"A local provider is selling Tongkat Ali of LJ100, a Malaysian herb. Some kidney transplant patients have expressed interest in using this herb to enhance sexual performance as well as a muscle builder.
I question the use of this in an immunosuppressed individual, but I can find no real scientific information. I know that St. John Wort, for instance, can cause renal rejection. Do you have any experience with this substance?"
You are right in questioning the use of Tongkat Ali in an immunosuppressed individual. But let me first give a brief background on Tongkat Ali for our readers who don't know what it is.
Tongkat Ali is a Malaysian herb that was called the "Asian Viagra" in a May 1999 report in the New Sunday Times. It's been used in Malaysia for many years by men to increase sexual desire, libido, sexual performance and to treat erectile dysfunction.
Tongkat Ali appears to increase testosterone levels. A study published in the November 15, 2004 issue of the Journal of Immunology found that increased testosterone impedes the immune system.
Specifically, testosterone slows or weakens the response of T-lymphocytes, white blood cells that are instrumental in defending the body against infections and tumor cells.
After a kidney transplant, there is a risk that the body will identify the new kidney as foreign and try to reject it. Very powerful drugs, called immunosuppressants, are given to try to prevent organ rejection.
If these people, who are already immunosuppressed, experience a further weakening of the immune system after taking Tongkat Ali, their risk of developing serious infections such as pneumonia or even cancer may be even greater.
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