Kacip fatima, the female member of the Tongkat ali plant family, has been used for generations as an herbal remedy in Malaysia. Smoked, drank in a tea, or swallowed in a pill, the chopped leaves of this plant are primarily taken before and after menopause or childbirth for optimum health. Though as of 2011 science has yet to prove any direct link between this herb and any health benefits, it is also said to increase libido in women as well as promote vitality, a light complexion, and maybe even an easier transition to the post-menopausal years.
According to Drug Information Online, kacip fatima is often given to women leading up to and through the onset of menopause. It is also reported to help ease childbirth as well as post-pardum pain and depression. Medical professionals do, however, urge caution when a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, since clinical studies are lacking. These and the many other claims of kacip fatima's uses have not been proven unequivocally by science as of 2011, but many Malaysians and herbologists swear by it as complementary medicine.
Growing under forest canopy throughout Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, kacip fatima can grow as tall as 1 foot (about 40 cm) or more. Its long, finger-width leaves are green on the top and a fainter green on the bottom, often with purple-hued touches. The leaves, along with its pink or white flowers and tiny purple fruit, all are harvested for this herb's use as a nutritional supplement.
Aside from the aforementioned conditions, herbologists and tea vendors make several more claims about kacip fatima's alleged benefits. It is purported to relax the mind and improve energy. Several gastrointestinal problems also could improve with this herb: diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and excessive flatulence.
As far as the active ingredients of this homeopathic remedy, the components stack up in favor of at least some efficacy. In addition to high levels of several beneficial antioxidants and flavanoids, the leaves, roots and stems contain potentially valuable compounds called alkylresorcinols and triterpenoids. Both of these are suspected of stimulating immune response, fighting cancerous cells, and improving blood flow.
Numerous products in and from the Malaysian market advertise kacip fatima as a vital ingredient. These drinks often also promise added energy and/or sex drive, but the herb is often included in concert with other stimulating teas. The Malaysian government states that the claims of those selling kacip fatima cannot be regulated because it is considered a food product and not a medicine. Nevertheless, some have risen the flag of warning that, if effective, the herb could easily be used as a date rape drug, since the tea made from its leaves is mild and tastes very much like more common green teas. Others argue that the herb has not shown a propensity for being that effective as a libido enhancer.