Can Sabah Snake Grass cure cancer?
The New Paper
By Zaihan Mohamed Yusof
SINGAPORE - Its leaves look like shoots of wild grass and its stem appears plastic-like.
Nothing about this fruitless plant stands out. And it's not surprising if most people mistake it for something worthless.
Yet this unassuming plant - called the Sabah Snake Grass, or Clinacanthus nutans - is highly prized in Singapore.
Sabah Snake Grass - named for its initial use in treating snake bites - is worth its weight in gold because its claim to be a cure for cancer.
Despite these claims, which come amid anecdotes of its curative properties, there has not been any scientific proof that the herb has any actual effect on cancer.
One nursery owner in Pasir Ris in particular has watched with amazement as demand for the plant has slithered upwards in just four years.
Mr Alan Loh, 67, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "More than five years ago, nobody asked for it."
Only a small group of people with kidney problems bought the Sabah Snake Grass initially from Mr Loh.
He says: "At its peak two years ago, the demand grew from almost zero to about 10 customers each day asking or wanting to buy the plant from me. I often ran out of stock."
Mr Loh said the popularity of the herb can be traced back to the story of a Malaysian's miraculous recovery from Stage 4 thyroid cancer.