Tongkat Ali Facts: Separating Facts From Sales Ploy

By Tongkat Ali Published on August 7, 2015 Updated on December 26, 2018

It’s hard to get the all the tongkat ali facts when researching information about it. It was hard for me too when originally researching possibly using this product for myself. I’m going to share with you a few commonly discussed tongkat ali topics I’ve found most commonly discussed online.

Tongkat Ali Facts: Separating Facts From Sales Ploy

What do you think happens when a supplement gets popular and a bunch of unscrupulous sellers start selling it? You probably guessed it right, they will start making up stories and facts to put down the competition. That is, if they are even selling the real thing. This is one way tongkat ali facts are confusing to consumers.

Sadly, this is the case of tongkat ali. In recent years tongkat ali has become a very popular supplement, and much contradicting information have flooded the internet. Since this information is comes from mostly the sellers themselves, it’s hard to separate facts from sales ploy.

In this article I would like to throw some light into the most common debates about tongkat ali. In case you didn’t notice, I am a tongkat ali seller myself. I am including full references so that you know is not just my own opinion.

Here are the topics and the actual tongkat ali facts you can actually trust.

Tongkat Ali Must Be From Indonesia

Indonesia Tongkat Ali

This is one of the most popular tongkat ali facts that consumers scrutinize quite often. Tongkat ali grows in the wild in Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s from these two countries where most of the raw materials come from. Sellers that source their products from Indonesia will tell you that you should only buy tongkat ali from Indonesia. Is this true? And if so, why?

First of all, let’s make clear that tongkat ali from Indonesia and Malaysia should be equally effective. The reason why certain sellers started advising against buying Malaysian tongkat ali is because some studies have found that a high percentage of Malaysian traditional medicine supplements were contaminated with heavy metals. A 2004 study of mercury in tongkat ali preparations from Malaysia found that 36% had levels of mercury that did not comply with health regulations, and further concludes that even the 64% that passed the test can’t be considered safe because of batch-to-batch variations. [1]Ang, H. H., Lee, E. L., & Cheang, H.S. (2004). Determination of mercury by cold vapor atomic absorption spectrophotometer in Tongkat Ali preparations obtained in Malaysia. International Journal of Toxicology, 23(1):65-71. DOI: 10.1080/10915810490269654 Furthermore, a 2013 study quantifying the level of Arsenic in Malaysian Traditional Medicine samples found that 43% had Arsenic levels that can adversely affect health. [2]Uddin, A. B., Khalid, R. S., Khan, U. A., & Abbas, S. A. (2006). Determination of Arsenic Content of Available Traditional Medicines in Malaysia using Hydride Generation Atomic Absorption Spectrometry. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 12(6):2006. DOI: 10.4314/tjpr.v12i6.28

Verdict: while both Malaysian and Indonesian tongkat ali should be equally effective, it is true that tongkat ali fom Malaysia could be potentially harmful to consume. If you are considering buying tongkat ali from a Malaysian source, make sure to ask for the heavy metal lab test of the same batch they are currently selling.

Tongkat Ali Must Be of a Certain Color

Despite answering this several times on our website and on social media, this is another common tongkat ali facts from fiction inquiry we get.

The color of tongkat ali extract powder can vary depending on many factors such as extraction procedure. The color typically ranges from creamy / beige to dark brown/ black. Some sellers of the creamy tongkat ali powder have claim that the dark brown tongkat ali powder is not genuine, and the other way around. Which one is correct?

Example of a Chinese Supplier of Tongkat Ali

Unfortunately, you can’t judge the authenticity of a tongkat ali powder extract based solely on the color. This is because Chinese suppliers of tongkat ali (which in case you didn’t know, are very likely to sell you a fake – check my tongkat ali journey) can control the color of the tongkat ali powder during manufacturing. Here is an email I got from a Chinese supplier (no I didn’t buy from them, I was just gathering information on their materials).

tongkat ali color

There you have it, plain and simple. If the makers of Chinese tongkat ali are able to produce any color they want, then you can’t rely on color to tell its authenticity.

Other sellers claim that the creamy colors can’t be authentic because the extraction involves high temperatures (?). I see no correlation between these two. It is true that traditionally Indonesian tongkat ali manufacturers produce dark brown powders. The extraction method used usually takes many hours to complete. This can subject the tongkat ali to oxidative damage that makes the color darker. However, modern extraction methods can complete the process in much less time producing a more clear powder.

It is true that some tongkat ali preparations will use grind root instead of extract powder. That means, they used the root of the tree “as is” instead of boiling it in water and extracting the active components from the boiled water. Grinding will always produce a light color as this is the color of the root, however having a dark color does not guarantee you the real thing.

