Maca vs. Tongkat Ali: Which is the Best Supplement?

Primal Edge Health participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate programs and therefore, may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. This comes at no additional cost to you, and all the prices and availability are accurate at the time of publishing.

What’s the difference between maca vs. tongkat ali? Both are medicinal plants known for their potential benefits for hormonal health, but what sets them apart from each other? And more importantly, which one should you choose?

Bowl of beige powder on the left and pieces of beige roots and slices with green leaves on the right on a white background.

I’m no stranger to adaptogens, but I sometimes still find myself overwhelmed by the multitude of options out there. My husband and I have experience in the superfood industry exporting maca from Ecuador to the US, and we worked with small family farms and local growers. Today, however, there are so many more options for medicinal plants worthy of our attention.

So, what is maca and tongkat ali? And what are their similarities and differences? Let’s find out.

A white bowl filled with beige powder, with a small pile spilled beside it on a white background.

What is Maca?

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) defines maca (Lepidium meyenii, Lepidium peruvianum) as a food medicine that is native to Peru and is traditionally used to improve fertility and sexual performance in men and women. It is also known to reduce menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. 

Maca was a huge passion for my husband and me ever since we explored the Peruvian mountains in 2010. We discovered how and why the locals used maca, and we learned where to find the highest-quality roots that would lead to maca’s potential benefits.

There’s so much more to this medicinal plant than meets the eye. If you want to learn more about the story of maca and Primal Edge Health, download a free copy of Maca: The Andean Adaptogen.

Fresh root slices with green leaf and thin cross-sections of the herb isolated on a white background.

What is Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), also known as long jack, is a popular traditional medicine in Southeast Asia. A 2016 review published by the National Library of Medicine cites that Peruvian natives use it for sexual dysfunction, aging, diabetes, malaria, anxiety, constipation, pain, impaired cognitive function, and more. 

In the West, it rose to popularity mainly due to its potential to help men achieve healthy testosterone levels. The Austin Urology Institute also cites that tongkat ali may be able to increase athletic performance and reduce stress.

Maca vs. Tongkat Ali

Maca and tongkat ali are both known for their potential advantages for sexual health in men and women. Because of their similar benefits, they are often lumped together.

However, there are still some important distinctions between these two medicinal plants. Let’s explore their similarities and differences to help you find out which one is best for your health goals.

Sexual Health

These herbs are both believed to improve sexual function, but the mechanism by which they do so varies. The MSKCC cites several human trials involving maca consumption. Findings suggest that maca may improve subjective sexual health in healthy adults, but it may depend on semen quality.

Researchers also note that maca may improve sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants. In women, the effect of maca may help address the lack of sexual appetite caused by antidepressants and menopause. 

On the other hand, tongkat ali is known to increase testosterone levels in men, according to a 2022 review published in the National Library of Medicine. Increased testosterone may help improve sex drive which can, in turn, address sexual dysfunction primarily caused by low testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. Tongkat ali may also help increase male fertility by boosting sperm motility, but current scientific evidence is limited.

A woman is sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of wine.


An animal study published by the Journal of Medicinal Food revealed that maca extract had effects similar to antidepressants on mice exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress. The researchers suggest that maca can be used as a medicinal food for patients with depression, but further studies may be necessary to pinpoint the specific compounds that lead to these effects. I suggest exploring other adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha that can help relieve stress naturally. 

A similar study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed similar beneficial effects on moderately stressed men and women. Researchers found that tongkat ali extract improved the stress hormone profile and may be a viable treatment for stress caused by daily stress, sleep deprivation, and exercise.

Physical Performance

Some fitness enthusiasts believe that maca and tongkat ali can improve physical performance, particularly endurance and strength. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplements on physical activity and sexual health in sportsmen showed that participants who took maca lasted longer while cycling. 

However, the scope and sample size are limited. The researchers recommended larger-scale clinical studies to further assess the effect of maca on stamina.

On the other hand, tongkat ali is believed to increase muscle mass, strength, and endurance. Research published by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that tongkat ali, combined with resistance training, led to significant improvements in power output.

Similarly, studies on tongkat ali’s effect on physical strength are inconclusive. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want a medicinal herb that has strong evidence for strength improvement.

Woman holding two capsules in her hand with a blurred orange pill bottle in the background.

Which is Better for You?

Now that you know the key differences and similarities between maca vs. tongkat ali, it’s easier to decide which one will have better results for you. It will ultimately depend on your health goals.

Maca may be more beneficial if you want to enhance your libido and relieve stress. It may also be helpful if depression, stress, menopause, or anxiety (or all of these) are contributing to your sexual dysfunction. 

On the other hand, you may find the effects of tongkat ali more beneficial if low testosterone production is the culprit to your depleted sex drive. You may also find it a good natural supplement to increase strength and endurance, especially if you’re an athlete.

