Thailand's Health Ministry has selected a controversial herb as one of four herbs being promoted as Thai traditional medicine, reports the Straits Times.
Kwao kreu has caused controversy since the frenzy it sparked some years ago among women hoping to enlarge their breasts. It is also sought by men for its supposed ability to boost sexual potency.
The herb, which is a rare underground root, has been linked to claims that it causes cancer as well as other side-effects, and its popularity has considerably decreased in recent years.
The pueraria mirifica herb has been researched extensively by the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine, an affiliate of the Health Ministry.
The institute reports that the herb does have the capacity to firm up and enlarge breasts but it should be consumed moderately as research was inconclusive as to whether it was a cancer agent.
Researcher Pataraporn Tangsukluethai, who works at the Institute, said: "It has been proven that kwao kreu can also improve complexion, keep the hair dark, and act as a supplement for women undergoing menopause."
The herb apparently replaces the loss of oestrogen in women between the ages of 45 and 50 and helps them to cope with hormonal changes.
But she added: "Like all drugs, it may have hidden effects which can cause breast and prostate cancer."
Despite the mixed assessment, several pharmaceutical companies have gone ahead to market the herbal product. Thai firm Tri Siam Herbal is selling the herb in the form of capsules as well as cream.
The firm recommends its products to 'aged men and women to grow hair, strengthen and darken existing ones, help improve complexion and remove wrinkles, improve eyesight, increase energy and vigour'.