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So, this is the year you wanna get healthy.
There’s just one problem – you have 300 different supplements to pick from. So how do you know which one to take?
Well, in my Supplement Comparison Series, I take 2 supplements and put them against each other on pros, cons, cost, and more. The goal isn’t to choose a “winner”, but to help you decide which one is best for you.
Up next, we have Ashwagandha vs Tongkat Ali.
Here’s whether you should take Ashwagandha or Tongkat Ali:
If you want to reduce anxiety or lower your blood sugar levels, you should go for Ashwagandha. But if you want to reduce stress or improve fertility, you should go for Tongkat Ali.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania Sommnifera) is a herb native to India that’s been used for many health conditions for over 4,000 years. It’s a member of the Solanaceae family of plants which includes popular vegetables like potatoes and eggplants.
It’s known for its ability to promote feelings of calmness, wellbeing, and strength in people.
In the Sanskrit language, Ashwagandha loosely translates to the smell of a horse, suggesting it can give you the strength of a stallion.
(Ashwagandha root allegedly smells like horse sweat. A fair trade-off for giving you the strength of a stallion in my view!)
What is Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) is a shrubby tree native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Southeast Asia.
Seen as a national treasure in Malaysia, Tongkat Ali has been used for its health promoting properties for many centuries.
Like Ashwagandha, it works as an adaptogen meaning it helps your body adapt to stress.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels
High blood sugar levels can give you an energy crash, leading to fatigue, mood swings, and brain fog.
This low energy state will steal your will power, meaning you’re more likely to gorge on sugary foods which will restart this cycle.
(This is how lots of people become addicted to junk food.)
But not to worry – recent research shows that Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels.
For example, a study of 12 subjects looked at how Ashwagandha powder changed their blood sugar levels.
After using Ashwagandha for a month, their blood sugar levels were lowered by amounts comparable to a blood sugar lowering drug.
Ashwagandha may help increase muscle size and strength
Although Ashwagandha is rarely discussed in the weightlifting community, research shows it’s useful for those wanting to get bigger and stronger.
A study of 57 people investigated the effects of Ashwagandha on muscle size and strength.
Each day of the study, some participants took 600mg of Ashwagandha and the others took a placebo.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha users had bigger increases in muscle size, strength, fat loss, and testosterone levels than the others.
Ashwagandha may help increase testosterone levels
Lots of people have lower than ideal T levels nowadays.
There are a few reasons for this including low-fat diets, poor sleep hygiene, and lower meat consumption.
But low T levels are nothing to scoff at – they may even contribute to depression in aging men. (Source)
And this is where Ashwagandha proves to be useful.
A study of 75 infertile males found that Ashwagandha supplementation increased Seminal testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha may help relieve anxiety
Here’s a shocking fact for you.
Over 40 million US adults suffer from anxiety disorders.
This makes anxiety the most common mental illness in America.
Well according to research, Ashwagandha may be effective at relieving anxiety.
In one study, the subjects took either 600mg of daily Ashwagandha or a placebo for 2 months.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha group had a bigger reduction in scores on the stress test than the placebo group.
Another study compared the anxiety levels of subjects taking either Ashwagandha or a placebo each day for 6 weeks.
By the end of the study, 88% of the Ashwagandha takers had less anxiety.
Benefits of Tongkat Ali
Tongkat Ali may help reduce stress
Research suggests that Tongkat Ali may be useful for those under stress.
In one study, 63 people under stress took either 200mg of daily Tongkat Ali or a placebo for 4 weeks.
By the end of the study, the Tongkat Ali takers reported less stress, anger, and tension.
They also had lower levels of cortisol in their saliva.
(Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone.)
Tongkat Ali may help increase T levels
Like Ashwagandha, Tongkat Ali may help boost your T levels.
In one study, 76 subjects with low T levels took 200mg of daily Tongkat Ali for a month.
The results showed that 90% of the subjects had healthy testosterone levels after taking Tongkat Ali.
Tongkat Ali may help boost male fertility
According to research, Tongkat Ali may help improve male fertility.
For example in one study, 109 subjects took either 300mg of daily Tongkat Ali or a placebo for 12 weeks.
The results showed that the Tongkat Ali takers had an 18% increase in seminal fluid volume and a 44% increase in sperm motility.
In another study, 75 sub-fertile males took 200mg of daily Tongkat Ali for 3 months.
