Labisia pumila

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Labisia pumila
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Primulaceae
Genus: Labisia
Species: L. pumila
Binomial name
Labisia pumila
Benth. & Hook. f.

Labisia pumila (kacip Fatimah, /ˈkɑːɪpfɑːtɪmɑː/) is a flowering plant in the Primulaceae family native to Malaysia.[1] It is a small, woody and leafy plant with leaves of 20 cm (7.9 in) in length, and grows widely in the shade of the tropical forest floor. The plant is used in traditional medicine of the Malay community, in which it's believed to contain benefits relating to women's health.


Labisia is a herbaceous plant that grows in low clusters, with solitary or rarely branching stems and fine, hairy roots. The leaves are oblong-shaped, hairy on its underside and can grow to 20–40 cm (7.9–15.7 in) in length. The inflorescence are brown and 5–6 cm (2.0–2.4 in) long.[2] The plant thrives under the shade, away from direct sunlight, and grows well in moist or loamy soil.[1] It propagates by its rhizomes, leaves and/or seeds, and when cultivated is harvested about a year after planting.[1] The plant is indigenous to Malaysia, but also found in Sumatera, Java and Borneo.[2] Three varieties of Labisia have been described: var. Alata, var. Lanceolata dan var Pumila.[3]

The popular name for the plant is kacip fatimah ("Fatimah's betel cutter"; compare to tongkat ali, i.e. Ali's walking stick). Other common names of the plant include "Selusoh Fatimah", "pokok pinggang", "rumput palis", "tadah matahari", "mata pelanduk rimba", "bunga belungkas hutan", "remoyan batu" and Sangkoh.[3]


Labisia is used in the food, beverage, and traditional medicine of the region that is its native habitat, and in the Malay community is considered beneficial to women specifically. In such cases, the entire plant is boiled, and the water extract is consumed as a drink or used as a herbal bath.[4][5] The traditional uses of the plant include easing of childbirth, as a post-partum medication to contract the birth channel, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and alleviation of menstrual symptoms.[4][6] While Labisia has a reputation in the Malay community to be the herb for women, its counterpart for men is the Tongkat Ali.

The plant's extract has also been commercially formulated for consumption in capsule and tablet form,[3] as well as an ingredient in energy drinks.[7] In Malaysia, Labisia was highlighted in 2010 as one of five local herbs to developed commercially on a large scale via the Economic Transformation Programme.[8][9]


There has been some scientific research investigating potential health benefits of Labisia. From various in vitro studies, the plant's extract has been reported to display estrogenic activity,[10] immunomodulation activity,[11] and antioxidant activity.[12]

Chemical constituents[edit]

Despite its long history of traditional use, the active components and mode of action have not been well studied, though some preliminary research has been published.[13][14][15] It has been reported that Labisia contains two novel benzoquinoid compounds,[16] as well as gallic acid, caffeic acid, rutin, and myricetin.[14] One study claims that the leaves contain significantly higher level of saponins compared to its stems and roots.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Wan Hassan, W.E. (2006). Healing herbs of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA). p. 112. 
  2. ^ a b Joseph Samy; M. Sugumaran; K.L.W. Lee (2005). K.M. Wong, ed. Labisia pumila, in Herbs of Malaysia. Times Edition. p. 135. 
  3. ^ a b c Noor'ain bt. Shamsuddin (2014-01-20). "Kacip Fatimah". MyHealth portal by the Malaysian Ministry of Health. Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Kacip Fatimah (Labisia Pumila)". Jefferson Griuen. 2008. Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  5. ^ Kuah Guan Oo. "Khasiat Kacip Fatimah bukan mitos, kata penyelidik UPM". Universiti Putra Malaysia. Retrieved 2014-09-26. Dalam amalan perubatan tradisional, daun Kacip Fatimah direbus bersama dengan ramuan herba lain dan campurannya diminum atau digunakan untuk mandi. (Translation: "In the practices of traditional medicine, the leaves of Kacip Fatimah are boiled in water with other herbs, and the liquid is consumed or used for bathing.") 
  6. ^ Jamia Azdina Jamal; et al. (2004). "Perkembangan Penyelidikan and Perkembangan Kacip Fatimah (translation: Advancements in Research and Development of Kacip Fatimah)". New Dimensions in Complementary Health. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia: 13–19. 
  7. ^ Azman, Sulhi (2017-08-02). "Power Root boosts stake in UAE unit". Retrieved 2017-08-04. 
  8. ^ "EPP 1 High-Value Herbal Products". Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU). Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  9. ^ Prime Minister's Department, Malaysia (2017). Malaysia Productivity Blueprint: Driving Productivity of the Nation. Economic Planning Unit. p. 4-32. ISBN 978-967-5842-10-8. 
  10. ^ MF Wan Ezumi; et al. (2007). "Evaluation of the female reproductive toxicity of aqueous extract of Labisia pumila var. alata in rats.". Indian Journal of Pharmacology (39(1)): 30–32. 
  11. ^ Pandey, A.; et al. (2008). "Effect of Aqueos Extract of Labisia pumila on immune profile of pregnant rats". Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants (9): 360–5. 
  12. ^ Choi, H.K.; et al. (2010). "Labisia pumila extract protects skin cells from photoaging caused by UVB irradiation.". J Biosci Bioeng (109(3)): 291–6. 
  13. ^ Singh GD, Ganjoo M, Youssouf MS, Koul A, Sharma R, Singh S, Sangwan PL, Koul S, Ahamad DB, Johri RK (2009). "Sub-acute toxicity evaluation of an aqueous extract of Labisia pumila, a Malaysian herb". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 47 (10): 2661–2665. PMID 19654032. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.07.031. 
  14. ^ a b c Karimi E, Jaafar HZ, Ahmad S (2011). "Phytochemical analysis and antimicrobial activities of methanolic extracts of leaf, stem and root from different varieties of Labisa pumila Benth". Molecules. 16 (6): 4438–4450. PMID 21623314. doi:10.3390/molecules16064438. 
  15. ^ Ali Z, Khan IA (2011). "Alkyl phenols and saponins from the roots of Labisia pumila (Kacip Fatimah)". Phytochemistry. 72 (16): 2075–2080. PMID 21784496. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2011.06.014. 
  16. ^ Houghton, P.J.; J.A. Jamal; Milligan S. (1999). "Studies on Labisia pumila herb and its commercial products". J Pharma Pharmacol (51): 236.