The active ingredients of tongkat ali are quassinoids.[1]. Quassinoids are natural plant chemicals that belong to a larger group of plant chemicals named terpenoids.[2]. Terpenoids are lipids. [3] Lipids is the scientific name for fats. Fats are, as a rule of thumb, not soluble in water. (One of the biological important characteristics of fats, and lipids in general, is their insolubility in water. [4] ). Lipids bound to protein to form lipoproteins[5]. That happens all the time in nature and the human body.[6] In the human body, fats have to be bound to proteins so that they can be transported in the blood stream.[7] The exact form in which quassinoids are attached to other substances in the tongkat ali root has not been researched. But they are not isolates. When extracted with water and heat, the quassinoids disattach from the root tissue, just as the fat in a chicken leg disattaches when the chicken leg is cooked. The chicken fat swims on top of the water. The fat isn’t dissolved in the water. It’s the same for the quassinoids of tongkat ali root. That the quassinoids can be extracted by water doesn’t mean that the extract would be soluble in water. If the water is removed after extraction, there will be an oily film sticking to the dish, just as in the case of chicken fat after a chicken leg has been boiled.

The extraction process used water, but that doesn’t mean that the resulting product would have a high degree of solubility.

We at Sumatra Pasak Bumi have a definite problem with fakers of our products. Some claim that their own 1:200 tongkat ali extract is of superior quality and superior purity, and cite as proof that their substance is fully water-soluble. But if their substances are fully water-soluble, then they are not quassinoids, and if they aren’t quassinoids they are also not tongkat ali.


1 Rajeev Bhat, A.A. Karim, Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack): A review on its ethnobotany and pharmacological importance, Food Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Minden, Penang, Malaysia

2 Robert B. Bates, Gary S. Linz, Michael S. Tempesta, Structures of eurycomalactone and related terpenoids, The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 1984, 49 (15), pp 2820–2821

3 Guy Ourisson, Yoichi Nakatani, The terpenoid theory of the origin of cellular life: the evolution of terpenoids to cholesterol, Laboratoire de Chimie Organique des Substances Naturelles CNRS, Université Louis Pasteur, Centre de Neurochimie, 5 rue Blaise Pascal, F-67084-Strasbourg, France

4 Campbell, Lipids, The Molecules of Life: Biochemistry, 6th Ed. 68-71; 7th Ed. 74-77

5 Amy Y. Shih, Anton Arkhipov, Peter L. Freddolino, Klaus Schulten, Coarse Grained Protein-Lipid Model with Application to Lipoprotein Particles, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, and Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801

6 Jean-Pierre Desprésa, Claude Allarda, Angelo Tremblaya, Jean Talbota, Claude Bouchard, Evidence for a regional component of body fatness in the association with serum lipids in men and women, Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Québec, Canada. b the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Québec, Canada.

6 Keiji Iriyama, The metabolic distinctiveness of emulsified lipid particles in the bloodstream and its clinical implications, Surgery Today, September 1996, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 673-678