Jamu: Indonesia’s Counterpart To Chinese Alternative Medicine

What is Jamu?

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Asia is popular for the many strategies it has introduced in the field of natural healing, the Chinese being the most renowned for their discoveries of acupuncture, herbal medicines, and massage, among others. However, less known to the world, even to fellow Asians, is an alternative healing technique originating from Indonesia. It is referred to as Jamu.

“Have you ever felt a greater sense of well-being while in nature? Does being in nature somehow relativize your problems, making them seem less worrisome and less pressing?Whether it is what you see or hear, or what you touch, taste, or smell, the next time you’re feeling unsettled, uncomfortable, or ill, you might want to get outdoors and experience nature’s healing qualities. They might help you change the story of your health.” – Carl Greer, PsyD

Jamu is a traditional Indonesian art of healing which entails the use of herbal medicine consisting of dried fruits, roots, barks, flowers, seeds, and leaves. These herbs are often combined with animal-derived products like honey, milk and royal jelly. It is most prevalent in Java, and in the olden days, Javanese women would just carry bottles of Jamu in baskets as they walk the streets into the villages. Now, motorcycle riders sell Jamu all over Indonesia.

Packaged dried Jamu is also available in the local drug stores and they are packed in small plastic bags and all you need is a cup of hot water to reap its benefits. Today, the market for Jamu has grown to millions of dollars.



What are the Kinds of Jamu juices and their Benefits?

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Jamu is a holistic approach that believes in the principle of nature being the cure to a disease because the cause of the disease is nature itself. That is why all materials are raw and natural. Jamu can be mixed differently for different purposes. Let us look at some of the most popular Jamu concoctions and how they benefit our mind, body, and spirit.


  1. Jamu Sinom. It is like a turmeric mix drink but the main ingredient is tamarind leaves which are harvested while they are young. These leaves are combined with turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown or granulated sugar to ease gastric inflammation and vaginal discharges and also to help individuals who have lack of appetite.


  1. Jamu Chili Lempuyang. An herbal concoction made from two native Indonesian chili peppers, the Jamu chili lempuyang is best taken for individuals who are fatigued or those who suffer from constant flatulence. It also helps prevent colds.


  1. Jamu Kudu Laos. This drink is popular among the older generations to decrease blood pressure and normalize blood circulation. Galangal kudu is a strong herb that is also believed to rejuvenate and relax the body and free itself from the daily anxieties and stresses.


  1. This is a mixture of ginger, tamarind, pandanus leaves, cumin and palm sugar. Parents and children can drink this kind of Jamu juice and it is indicated for colds, nausea and dizziness.


  1. Jamu rice kencur. A rather different blend because it is a combination of herbs and a specific Indonesian rice variety, this drink is very effective in soothing the muscles and getting rid of body aches and pains. Most people drink Jamu rice kencur right after a day’s work.



Jamu is a Healthy Alternative

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Natives and tourists from Indonesia tell of their stories about the benefits that they have gotten out of drinking Jamu. They claim that Jamu is, like Chinese herbal medicine, is equally a healthy and natural alternative to western medicine. There have been several reports of its wonders in healing depression, anxiety, and even cancer.

“Do you ever feel like you need to unplug for a while so that you can reconnect to the living world? Do you ever wonder if your mental health has anything to do with your degree of direct contact with the natural world? (SPOILER ALERT: IT SURE DOES!) Using mindfulness, body-centered psychotherapy, and nature-based practices, I help my clients relieve their stress and find inner stability, joyfulness, and a sense of belonging and connection to themselves, others, and the natural world.” – Rob Shapera, LMFT

You can always see for yourself. All you need to have at home are the two most essential herbs that are mainly used in making Jamu – ginger and turmeric. Give it a try and experience what Jamu is all about.