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Eurycoma longifolia



Vernacular Names:

Malaysia Tongkat Ali, Bedara Pahit, Bedara Putih, Pedu Pahit, Bidara Laut.
Indonesia Pasak Bumi
Vietnam Cay Ba Binh

General Information


This evergreen tree reaches 15m in height, with spirally arranged pinnate leaves 20-40cm. The flowers are doecious, with male and female flowers on different trees. The fruit is green ripening dark red, 1-2cm long and 0.5-1cm broad.

Plant Part Used:

Root, stem and bark

Chemical Constituents:

The plant contains a series of quassinoids [1-4], which are mainly responsible for its bitter taste, quassinoid glycoside [5], squalene derivatives [6], biphenylneolignans [7], tirucallane-type triterpenes [8], canthine-6-one [9] and b-carboline alkaloids [10].

Traditional Used:

This plant is popularly sought after singly or an essential component in herbal remedies for a variety of illnesses, including aches, fevers, malaria, ulcer, cancer, and sexual insufficiency, and as health supplements, but has never been indicated strongly for any specific illness. The plant is also sought for traditional medicinal uses by the locals as a health tonic.

Pre-Clinical Data


Chemical constituents from E. longifolia were found to exhibit antineoplastic activity [11-16], antimalarial [17-20), aphrodisiac properties [21-23] antiulcer [24], antipyretic [25], antitumour and antischistosomal activity [26].


The most cytotoxic squalene derivative, 14-deacetyl eurylene, exhibited the lowest IC50 value of 0.52mg/mL against the KB cells [27].  The tirucallane type triterpenes were also cytotoxic towards both the P388 and KB cells.  Dihydroniloticine (IC50 value of 0.55mg/mL) exhibited cytotoxic activity against the KB cells but was only slightly active against the P388 cells (IC50 value of 20mg/mL) [28].  Among the tirucallane type triterpene, melianone (IC50 value of 0.83mg/mL) displayed the highest cytotoxic activity against the P388 cells.  All the biphenylneolignans isolated from E. longifolia did not display cytotoxic activity against the P388 and KB cells [29].  The analogues of canthin-6-ones, 9-methoxycanthin-6-one and 9-hydroxycanthin-6-one were both cytotoxic towards the P388 with IC50 values of 1.4 and 2.1mg/mL respectively [30]. Longilactone, eurycomalactone, 7a-hydroxyeurycomalactone, 5,6-dehydroeurycomalactone, 6-dehydroxylongilactone exhibited strong cytotoxic activity with IC50 values ranging from 0.11 to 3.4mg/mL towards in vitro murine leukaemia, P388 cells, and human nasopharynx carcinoma,KB cells [31].  Eurycomanone exhibited cytotoxic activity toward the KB cells with an IC50 value of 1.9mg/mL but not much activity against the P388 cells (IC50 value more than 20mg/mL). 14,15b-Dihydroxyklaineanone was active on both the P388 and KB cells with IC50 values of 0.29 and 0.38mg/mL respectively. Natural analogs of eurycomanone, 13a(32)-epoxyeurycomanone, 15-acetyl-13 a(33)epoxyeurycomanone, 12,15-diacetyl-13 a(34)epoxyeurycomanone, 15b-acetyl-14-hydroxyklaineanone, 6 a-acetoxy-14,15b-dihydroxyklaineanon and 6 a-acetoxy-15b-hydroxyklaineanone exhibited cytotoxic activity against the P388 cells with IC50 values ranging from 7.2 to 15mg/mL [35]. The 9-methoxycanthin-6-one and canthin-6-one exhibited significant cytotoxicity against human lung cancer A549 and human breast cancer (MCF-7) cells [36].

Anti-malarial activity

Eurycomanone was also active against the multi-drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum, K-1 and the chloroquine resistant CDC Indochina III, W-2, strains with IC50 values of 0.11 and 0.048mg/mL respectively [37-38]. Through bioactivity guided fractionation of the n-butanol fraction, eurycomanone, 13,21-dihydroeurycomanone and 13a(39)-epoxyeurycomanone were found to be 8.7, 6.8 and 4.6 times more potent than chloroquine diphosphate against the chloroquine resistant Plasmodium falciparum, Gombak A, isolate.  However, these quassinoids were not as active as chloroquine diphosphate against the chloroquine sensitive Plasmodium falciparum, D10, isolate.  9-Methoxycanthin-6-one exhibited an IC50 value of 3.76 and 3.64mM against the Gombak A and D10 isolates respectively [40].  15b-O-Acetyl-14-hydroxyklaineanone displayed potent plasmocidal activity (IC50 = 2mg/mL) against the ACC  Niger chloroquine resistant P.falciparum strain [41].

