Tongkat ali is an herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Most of the popularity of this supplement revolves around its use as an aphrodisiac, but it has many more uses. Traditionally, the Malaysian herb was used for everything from fatigue to malaria. It may seem odd to use an aphrodisiac for something like arthritis. In fact, the two conditions don’t have much in common, and it may seem counterintuitive that tongkat ali could help with any of the problems that arthritis presents.
The great thing about this supplement, though, is that it has systemic effects that are only now being uncovered as tongkat ali is studied more closely. Although it does not seem to help with swelling, inflammation, or pain, it does help to improve the strength and integrity of supportive tissue, such as muscle, bone, and cartilage. While you will need to use other medications to control inflammation, tongkat ali can be a great adjunct to helping your body regain the strength it may have lost and allow you to fully participate in physical therapy.
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability, and it is actually an umbrella term for several different conditions. Mostly, arthritis affects the joints and leads to their destruction. Although it tends to manifest most painfully in the large joints of the knees and hips, it can occur in the joints of the hands, feet, and spine, as well. Different factors determine how the joint capsule and the adjacent bones breakdown, and two types are particularly well known: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are several others, such as gout and psoriatic arthritis that breakdown the joints due to other causes.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it occurs due to the normal wear and tear of aging on the joint. As the person ages, the joint becomes less able to handle the strain of the body, and this causes cartilage to breakdown, inflammation to occur, and pain to center around the joint. Even younger patients can get this type of arthritis if they are active. Rheumatoid arthritis is the breakdown of the joint due to the immune system. In this type, the body attacks the joint structures, causing pain, inflammation, and deterioration. Both types are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and sometimes joint replacement.
Traditional Uses of Tongkat Ali
Tongkat ali is traditionally used for male sexual performance, but that is not its only traditional role. In fact, it can help increase energy, reduce fatigue, and help build muscle mass. The natural influx of testosterone from the herbal supplement is beneficial for both men and women. It helps to protect bones against the ravages of osteoporosis, and the increase in muscle mass is helpful to both sexes in various situations.
The herb also tends to increase blood flow, and often joints suffer from a lack of adequate blood supply. By increasing the amount of nutrients to the joint structures through the use of tongkat ali, the body is better able to heal the torn cartilage, strained ligaments, or damaged joint capsules. Unfortunately, the research into tongkat ali has focused mainly on its ability to increase sexual function, and that focus has been primarily in men. The balancing of the sex hormones, especially in older age, can help to reverse some of the primary conditions that occur due to age: osteoporosis, heart disease, and loss of strength. More research needs to be conducted into the various benefits of tongkat ali for both sexes to find the extent to which it can help people with various conditions.
Tongkat Ali’s Effects on Arthritis
Even though tongkat ali cannot affect the primary processes of arthritis, such as inflammation, it can help in other ways.
First, it increases muscle mass and strength in both men and women. This allows it to support the joint that is suffering from arthritis and help the patient through the physical rehabilitation that comes with treating any form of arthritis.
Second, it helps to increase blood flow to all tissues, not just reproductive ones, and this can aid the body in repairing the damage that arthritis has caused.
Third, the herb is well known for increasing bone strength and density. With aging and the loss of sex hormones, osteoporosis can set in, weakening the bones that comprise the joints. When the sex hormones are regulated with a substance such as tongkat ali, the bone weakening of osteoporosis can be reversed. This means that the joint is more stable and able to support the weight of the body. Even if you need surgery to replace a joint, taking tongkat ali can be helpful because it will increase your ability to heal, allow for proper joining of the bones with the prosthetics, and give your muscles the much needed boost they need to recover from a very invasive surgery.