On the tongkat ali market, you have it all: scams, quackery, bogus science, dummy products, and gimmickry. What is hard to come by is evidence-based, audited tongkat ali, backed by public health authorities and therefore government-approved.
Scams are the most dangerous scheme. Scammers sell fakes which in reality are contaminated junk from kitchen labs, forge documents, fabricate their own reviews, steal content from other sites, and tell a lie in every sentence. Scams are covered extensively in this review.
The tell-tale sign of quackery are formulated products that mix tongkat ali with other ingredients, typically advertised with esoteric vocabulary. These products are easy to identify and easy to avoid.
Bogus science refers to non-applicable academic processes and terminology, or invents its own (eurypeptides) in order to impress site visitors. Bogus science is con artistry, often crafted by scammers.
Dummy products are tongkat ali somehow, but not functional. This applies to all root powders in capsules, as well as liquid extracts. Most items sold by large supplements chains are just dummies.
Gimmickry refers to trade items that print tongkat ali on their labels but contain miniscule amounts of the herbal, if any at all. Most tongkat ali coffees, teas, and beverages are appropriately classified as gimmickry.
The above categories of tricking, cheating, and defrauding often overlap. But they are all rooted in the fact that tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia by scientific name, pasak bumi in the Indonesian vernacular) is rare, and unique with its androgenic properties. It is the herbal most sought-after by men and women who want to improve sexual function or libido, and by bodybuilders who want to boost testosterone synthesis to gain mass or increase the size of their genitals to normal after cycles of anabolic steroids (see this YouTube hit of a bodybuilder commenting on his penis dimensions).
Alas, genuine tongkat ali is hard to come by. The plant is threatened with extinction in Malaysia, and wide forest fires deplete resources in Indonesia. Because genuine tongkat ali is rare, it also is expensive. Such circumstances result in a temptation to cheat. Scammers typically substitute other herbals or concoctions of stearate and bootleg drugs for Tongkat Ali, circumventing supply bottlenecks and maximizing profits at the same time, at the expense of gullible consumers.
Our tongkat ali is genuine. Ours is one of very few companies who actually have access to tongkat ali deep inside tribal forests in Indonesia (photographic proof), and we stock enough Tongkat Ali to be a credible manufacturer (photographic proof). We are a source of tongkat ali botanical documentation (photographic proof), run our own extraction facility (photographic proof), and use the laboratories of the Universitas Sumatra Utara for analytical chemistry (photographic proof). We have daily retail and wholesale deliveries, and probably are the world’s only supplier of container-quantities of Tongkat Ali root (photographic proof). Our products have been extensively tested for many years (lab reports), and they are government-approved (licenses).
So, what are the alternatives? Major-brand Tongkat Ali in the US? The New York attorney general has sent a warning letter to brick-and-mortar distributors to take herbal products off the shelves because they are mostly fillers (New York Times).
Our manufacturing is entirely based on Tongkat Ali. We only utilize processed root as extract binder, and refrain from using stearic acid, derived from slaughterhouse remnants, road-kill carcasses, euthanized pets, and farm animals that died from diseases, all of which are cooked up in rendering plants (YouTube 1, YouTube 2, YouTube 3). While YouTube can communicate how it looks, there is no technology yet to broadcast the incredible stink.
We suggest that those interested in purchasing a tongkat ali product pay some attention to labels and stated supplement facts (see here for a selection of stearic acid tongkat ali), and think twice before buying something that lists stearic acid or stearate, which are the prime outputs of rendering plants. Not only is knowledge about the origins of stearic acid or stearate extremely unappetizing. There are also health concerns which one certainly does not want associated with a product supposed to support sexual health. The mad cow disease (Spongiform Encephalopathies) was spread by products of rendering plants. Theoretically, rendering plants at some locations are now prohibited from processing spinal cords, but look at above video coverage. Nobody is going to remove spinal cords from animal corpses there.
And then, mad cow disease (BSE) is not the only potential health risk of stearic acid and stearate (Source 1, Source 2). Large brands at least print it on their labels when they use stearic acid or stearate as a filler. But the scammers who claim to sell 1:200 tongkat ali extract and lie about their material, lie about GMP, lie about HPLC, fake lab documents, and fake reviews… they will certainly lie about stearic acid and stearate, too. Quite possibly, they sell a powder in capsules that is 90 percent Chinese stearic acid, and 10 percent of a sildenafil analogue. People don’t have to suffer from mad cow disease first, before being stupid enough to trust without proof.
Is Tongkat Ali coffee a cheap alternative? The FDA has sent a warning letter (Fox News) to the distributor of Stiff Bull for lacing their drink with a sildenafil analogue. The laconic excuse of the importer: desmethyl carbodenafil was added to offset the costs of tongkat ali.
