It’s no secret that men’s testosterone levels are on the decline. We won’t get into the reasons why today (you can check out the New York Times bestseller Engineering The Alpha written by our eponymous founder for that). With this, men are looking for natural, safe methods to support their sex drive, energy, and T levels.
Most testosterone boosters are, to be frank, at best total garbage and at worst overpriced. In our experience, the garbage ones don’t use ingredients that really do much. In the overpriced camp, it’s because they combine tons of ingredients that are much cheaper to buy as individual supplements, rather than as a blend.
In that realm of natural testosterone boosters, two names often stand out due to their numerous health benefits: Maca (maca root) and Tongkat Ali. Both have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and have recently gained popularity in the Western world.
In 2023, these two natural ingredients are now more popular than ever as supplements.
We’ve already covered them individually, in this article on tongkat ali supplements, and this one on maca supplements. This article aims to provide a comprehensive comparison of each of them so you can decide which is for you. For specific product recommendations, check out those articles linked above.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Maca, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, is a plant native to Peru. It’s been used for centuries in traditional Peruvian medicine for its numerous health benefits.
Maca is often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” due to its root’s similar shape to ginseng. The root, which is the edible part of the plant, was traditionally used to enhance fertility and sex drive. It was also believed to improve energy and stamina.
Maca is rich in several important vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, copper, and iron. It also contains various plant compounds, including polyphenols and glucosinolates.
Maca is known for its potential to enhance fertility and sex drive, particularly in men. It may also improve mood, learning, and memory. Some studies suggest that it may even boost sports performance and energy.
Tongkat Ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, is a medicinal plant native to Southeast Asia. It’s well-known in the traditional medicine of the region.
Tongkat Ali, often referred to as “Malaysian ginseng, and more hilariously “longjack” has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia to promote health and well-being, enhance strength, and increase libido.
Tongkat Ali is rich in various compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These include alkaloids, quassinoids, and triterpenes.
Tongkat Ali is most commonly used for its potential to boost testosterone levels, making it a popular supplement for men. It may also reduce stress and anxiety, improve body composition and athletic performance, and enhance libido. Some research even suggests that it may have anti-cancer properties.
It has shot up in popularity since 2021, partly thanks to Andrew Huberman, Stanford Neuroscientist, discussing the emerging research on TA and testosterone levels on his podcast.
Now let’s get into the comparison.
When comparing Maca and Tongkat Ali, it’s important to consider their health benefits, potential side effects, and recommended usage and dosage.
Both Maca and Tongkat Ali offer similar health benefits. The both are most well-known for supporting sex drive (libido).
Maca is more well known for its potential to enhance fertility, improve mood, and boost energy and sports performance. On the other hand, Tongkat Ali is popular for its potential to boost testosterone levels, reduce stress and anxiety, improve body composition and athletic performance, and enhance libido.
Like all supplements, both Maca and Tongkat Ali can have potential side effects. Maca is generally considered safe but may cause minor digestive issues in some people. Tongkat Ali is also generally safe but may cause insomnia, irritability, and restlessness in some people, especially at high doses.
The recommended dosage for both supplements can vary depending on the specific product and individual health needs. It’s always best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it as tolerated. As with any supplement, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regimen.
Both Maca and Tongkat Ali have been traditionally used to enhance sexual health, particularly in men.
Both Maca and Tongkat Ali are known for their potential to boost libido. Maca has been used traditionally to enhance sex drive, and several studies support this use. Similarly, Tongkat Ali has been used to increase sexual desire, and some research supports this use.
Maca has been traditionally used to enhance fertility, particularly in men. Some studies suggest that it may improve semen quality in both fertile and infertile men.
Tongkat Ali may also improve sperm quality and motility, potentially enhancing male fertility.
When it comes to helping out in the bedroom, both seem to be effective.
Numerous studies support the use of both Maca and Tongkat Ali for sexual health. However, more research is needed to fully understand their effects and potential benefits. Both of these fall into the category of definitely safe, somewhat promising, definitely not going to radically change your life.
Both Maca and Tongkat Ali are popular among athletes and those seeking to improve their physical performance.
Maca is often used to boost energy and endurance. Some studies suggest that it may improve exercise performance, particularly in endurance events.
This study found that maca extract increased swimming endurance in mice.
As for humans, this study showed a tiny improvement in cycling time. However, these improvements are modest, so don’t expect a panacea for performance from maca.
Tongkat Ali doesn’t seem to have these benefits. If they do, it’s likely as a result of supporting healthy testosterone levels.
For this, we give the nod to maca.
Tongkat Ali is popular among bodybuilders and athletes due to its potential to boost testosterone levels, which can aid in muscle growth and recovery. Maca on the other hand hasn’t shown that it can directly boost testosterone, and seems doubtful for its direct role in muscle growth and recovery.
In this realm, tongkat ali is likely to have more benefits.
While both have been studied, neither have been studied extensively. However, given their increased popularity, I predict that over the next 5-10 years we’re going to know a lot more about these natural ingredients, and have a better idea of whether they’re worth it or not.
GIven their safety profile though, the best way to know if they’re for you is to try them. Run a self-experiment.
Okay, So Which One Should I Take?
I would say overall if strength and muscle gain is your goal, go with tongkat ali. If mood and energy is your goal, go with maca.
In this section, we will address some of the most common questions about Maca and Tongkat Ali.
Yes, Maca and Tongkat Ali can be taken together. In fact, you’ll see them often paired in men’s hormone support supplements.
One such example is Kaged Ferodrox. Ferodrox also contains adaptogens like ashwagandha, which support healthy cortisol levels, along with other simple, effective ingredients.
Both Maca and Tongkat Ali are generally considered safe, but they can cause side effects in some people. Maca may cause minor digestive issues, while Tongkat Ali may cause insomnia, irritability, and restlessness, especially at high doses. As for interactions, both supplements can interact with certain medications, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting.
While both Maca and Tongkat Ali are generally safe for most people, certain individuals should avoid them. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and individuals with hormone-sensitive conditions. Again, consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.
We tend to lean towards recommending single ingredient products. That way you can know which ingredients are helping you, and also not pay for overpriced blends.
Disclaimer: Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement, including maca root and tongkat ali.