Still, I highly recommend talking to a professional before adding any herbal supplements to your diet. Studies are limited on both of these medicinal plants, so take each claim with a grain of salt.

Best Maca and Tongkat Ali Supplements

Maca and tongkat ali supplements can come in many forms, such as powder, capsules, and dried. The easiest way to add maca and tongkat ali to your diet is via powder or capsules. Here are some of my recommendations:

CHOQ Tongkat 100

Tongkat 100 by CHOQ is packed with 100x concentration of tongkat ali, one of the highest concentrations in a daily supplement you can find. It’s made of tongkat ali wildcrafted in the Malaysian rainforest and essential phytochemicals, including eurypeptides, glyco saponins, and eurycomanone.

CHOQ Tongkat 100 is the most extensively researched tongkat ali product in the world, having gone through 23 clinical studies to verify its adaptogen levels. My husband and I use it to maintain our energy levels throughout the day and keep our hormone health in check, but my favorite part about it is that it helps me manage my stress much better.

CHOQ is my go-to brand for adaptogenic supplements and natural herbs, especially because they make sure every clinical trial is safe and thorough. If you want to get 53% off a recurring subscription and learn more about their products, check out my CHOQ supplement review next.

Choq Tongkat Ali

Save 53% off with coupon code BIG53LIFE on all subscriptions.

Buy Now

Mountain Rose Herbs Maca Powder

Mountain Rose Herbs sources their organic maca powder from the high-altitude peaks of the Andes Mountains in Peru. Among the maca powder products I’ve tried, Mountain Rose’s is the highest quality so far, mainly due to its native source and the rigorous way the company ensures its product’s adherence to USDA Organic standards.

It’s made from premium-grade maca powder sourced from Junín, Peru, which is far away from air and water pollution. When my husband and I exported maca from Peru, we focused a lot on products coming from the Junín plateau because maca grown in this area is known to be the crème de la crème.

This maca powder comes with a signature nutty taste, which makes it a tasty addition to coffee, smoothies, desserts, and other sweet foods or drinks. If you have a bigger sweet tooth, try this dairy-free maca chocolate dessert with maca, collagen, and raw cacao.

Mountain Rose Herbs Maca Root Capsules

These maca root capsules are made of yellow, black, and red Peruvian maca root extracts which are responsibly sourced and locally grown. The capsules themselves are made from pullulan, which is a vegan component naturally fermented from tapioca. 

These capsules’ formulation is designed to help you reach your peak performance during work or exercise, as well as keep you alert and awake without caffeine. It has varying effects on everyone, but for me, it helps ward away fatigue during the daytime, especially as a busy parent.

Maca powder is an awesome ingredient for food and drinks, but if you want a super simple way to take maca, I recommend the capsule form. You can add it to your daily vitamins, but you might want to take it earlier rather than later in the day.

Mountain Rose Herbs Maca Extract

Don’t like swallowing capsules or feeling the texture of powder on your food? No worries, this maca extract from Mountain Rose Herbs is another option to take your daily maca. It’s made from dried organic maca from Oregon and has a mild flavor that won’t change the taste of whatever you add it to.

I’ve supported Mountain Rose Herbs for over a decade and their products have never disappointed me. You can add this tincture to smoothies, coffee, juices, or even food like porridge and ice cream. It also mixes well with other extracts like ashwagandha and eleuthero. 

Navitas Organics Maca Powder

Another tried and tested product is this Organic Maca Powder from Navitas Organics. I’ve used various dietary supplements from this brand for over a decade. Their maca root powder is quite sweet, so I like to add it to my hot chocolate, smoothies, and sometimes even my baked goods. Like the powder from Mountain Rose Herbs, it can give you an energy boost and may help improve your stress levels with regular use.

Navitas Organics Maca Powder
$18.53 ($1.16 / Ounce)

Buy Now
04/29/2024 03:36 pm GMT

Final Thoughts

So, what’s better? Maca vs. tongkat ali? It all boils down to your health goals and what your health looks like. If you have low testosterone levels, your doctor may recommend tongkat ali to increase libido and physical performance. 

On the flip side, you might want to try maca if your hormone levels are stable but you need something to improve your sexual health. Your doctor may also suggest maca supplements if you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms.

Either way, I recommend getting your doctor’s approval before trying any herbal supplements. Similarly, reach out to them right away if you experience any adverse effects.

Which one do you prefer? Tell me in the comments below! Explore Primal Edge Health for more health tips, diet recommendations, and recipes.

2 thoughts on “Maca vs. Tongkat Ali: Which is the Best Supplement?”

  1. I had only a vague sense of maca’s health benefits, but this was my first time learning about tongkat ali. Very informative, thank you!


Leave a Comment