Verdict: it is not possible to tell tongkat ali authenticity based on powder color alone.

Tongkat Ali Sellers Must Have Nomor Depkes

So this claim goes like this:

ALL sellers, without exception, that claim to sell Tongkat Ali manufactured in Indonesia should be able to show you a Nomor Depkes licence, which is a government required document to produce Tongkat Ali in Indonesia and CANNOT be avoided. Without it the Tongkat Ali is most certainly either being produced illegally OR is fake, you can be 100% certain of this. Even if the seller does not make it themselves they should very easily be able to show you a Nomor Depkes by asking their supplier for a copy of it. All real Indonesian manufacturers will have no problems at all supplying a copy to their distributors, it is common practice. A copy of Sumatra Pasak bumis Certificate, who provide the extract to World A.B.S that we sell is attached.

Be aware of sellers claiming they import the raw roots from Indonesia and make the extract themselves as an excuse for not having a Nomor Depkes. This a common lie and is highly unlikely and impractical. It takes 200 grams of raw root to make 1 gram of 1:200 extract. This means you would need 7200 grams of raw root to produce just 1 bottle of 120 caps at 300mg per cap. Just 100 bottles would take 720,000 grams of raw root (720 kilos). This is a GIGANTIC amount of raw roots to import!

What Nomor Depkes Really Is

tongkat ali facts

The problem with the above claim is that is simply not true. “Nomor depkes” means department of health registration number. The government there requires Indonesian companies to have this certificate. This is for those who are those selling the final product in Indonesia, not just anyone producing tongkat ali powder.

In Pasal 9 of the Indonesian registration guidelines for traditional drug medicines it is stated that for domestic production of traditional medicine, registration should be applied for IOT (Industri Obat Traditional/ traditional medicine industries), UKOT (Usaha Kecil Obat Traditional/ small business traditional medicine) or UMOT (Usaha Mikro Obat Traditional/ micro business traditional medicine). Extract manufacturing facilities such as Javaplant are classified as IEBA (Industri Ekstrak Bahan Alam/ Natural Ingredient extract Industries). They do not produce a final product are not required to have Nomor Depkes registration.

The lack of a Nomor depkes doesn’t imply that a company is selling fake tongkat ali. Any company selling a health supplement should comply with the health regulations of their own country.

Verdict: tongkat ali sellers have to comply with the regulations of their own country. They might or might not have a nomor depkes license.

Serge Kreutz Websites and Tongkat Ali Sellers Databases

Serge Kreutz is a German (self-claim) journalist who writes about 3 main topics: 1. his “Serge Kreutz diet”, 2. sex and 3. tongkat ali. If you search for Serge Kreutz on Google you will find numerous meaningless few letters and numbers domains registered under his name, with either his name or his pseudonym Sam Sanare as a banner on top.

Serge Kreutz tried to promote himself as an independent tongkat ali “expert”. It is no secret that he actively promotes Sumatra Pasak Bumi and slanders other brands without any evidence. From the forum:

serge kreutz tongkat ali

His relationship to Sumatra Pasak Bumi is not clear. His name appears on the german version of the page making the connection obvious. 

serge kreutz

He has built a comprehensive list of tongkat ali sellers in one of his domains. There he claims “dubious source” or plainly naming “tongkat ali scam” to anyone not selling tongkat ali from Sumatra Pasak Bumi.

Verdict: Any information or articles coming from Serge Kreutz or “tongkat ali sellers database” are likely impartial and trying to promote their own brand.


So there you have it. I hope this has cleared up some of the confusion around tongkat ali facts from tongkat ali myths. As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line.

Ready to Buy Tongkat Ali?

Click Below to Get Started

Buy Tongkat Ali >>

References   [ + ]

Fran Sanchez, BSc MSc

About Fran Sanchez, BSc MSc

Fran Sanchez, the founder of Herbolab, graduated from Uppsala University (Sweden) with a master in molecular biology and Karolinska University (Sweden) with a degree in medical sciences and business. He then moved to Singapore to run e-commerce operations in a pharmaceutical company, until eventually, he could fulfill his dream of creating a brand dedicated to help men reach their peak performance. Drawing on his experience as a lifelong multi-sport athlete and cutting edge medical and scientific research, Fran launched herbolab tongkat ali as flagship supplement in April of 2014. Fran now spend most of his time weight lifting and creating content dedicated to improve people’s lives.

More posts by Fran Sanchez, BSc MSc