According to the results, the Tongkat Ali significantly improve their sperm quality.
Tongkat Ali may help increase muscle size and strength
Like Ashwagndha, Tongkat Ali may help boost muscle gains and strength.
For example in one study, 25 people took 400mg of daily Tongkat Ali for 5 weeks.
According to the results, the subjects had significantly increased strength after taking Tongkat Ali.
In another study, 14 people took either 100mg of daily Tongkat Ali or a placebo for 5 weeks.
The results showed that the Tongkat Ali takers had bigger increases in lean mass than the placebo takers.
Ashwagandha is usually sold in tablets or as a liquid extract.
Standard prices for these are:
- Tablets: $18 for 100
- Liquid Extract: $17 for 2 Oz
Tongkat Ali Cost
Tongkat Ali is normally sold as a powder or in capsules.
Here are some typical prices for these:
- Powder: $20 for 100g
- Capsules: $23 for 120
Ashwagandha Side Effects
The majority of people who take Ashwagandha supplements experience few adverse effects, but in some clinical studies, the following side effects have been reported:
- Upset stomach
Also, since Ashwagandha can affect your blood sugar levels, those taking medications that affect your blood sugar levels should speak to a doctor before supplementing with Ashwagandha.
The following people should avoid Ashwagandha:
- Pregnant women
- People with stomach ulcers
- People with low/high blood pressure
- People who are allergic to Solanaceae plants, i.e. Potatoes, Eggplants, etc.
- People with autoimmune conditions, i.e. Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
Tongkat Ali Side Effects
Like Ashwagandha, Tongkat Ali is well tolerated by most healthy adults and side effects are usually rare.
But until further research is done, pregnant/nursing women and children should avoid supplementing with Tongkat Ali.
My Ashwagandha Recommendation: NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha
An organic, high strength, and fair priced Ashwagandha supplement.
You can’t go wrong with NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha.
What I like about it
I love that this Ashwagandha contains only organic, natural ingredients meaning it’s free from any nasty herbicides or pesticides.
Just as nature intended.
Another good feature is the addition of black pepper extract.
Well, it’s believed that Ashwagandha is more bioavailable when taken with black pepper extract, which means your body utilizes it better.
The reviews are stellar too, which shows that many people have used this supplement with amazing results.
Assuming you follow the recommended serving size and take it every day, a bottle will only last a month or so which is a bit of a pain.
Check price and read more reviews of NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha on Amazon.
My Tongkat Ali Recommendation: Holistic Bin Tongkat Ali
An epic powdered Tongkat Ali supplement.
Perfect for those who enjoy the freedom to choose how much Tongkat Ali they want to take.
What I like about it
It’s great that this supplement is powdered, as you can easily experiment with the dosage to meet your own needs.
(Some people will see better results from a lower dose and others will from a higher dose.)
Also, the fact that the Tongkat Ali is extracted at a low heat is awesome as this helps retain more nutrients.
And as a nice bonus, this supplement contains 100% pure Tongkat Ali powder.
So you know you’re not wasting your money on cheap fillers and binders.
While I’m a big fan of powdered supplements, some people may be put off by the taste.
If this is you, then you may want to look elsewhere.
Check price and read more reviews of Holistic Bin Tongkat Ali on Amazon.
Can You Take Ashwagandha And Tongkat Ali Together?
Currently, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that Ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali taken together cause negative reactions.
Also, some testosterone boosting formulations contain both Ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali, which suggests that they’re safe to consume together.
That said, we’re all biologically unique, and what’s safe for me isn’t necessarily safe for you. So if you’re unsure, you should always consult a medical doctor.
Tongkat Ali vs Ashwagandha: The Verdict
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Ashwagandha vs Tongkat Ali breakdown.
These are both epic supplements that aren’t too pricey and offer so many benefits.
Hopefully, you’ve now made your decision of which one to go for.
But for those on the fence, here’s a simple guide to help you decide:
You might prefer Ashwagandha if:
- You suffer from anxiety
- You want lower your blood sugar levels
You might prefer Tongkat Ali if:
- You suffer from stress
- You want to improve your sperm health
That’s all for this article, but perhaps you’re interested in Ashwagandha vs Maca? Or what about Fenugreek vs Ashwagandha?
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.
Sunday 16th of January 2022
Can both herbs be used together
Friday 11th of March 2022
Hey Dr Burki, you should probably check this with a medical doctor to be sure.