Aphrodisiac properties

Rats fed with the chloroform, methanol, water and butanol E.longifolia extracts exhibited a dose-dependent, recurrent and significant increase in the episodes of penile erection [42]. In addition, none of the treated rats exhibited any homosexual mountings during the 1 hour observation period.  Chronic feeding of the methanol, water and butanol extracts to the male rats exhibited significant frequency and vigorous mounting, licking and anogenital sniffing towards the receptive females.  It also displayed intensified self orientation indicated by the increased grooming of the genitals [43].  The ethanolic extracts of E.longifolia decreased the basal level but increase the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)-induced production of testosterone in the rat Leydig cells [44].

Anti-ulcer activity

Eurycomanone and 13-(b-epoxide)eurycomanone displayed potent in vivo anti-ulcer activity with 80.7 % and 91.8 %, respectively, in the water-immersion stress-induced erosion in rats [45]. 

Antipyretic activity

Eurycomanone, eurycomalactone and 14,15b-dihydroxyklaineanone exhibited significant reduction in the lipopolysaccharide-induced fever in mice after 1 hour of observation [46].

Antitumour promoting and antischistosomal

14,15b-Dihydroxyklaineanone (IC50 = 5mM) exhibited active inhibition of the tumor promoter-induced Epstein-Barr virus activation.  Longilactone gave significant antischistosomal effect at a concentration of 200mg/mL [47].


In an acute mice toxicity study, 50 % ethanolic extract of E.longifolia displayed an LD50 value of 1.89g/kg when administered orally.  Eurycomanone was found to be toxic to mice at an oral LD50 value of 0.05g/kg [11] . 

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No information

Adverse Effects in Human:

No information

Used in Certain Conditions:

No information


Interactions with drugs

Concurrent use of E.longifolia and CYP2D6 substrates may cause increased plasma levels of the substrates thus increased the risk of serious drug adverse events in patients [49].

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No information



No information

Case Reports

No information

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1) Botanical info

2) Cultivation

3) Malaysian Herbal Plants


  1. Thoi LV and Suong NN. Constituents of Eurycoma longifolia. 1970; 35: 1104-109
  2. Itokawa H, Qin XR, Morita H and Takeya K. Novel quassinoids from Eurycoma longifolia. 1993; 41: 403-405
  3. Chan KL, O'Neill MJ, Phillipson JD and Warhurst DC. Plants as sources of antimalarial drugs. 1986; 41: 105-107
  4. Chan KL, Lee SP, Sam TW, Tan SC, Noguchi H and Sankawa U. 13Beta,18-dihydroeurycomanol-A quassinoid from Eurycoma longifolia. 1991; 30: 3138-3141
  5. Chan KL, Lee SP, Sam TW and Han BH. A quassinoid glycoside from the roots of Eurycoma longifolia. 1989; 28: 2857-2859
  6. Morita H, Kishi E, Takeya K, Itokawa H and Iitaka Y. Squalene derivatives from Eurycma longifolia. 1993; 34: 765-771
  7. Morita H, Kishi E, Takeya K and Itokawa H. Biphenylneolignans from wood of Eurycoma longifolia. 1992; 31: 3993-3995
  8. Itokawa H, Kishi E, Morita H and Takeya K. Cytotoxic quassinoids and tirucallane-type triterpenes from the woods of Eurycoma longifolia. 1992; 40: 1053-1055
  9. Mitsunaga K, Koike K, Tanaka T, Ohkawa Y, Kobaysahi Y, Sawaguchi T and Ohmoto T. Canthin-6-one alkaloids from Eurycoma longifolia. 1994; 35: 799-802
  10. Kardono LBS, Angerhofer CK, Tsauri S, Padmawinata K, Pezzuto JM and Kinghorn D. Cytotoxic and antimalarial constituents of the roots of Eurycoma longifolia. 1991; 54: 1360-1367
  11. Chan KL and Choo CY. The toxicity of some quassinoids from Eurycoma longifolia. 2002; 68: 661-662

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