All-natural skincare cream rooted in Khmer tradition

One Cambodian woman is processing curcuma raktakanta root as a medicine for health and skin care in Sala Kanseng village of Siem Reap.

Kim Sarom

Kim Sarom

The Phnom Penh Post


Industry minister Cham Prasidh visits a fair where Ponlei Thamacheat products are displayed in February. PONLEI THAMACHEAT

March 9, 2023

PHNOM PENH – Cambodian people traditionally use curcuma raktakanta root to treat sprains and swelling or for steaming.

One Cambodian woman is now processing the root as a medicine for health and skin care in Svay Dangkum commune’s Sala Kanseng village of Siem Reap town and province.

“I like to process this plant because I personally use it. My parents didn’t have money for my studying, but I am very lucky that an organisation helped me to learn plant processing skills for free,” said Chhe Kanha, owner of Ponlei Thamacheat handicraft.

Kanha told The Post that she lived in Phnom Krom village of Siem Reap commune and town. During her pregnancy with her first child, the midwife took the curcuma raktakanta root and mixed it with rice wine to apply on her skin to prevent stretch marks and she said it worked.

She said that since then she has noticed that the traditional use of curcuma raktakanta root by Cambodian women was really beneficial to the body, including skin health.

“At first, I processed the curcuma raktakanta root as a family scale business, but we made it with proper packaging. If we produce it locally, we don’t use chemical substances but there is only importing products from abroad,” she said.

According to Kanha, she started to create her small scale business in 2017. She was then given the opportunity to train free of charge in processing plants through a USAID sponsored programme.

Curcuma raktakanta powder produced by Ponlei Thamacheat handicraft. PONLEI THAMACHEAT

She stated that in 2022, US ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy visited her workshop. Murphy praised her for her resourcefulness and entrepreneurial spirit.

“My intention is to support low-educated women and create jobs for farmers so that they can continue to grow this plant, otherwise it will become extinct. My products have gained many supporters,” she said.

On March 6, an organization invited Chhe Kanha to the US for a short period of time to learn more about the business of processing plants.

Taing Chiv Heang, sales representative of Ponlei Thamacheat, told The Post that they have processed 18 kinds of products from raw materials such as cold coconut oil, ginger powder, finger root powder, curcuma raktakanta root powder, turmeric powder, alum, coconut cream, steamed herbs and even coffee.

Most customers are Cambodians from the capital and all 24 provinces, though most of the buyers are in Phnom Penh, she said.

“Customers have confidence in our products because our production is standardized, the products are inspected by the relevant ministries and we are testing them before putting them on sale,” she said.

She said that they have 11 employees, all women and USAID provided a machine to clean dirt from roots and scrape them.

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