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Tongkat Ali Vs. Ashwagandha For Athletic Performance: How Do They Compare, And Which One Should You Take?


First: Who am I, and why did we write this article?

I’m Dusan Stojanovic, and I’m a nutrition and supplement content specialist with over four years of experience and 1000s of articles under my belt about topics in the nutrition, supplement, and health and wellness space. I specialize in writing about supplements and how they can be used to optimize your health. 

We published this article because we noticed discussion comparing tongkat ali and ashwagandha, and wanted to create the most comprehensive source of information about the subject, because it also happened to be an area where we have a lot of expertise. The Unwinder specializes in high-quality, trustworthy information about ‘new wellness’ that its readers can use as a reference for making decisions about how they can best optimize their health. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Tongkat ali and ashwagandha are two of the most popular testosterone-boosting supplements used by athletes and bodybuilders to enhance their athletic performance. Lately, there’s been quite a debate over which supplement is better and whether or not you should take them together to maximize results.

There’s plenty of research to support the use of both supplements towards boosting testosterone production, increasing energy,  and lowering cortisol – all incredibly important components of training and getting to the next level.  However, it seems that tongkat ali may have a slight edge over ashwagandha when it comes to providing these specific benefits.

In this article, I’ll review the similarities and differences between tongkat ali and ashwagandha in respect to their health benefits, recommended dosage, and potential side effects to help you determine which one is the best for you. I’ll also discuss whether or not you should combine them to get the best results possible.

Tongkat Ali Vs. Ashwagandha For Athletic Performance

Tongkat ali and ashwagandha are both natural testosterone boosters. Professional athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts all recognize how important this hormone is for overall performance and muscle building which is why the majority of them are constantly looking to try the next big testosterone booster.

However, the reality is that not all supposed testosterone boosters are efficient or even safe. Luckily, tongkat ali and ashwagandha have strong evidence for their safety and efficacy. In addition to boosting testosterone, these supplements are also supposed to improve energy levels, reduce fatigue, and relieve stress.

So, what exactly does research say about their use for athletic performance? Let’s take a closer look. 

Health Benefits

Tongkat Ali, also known as Longjack, is a plant that grows in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for various conditions, including male sexual dysfunction, low libido, diabetes, and cancer. The main ingredient in Tongkat Ali is Eurycoma Longfolia Jack, which contains compounds known as phytochemicals responsible for its health benefits.

Tongkat Ali offers several benefits, such as inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT and can cause hair loss and acne, thereby increasing testosterone levels. It also helps with erectile dysfunction and improves sperm count and motility in men. Additionally, Tongkat Ali contains quassinoids, which can improve sleep quality by increasing the time spent in REM sleep.

Tongkat Ali has also been shown to improve mood states in women with mild depression or anxiety by balancing cortisol levels and restoring hormonal balance. The plant also contains several nutrients, including zinc, which is essential for metabolism, energy production, wound healing, and the production of red blood cells.

In summary , Tongkat ali can boost testosterone levels, reduce fatigue, improve sports performance, and elevate mood. These benefits have been recorded and confirmed in human and animal studies. Here is some of the most recent scientific research on the subject:

  • For example, a 2014 review concluded that tongkat ali has the potential to increase serum testosterone levels and boost sexual health. As a result, it can be a perfect alternative to hormone replacement therapy as it has fewer side effects.
  • Another review conducted on tongkat ali determined that this supplement can reduce fatigue and improve energy levels. In addition, it can help you increase muscle strength and endurance, which significantly improves your athletic performance.
  • A 2013 study revealed that supplementation with tongkat ali helped people reduce tension, anger, and confusion. In addition, the investigation of hormone profiles showed lower cortisol and higher testosterone levels, which are significant for stress reduction and better overall mood.

