Unravelling the Wonders of Traditional Medicine

A Malaysia-China joint research team explores on new medicinal uses of Malaysian traditional herbs Eurycoma longifolia, also known as Tongkat Ali.

Eurycoma longifolia is recognized for its medicinal benefits. Source : Mokkie via Wikimediacommons

Eurycoma longifolia is recognized for its medicinal benefits.
Source : Mokkie via Wikimediacommons

Eurycoma longifolia, or popularly known as Tongkat Ali is recognized for its medicinal benefits and has a long history of traditional use. The root is used as a traditional remedy for various ailments such as high blood pressure, fatigue, fever, malaria and even loss of sexual desire. The plant is native to lower Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia and is amongst the most sought after medicinal herb.

The medicinal value of the plant has brought Prof Sun Zai Ming, and Prof. Tian Jing Kui from China’s Zhejiang University (ZU) to the University of Malaya to join forces with Prof. Rais Mustafa and his team to perform research on new medicinal uses of Malaysian traditional herbs and to develop products which can be marketed. For a start, the new medicinal uses of Tongkat Ali to combat obesity and diabetes will be explored in this collaboration.

[pullquote]The root is used as a traditional remedy for various ailments such as high blood pressure, fatigue, fever, malaria and even loss of sexual desire.[/pullquote]

In this tripartite collaboration anchored by the Pharmacology Department in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Malaya, Malaysia’s Hai-O Enterprise Berhad, and the Research Lab of Biomedical Informatics Engineering & Drug Discovery of Zhejiang University, the latter will isolate the active compounds in Tongkat Ali while bioassays will be carried out in the University of Malaya. Both universities will then develop medicinal products prototype based on the results. Hai-O, an established household name in healthcare products will then contribute in the development of medicinal products prototype together with both universities and play a leading role in product production as well as marketing. 

The Zhejiang State Government has expressed its full support in this exciting collaboration and is willing to fund the initial phase together with Zhejiang University while the University of Malaya will fund the mid phase project expenditure and Hai-O, the final stage as well as the marketing expenditure.

A Memorandum of Agreement will be signed in May during the upcoming Traditional Medicine Symposium organized by Zhejiang University and the Zhejiang State government under the One Belt One Route Program and there is much anticipation that the wonders of Tongkat Ali will benefit many beyond the shores of Malaysia from this exciting joint venture.