almost 2 days on an electric stove with heat control (about 50 centigrade) until I got a thick sap. I further heated the sap in an electric oven (about 40 centigrade) and then got a rather hard crust. Working this crust through an electric coffee mill, I ended up with about 10 gram of powdered extract. Which means: an extract of the strength 1:50. 10 dosages out of 500 gram.

I discussed this extraction process with two German pharmacists and the assistants of a plant analytical laboratory of a university. They all assured me that mine has been a proper extraction process.

There isn't much technology to preparing water-based extracts. The solvent has to be water, and just water, otherwise the result would not be an aqueous (water) extract. In proper extracting facilities, they have integrated machines that speed up the evaporation by doing it under high pressure, or by other means. Some companies that sell such evaporating equipment have patents on these machines.

But if a website claims that they have patented the extraction by water of tongkat ali, then that's bulls. They just want you to believe that their extract is special (so that you won't buy somewhere else), and that it justifies an inflated price.

Tongkat ali has been researched well, though not in full. But one thing is certain: the traditional use is as an aqueous extract (extraction by water, as in tea or coffee), and that way, it has been used in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years.

Other extraction possibilities would be by ethanol (alcohol) or chloroform, and a plethora of other chemical solvents. But such extracts have only been tested recently, and only one thing is clear: their LD50 values are much worse than those for aqueous extract. I would not experiment with tongkat ali extracts in which the solvent has been anything but water.

Extract strength is another critical topic. I know from my own experiments that 100 grams of root yield a dried extract of 2 gram. So, 1:50 seems to be genuine strength of an aqueous extract.

Of course, 1:100 sounds much sexier. But who is to check on such claims? Even if a new trader should decide to proclaim that his extract is 1:1000, who is going to examine whether the claim is true?

A 1:100 extract, or one that is proclaimed to be 1:1000, doesn't necessarily contain more active ingredients. In order to turn a 1:50 extract into one that is 1:100, I really just have to discard half of the 1:50 extract. I can do so by passing it through a smaller mesh, which will just remove the coarser part of the ground crust I got from drying the aqueous extract.

Thus, turning a 1:50 extract into a 1:100 extract means just that they sell half the extract, probably for double the price. It says NOTHING about the efficacy of the extract.

Furthermore, there are justified suspicions that what is sold as 1:100 extract may only be root powder. I have seen documents on the FDA website (www.fda.gov) that show that people marketing 1:100 extract capsules have just applied for a registration of tongkat ali powder in capsule form, not of extract in capsules. To see these documents on www.fda.gov, please use their search engine and enter the search term "eurycoma". The scientific, Latin name of tongkat ali is eurycoma longifolia, and official documents deal with the plant under this name. Do not search for "tongkat ali", as this will not get you to the FDA correspondence about the product which is sold as 1:100. A search for the combined name, "eurycoma longifolia", doesn't seem to work well on the FDA site. It is best to just search for "eurycoma" only.

I also cannot recommend purchasing from Internet spam sites.

Their expertise is not tongkat ali but Internet marketing. They know how to force their own site(s) to the top of search engine rankings, and then hunt sales commissions from the manufacturers whose products they promote. This is why the information they provide is not their own but just taken from other sites (like mine) and then more or less reworded.

I believe that it makes sense to buy tongkat ali or tongkat ali extract at the origin. From a company whose product is tongkat ali, and not from a company whose product is Internet marketing, and who will sell any merchandise for which they can get a high search engine ranking.

Tongkat ali meanwhile is a rare plant. A few hundred years ago, it grew all over Southeast Asia. But in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, deforestation has become so widespread that governments were forced to put a total stop on removing anything from forests. In Thailand, the export of anything composed of wood requires special permits. And in Malaysia, tongkat ali has been proclaimed a protected plant that cannot be harvested in the wild.

That only leaves one legal country of origin: Indonesia, or, more specifically, the forests of the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).

I obtain my own supply of extract from an Indonesian wholesale company on Sumatra, and the extract used in the tongkat ali trials I conducted were from the same source.

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