Once upon a time some years ago I was introduced to a product called tongkat ali by a friend of mine who’s in the fitness industry. He said that it’s proven to raise testosterone levels and looked like the next big thing for fitness and sexual health problems. I did quite a bit of research and went through scientific articles, I was impressed by the results of the studies in humans and rats so I decided to buy it and give it a try. I was always looking for ways to increase testosterone naturally for muscle gain and I was starting to have some libido problems because of stress at work so this seemed like the perfect product for me at the time.
What followed next was 6 months of frustrated search for the perfect tongkat ali supplement. Like any newcomer to the tongkat ali world, I had read all the warnings and facts posted everywhere in the web (by tongkat ali companies). I had exhausted google searching for ‘Eurycoma longifolia’ (scientific name), ‘Eurycoma longifolia jack’ (another scientific name), pasak bumi (Indonesian name) and tongkat ali (most common name). I found that many people in bodybuilding forums recommended to take only the most concentrated version of the product (1:200) for optimal effect. I also read all the warnings about buying only tongkat ali from Indonesia, make sure is tongkat ali root and not the leaves of the plant, etc. After I gathered the requirements I started scouting for were to buy the supplement.
The Top 5 Tongkat Ali Companies
After much reading I collected a list of what I considered to be the 5 most convincing and legit suppliers and started bombarding them with questions like:
- How can I be sure your tongkat ali is from Indonesia?
- How can I be sure your tongkat ali is concentrated 1:200?
- How can I even be sure you are selling tongkat ali at all (and not tribulus terrestris for example)?
- Can you provide a COA (certificate of analysis) that shows heavy metals and microbiological tests?
- Are you GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified?
- Are you ISO certified?
- Do you have license to sell your products?
The result after a week of waiting was: 2 companies totally ignored me, 2 companies sent me a pre-made sales template addressing only some of my questions and 1 company copy/pasted half of their website in the email hoping I would shut up.
Chinese Tongkat Ali?
To make things worse, I discovered many Chinese ‘tongkat ali manufacturers’ in alibaba.com selling 1:200 tongkat ali powder for as little as USD10 per kg. Tongkat ali only grows wild in the tropical jungle (and becoming increasingly scarce), where the roots are collected by hand. How can a concentrated version of such a precious material be so cheap? Something was clearly off.
I ventured a bit a contacted some of those Chinese suppliers and started asking the same questions. And guess what I discovered? Tongkat ali import in China is restricted, hence they have to smuggle the raw material! They explained that their tongkat ali is sourced from Indonesia but imported under another name. If I had any doubt about the authenticity of their products, now it was pretty clear.
Here is the proof:
How can I be sure that any of the companies selling tongkat ali are not sourcing from China? Even the companies claiming to source from Indonesia, maybe they say so because their Chinese suppliers claim that, but in fact there is no way to prove it because the raw material was smuggled.
Testing and Testing
6 months after I started looking for the best tongkat ali supplement and I still hadn’t found the one I was 100% convinced about. At this point this quest of mine had become a challenge I needed to solve. I decided that it was enough searching and I had to start testing the ones I found most promising. I bought top sellers in amazon (despite fake reviews) and others I found on the internet. I spent a small fortune on tongkat ali supplements but it was worth it because now I could evaluate the effect and the customer service of each company. I bought SD-200, Indonesia tongkat ali 1:100, Sumatra pasak bumi and worldabs.
After I tried them all, I found to be Sumatra Pasak Bumi the best of the bunch (even though I found out later that worldabs was just reselling Sumatra Pasak Bumi). But disappointingly, I found their customer service to be the worst of them. Sumatra Pasak Bumi focus on wholesale customers and they seemed to have very little patience to entertain retail customers like me.
Why I Started Herbolab
After becoming a tongkat ali user I started to recommend the product to my family and friends. Some of them started to buy from me, and I became the point of contact to get information about the product too. Unfortunately there was no company selling 1:200 extract based in Singapore so I had to buy online and have it shipped internationally.
That got me wondering, why not starting a company in Singapore? After all, I already experienced all the hurdles as a customer and knew the product inside out.
Shortly after, herbolab.com was born with the promise of providing the best tongkat ali with the best customer care you can find. What started as a side job (and me running around doing deliveries on a bicycle) has grown beyond all expectations. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who trusted herbolab and helped with its growth.
I have to say the road as an entrepreneurial company dealing with tongkat ali wan’t easy, but more on that in the next chapter…