Just like tongkat ali, the herb Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a great way to help the body manage stress, thanks to its compounds and antioxidants that help the body adapt to stress and reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, Ashwagandha is known to support liver function by flushing out toxins and improving digestion, reducing symptoms of PMS and other hormonal imbalances in women, and fighting inflammation. The herb is also useful in reducing insomnia by promoting relaxation and healthy sleep patterns. Ashwagandha can also help improve cognitive function by increasing focus and concentration, retaining memory among older adults, and reducing symptoms of depression. Additionally, Ashwagandha is known to increase testosterone levels and improve muscle strength, making it an excellent support for athletes looking to improve their performance while staying healthy. Finally, the herb is also great for supporting thyroid function and balancing hormones, which can improve low energy levels and sex drive.

Ashwagandha has been studied more extensively than tongkat ali and the majority of research supports its health benefits.

  • A study examining the effects of ashwagandha supplementation discovered significantly improved testosterone levels in infertile men. In addition, ashwagandha reduced oxidative stress, enhanced antioxidant profiles, and affected other hormones vital for semen quality in men.
  • A 2015 study revealed that ashwagandha supplementation could increase muscle strength and mass, improving the outcomes of resistance training programs. Besides strength improvements, ashwagandha supplementation also has the potential to reduce fatigue, according to a 2021 meta-analysis.
  • Another study revealed ashwagandha’s potential to reduce serum cortisol levels, which is vital for stress and anxiety reduction.

Overall, tongat ali is better if you wish to increase testosterone, boost libido, and improve athletic performance. Ashwagandha will give you a slightly smaller boost in these areas, but it is better for stress and anxiety reduction.

There are no studies examining the effects of these two herbs together. So, although it may seem like a great idea to combine them, we can’t be sure until some solid evidence emerges.

Safety And Side Effects

So far, research shows that both tongkat ali and ashwagandha are safe and have a low toxicity profile. 

A hot water extraction process commonly used in tongkat ali supplements results in an extract that’s safe even at high doses and in long-term consumption. In fact, the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) classified it as Category 5, which means it is extremely safe. That’s because human studies found no adverse side effects.

An ashwagandha safety study determined that the aqueous extract of this herb is safe and well-tolerated. The supplementation had three phases and during each one the dosage was increased by 250 mg per day. Only one participant experienced increased higher appetite, higher libido, and hallucinogenic effects with vertigo, so he was excluded in the first phase of the study.

Taking a dose higher than 300 mg of ashwagandha can cause drowsiness, so that’s one side effect you need to worry about if you want to take this supplement.


A typically recommended tongkat ali dosage is 50-200 mg per day of a hot-water extract standardized to 22% eurypeptides. However, some research suggests that doses as high as 600 mg per day can be safe.

In respect to ashwagandha, a safety trial showed that doses of 1,250 mg per day were safe. However, other evidence suggests that doses of 250-600 mg per day are effective for stress and anxiety reduction.

Should I Take Tongkat Ali or Ashwagandha?

If you are still unsure whether you should take tongkat ali or ashwagandha, the best approach is to consider your goal. Think about the benefits that are the most important to you. For example, do you want to lose weight, boost testosterone, combat stress, or something else?

Both supplements have extensive research backing their health benefits. However, tongkat ali is better for boosting testosterone, enhancing libido, and improving athletic performance. At the same time, ashwagandha is a better choice if you are looking to reduce the effects of chronic stress and anxiety and improve the quality of your sleep. Both supplements seem to be equally effective for weight loss.

If you are interested to read more about tongkat ali and ashwagandha, make sure to read our in-depth guides about each supplement.

Editor’s note: we are regularly updating this article. If you see any problems, weird interpretations of the data, or just want to say hi, please reach out to

Photo by Pixabay

About the author

Dusan is a content writer focusing on biology and science-related topics. His love for biology, nature, and science has helped him gain a better understanding of the world around us. He loves keeping up to date with new research and creating evidence-based content to help improve people’s lives. In his free time, he enjoys hiking trips, camping, exercising, and cooking healthy meals in his tiny kitchen.

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