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Biotropics Malaysia Adopts Tongkat Ali through ABC's Adopt-an-Herb Program

AUSTIN, Texas (November 6, 2017) The American Botanical Council (ABC) recognizes Biotropics Malaysia’s adoption of tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia) through ABC’s Adopt-an-Herb botanical education program. Tongkat ali is a Southeast Asian flowering treelet that has been used traditionally for a variety of purposes, including as an aphrodisiac, adaptogen, and general health tonic.

Biotropics Malaysia’s tongkat ali adoption supports ABC’s extensive HerbMedPro database, ensuring that this essential resource remains up-to-date for researchers, health professionals, industry, students, consumers, and all members of the herbal and dietary supplements community.

HerbMedPro is a comprehensive, interactive online database that provides access to important scientific and clinical research data on the uses and health effects of more than 250 herbs, spices, and medicinal plants.

“When ABC offered us an opportunity to ‘adopt an herb’…, we felt honored to take up the task,” wrote Azreena Abas, marketing and technical specialist at Biotropics Malaysia. “HerbMedPro is a great resource for the herbal industry and community in the US (globally too) and allows for proper dissemination of credible information on tongkat ali.”

According to Abas, Malaysian tongkat ali is popular as an energy drink among the local aborigines and as a postpartum concoction. “It has evolved into a high-value herbal ingredient for supplements and health foods for both men and women,” Abas wrote. “A lot of misconceptions have arisen from inappropriate claims and use, so setting the information straight through a credible avenue provided by ABC … would be the best way to preserve the ‘right’ identity for Malaysian tongkat ali.” According to Abas, some of the misconceptions about tongkat ali have also arisen from adulterated products labeled to contain tongkat ali.

Abas added: “We hope to showcase the best of Malaysia’s biodiversity through one of its treasures, the tongkat ali plant. The [body of research on] this plant is growing and we hope to have more people engaged in the practice of consuming tongkat ali and ethically commercializing the plant, using legitimate information such as [that] found on HerbMedPro.”

ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal said: “ABC is grateful to the people of Biotropics Malaysia for their adoption of tongkat ali on ABC’s HerbMedPro database. Their adoption allows ABC to stay current on all of the new scientific and clinical publications on tongkat ali in peer-reviewed journals for the benefit of international researchers, educators, and industry members. Tongkat ali has become popular in the past decade, in part due to the growing body of scientific research on this interesting medicinal plant. Currently, thanks to Biotropics Malaysia, there are more than 175 scientific articles compiled on the tongkat ali record in HerbMedPro.”

About Tongkat Ali

Tongkat aliis a slender, spindly tree or shrub in the botanical family Simaroubaceae that is native to and widely distributed in Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, the tree can be found in coastal forests with sandy soil and in higher-elevation dipterocarp forests (tall-tree forests in Southeast Asia) at about 1,000 meters (3,281 feet). However, widespread harvesting has reportedly depleted wild populations of tongkat ali.

The tree can grow to between 15 and 18 meters (49 and 59 feet) tall with a large, dense, umbrella-like rosette of compound leaves. The Malaysian common name tongkat ali translates to “Ali’s staff,” “Ali’s root,” or “Ali’s umbrella.” There are many other regional names for the species.

Traditionally, root preparations of the plant have been used as a male aphrodisiac, to treat general sexual dysfunction, and to help older adults adapt to the decreased energy, mood, and libido that come with age. Root preparations may help restore hormonal balance (e.g., testosterone and cortisol levels) and lessen risks associated with “andropause” such as osteoporosis. Root preparations have also traditionally been used to treat fever and malaria, among other conditions. In addition, leaf preparations have reportedly been used to soothe itches, the fruits have been used to treat dysentery, and the bark has been used as a vermifuge (to expel parasites).

Tongkat ali is mainly used for its roots, which requires harvesting the entire plant. This has caused concerns about the long-term sustainability of the species. In Malaysia, the species is afforded some legal protection, but there are some concerns that it may become extinct without increased cultivation and replanting efforts.

Tongkat ali roots are still sourced from the wild because these materials are considerably less costly than materials from field planting or integrated planting (in which tongkat ali is cultivated with other plants, including oil palm, coconut, rubber, and forest species). However, government-established herbal cultivation parks in Pahang and Terengganu states will supplement ongoing tongkat ali cultivation at other established sites throughout the country.

Tongkat ali’s adoption page can be found here. The HerbMedPro record on tongkat ali is available here.

About Biotropics Malaysia

Biotropics Malaysia is based in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, and was incorporated in 2007 to develop and commercialize the country’s bio-resources into reliable natural health products. The company’s mission is to turn yesterday’s traditional approach to health and well-being into tomorrow’s innovative health solutions by verifying time-honored traditions with modern science.

Biotropics Malaysia’s products include proprietary standardized extracts, natural dietary supplements, and ingredients for nutraceutical, functional food, and so-called cosmeceutical applications. In addition, the company continuously develops herbal medicines and botanical drugs. It produces Physta, a patented, standardized, clinically-studied, water-soluble extract of the roots of tongkat ali. According to the company, Physta has been clinically shown to be able to support hormonal balance, combat stress and anxiety, and improve vitality, quality of life, sexual health, energy, strength, body measurements, and immunity.

The company has incorporated a tongkat ali sustainability program within its supply chain to ensure seedling replenishment during its collection practice with the Orang Asli indigenous people. This program is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA), and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM).

About Adopt-an-Herb and HerbMedPro

Biotropics Malaysia is one of 50 companies that have supported ABC’s educational efforts to collect, organize, and disseminate reliable, traditional, and science-based information, including clinical studies, on herbs, medicinal plants, and other botanical- and fungal-based ingredients through the Adopt-an-Herb program. This program encourages companies, organizations, and individuals to “adopt” one or more specific herbs for inclusion and ongoing maintenance in the HerbMedPro database. To date, 56 herbs have been adopted.

Each adopted herb is continuously researched for new scientific articles and pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical studies, ensuring that its HerbMedPro record stays current and robust. The access to the studies is conveniently organized by type of publication, with each study condensed to a one-sentence summary with a link to each study’s official abstract on PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine’s free-access database) or other publicly-accessible database.

HerbMedPro is available to ABC members at the Academic level and higher. Its “sister” site, HerbMed, is available to the general public at no cost, with access to 25-30 herb records from the larger HerbMedPro database. In keeping with ABC’s position as an independent research and education organization, herb adopters do not influence the scientific information that is compiled for their respective adopted herbs.