By any standard, tongkat ali fraud is rampant. The most blatant case in point are Internet-savvy scammers who make it to the first and second page of Google search results for tongkat ali. They claim to sell their own versions of our 1:200 extract, when in fact, they can’t even come up with a legitimate source for tongkat ali roots, much less for anything 1:200. Their expertise is anyway not ethnobotany, but black-hat search engine optimization, and the spinning of lies to milk men eager to improve sex, develop their physique, or kickstart testosterone synthesis to get over the side effects of steroids.
How to protect yourself? First of all, be very critical of anything that claims 1:200 and cannot be traced back to us.
Second, don’t be fed stories about unnamed GMP extraction facilities in Germany, or a factory in Indonesian Java that doesn’t need to be licensed because it only produces for export. Always demand to know names and locations of the manufacturers of what you intend to swallow.
Don’t be intimidated. Some scammers react quite aggressively on inquiries into their bootlegs. Usually they blame you for having read cautioning advise like what is presented here, and then they scream, sort of, that their tongkat ali is best ever sold, and that they are the most honest traders on the surface of this planet. Stay calm, just demand to know who manufactures what they sell, and ask for confirmation at the source.
Third, check for photographic proof. This is advice that has been propagated by us and consumer protection advocates for more than a decade. And it has prompted some retailers to echo the sentiment, and try to comply. But among those, one guy, a bodybuilder imitating Hulk Hogan (congratulations on your victory over the Gawker pest, and kudos to Peter Thiel for funding this privacy-intruding cancer), got it wrong and provokes sympathy rather than credibility (see here for some harmless fun).
Now, we know that among bodybuilders are many exhibitionists (see one in action here). But hey, we are talking of photographic evidence for tongkat ali here, and not of photographic evidence for your muscles.
Any genuine business involved with a plant as rare as tongkat ali should be proud to display imagery that they actually collect it in the wild (photographic proof), stock sufficient quantities to show that indeed they are in substantial trade (photographic proof), and manufacture a product (photographic proof).
They should be proud to show off premises and facilities. And when you see the pictures, look for marks that properly identify them. Pressed for visual evidence, some scammers don’t shun away from displaying skyscrapers and oil refineries and telling viewers that, hey, here is our office tower and tongkat ali extraction plant. Anyway, these people operate on the presumption that the world is populated by fools and idiots.
On the other hand, scammers aren’t necessarily the cream of human intelligence either. Their smartness is selective. They know how to relieve other people of their money through con artistry, but even their general knowledge is shallow, and a scientific background non-existent.
That doesn’t stop them from garnishing their sales talk with scientific terminology. The task is to impress low-brows and rednecks only, as site visitors with above-average intelligence won’t buy from them anyway. Here some examples of the scientific nonsense they postulate.
No surprise then that they also fabricate documents which they then cite as evidence, or simply steal documents from other cites, or resort to outright forgery. Doesn’t matter that their lies are easily unveiled, as anyway, Internet scammers are at a safe distance from their victims and don’t have to fear lynching mobs (graphic Indonesian footage). And they don’t set foot on Indonesia, where lynching, often accompanied by burning victims alive, is shockingly common (Jakarta Post, The Conversation).
Because it works with unsuspecting minds and borderline Alzheimer’s, con artists like to decorate themselves with academic credentials, and they garnish their bios with invented recognitions (click this sidekick when in the mood for some fun)
From bloated academic credentials it’s a short ascent to the fabricating of lab certificates (see here). Proper lab certificates are issued by authoritative bodies, and of course, they are signed by a lab head who takes responsibility.
But where to obtain when the tongkat ali 1:200 extract is an outright fake anyway?
While self-aggrandisement with irrelevant and invented titles is typical for a petty cheapish cheater, and the fabrication of certificates is still just con artistry that requires stupid believers, the scammer graduates to full criminal conduct when he starts forging certificates with the letterheads of a university, and the signature of a real professor (see here).
Poor Drs Awaluddin Saragih of the Universitas Sumatra Utara, being abused in the tongkat ali scams of a Singaporean self-proclaimed masturbation expert.
Birds fly, dogs bark, scammers scam, and fakers fake. Not just certificates, but also customer reviews. We at tongkatali.org do not run a customer review plugin. Customer reviews are childish, and have low credibility. They are often doctored: written by people who want to sell something. Great product (of course), fast shipping (of course), everything as expected (of course). Fakespot is a website dedicated to uncover review fraud by tracing reviews to identical IP addresses, or uncovering irregularities such as the bulk of reviews posted on a single day, or the offer of a discount for reviews posted before the product has been shipped. The lowest trustworthiness score of Fakespot is F. Examples of review scammers caught with their pants down, see here.
Information, statements and products on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.