Tongkat Ali ‘not harmful or toxic but beneficial’

KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities have denied a Taiwanese claim that the plant extract Tongkat Ali poses a health risk.

According to FRIM director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Mohd Ali (picture), the Forest Research Institute Malaysia has been researching Tongkat Ali for 20 years and no toxic or harmful components have been found.

“In fact, Tongkat Ali has known medicinal properties. It also has aphrodisiac properties. It enhances the male libido,” he said.

He was commenting on a German Press Agency report that Taiwan’s capital city Taipei has banned the sale of the popular Malaysian Tongkat Ali coffee.

In the report, a spokesperson for the city government’s Department of Health said it has not been tested, so they do not know whether it affects other ingredients in the coffee or causes side effects.

Dr Abdul Razak said Tongkat Ali has been used here for generations, and there have never been any complaints of side effects.

It is commonly used as treatment for dysentery, glandular swelling, fever, malaria and other ailments.

In the old days, the roots, found only in the jungles of Southeast Asia, had to be brewed for long hours to get a bitter extract. Tongkat Ali now comes in pills or tea bags and is mixed with regular coffee or tea for an extra lift.

Tongkat Ali coffee and tea are widely sold at roadside hawker stalls, supermarkets and even eateries in posh hotels. It is also a popular drink in many other countries.

“There are no side effects for those who consume Tongkat Ali coffee,” stressed Dr Abdul Razak.

The Health Ministry’s Public Health Department Food Quality Control division director Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad said the amount of Tongkat Ali extract used in drinks and food is less than 20 per cent.

He said the ministry has had no complaints from consumers of any side effects after consuming Tongkat Ali.

“We will have to check with the Taiwan authorities on what grounds they have banned Tongkat Ali coffee and what side effects they have found,” said Dr Rahim.

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