"Traditional magical remedy for many diseases" — that's how Indonesians have regarded the herbal cocktail "Jamu" for over 1000 years. Some claim it works as a natural antibiotic and a vitamin boost for the body. Is this drink genuinely beneficial, or is it just a belief? Let's explore its history and some facts.
Traditional herbal therapy originated in Sukoharjo, part of the city of Surakarta on the island of Central Java. Jamu or Empun-Empun is often peddled on the streets and sold inexpensively. Almost every household has a desire to enjoy this beverage. (By the way, President of Indonesia Jokowi hails from Surakarta, a charming town with friendly people). So, what is this miraculous drink that is so beloved in Indonesia, particularly in Malaysia and the island of Bali?
This elixir was crafted a long time ago, existing for around 1300 years, and it is very popular throughout Indonesia. It gained significant attention during the pandemic. While it doesn't cure complex diseases, it effectively supports the body and boosts immunity, aiding in the fight against serious illnesses.
Although there are various versions of jamu today, this beverage often consists of:
- Turmeric root
- Ginger root
- Tamarind (Indonesian: asam)
- Lemongrass stem
- Lemon or lime
There is another variant of the drink called "empon-empon" (Indonesian: empon-empon). Its composition includes turmeric root, ginger, cinnamon stick, temulawak (a type of turmeric), and lemongrass. Some also add Javanese sugar or the local favorite - cabai, spicy pepper. Indonesians can't do without spicy flavors, and it's not surprising considering their innate love for spice.
What are the benefits of the beverage, and is there any harm is consuming it?
In addition to contributing to overall body strengthening and immune system support, jamu is beneficial for inflammatory processes, infectious and cancerous diseases, and more.
Details on each ingredient
1. Turmeric: An antioxidant that slows down aging, improves digestion, and helps reduce the risk of developing cancer cells.
2. Ginger: Known as a natural antibiotic for the body, it helps fight colds and lowers cholesterol levels. It is also beneficial for diabetes.
3. Tamarind (asam): A caloric product containing a range of macro- and micronutrients and vitamins. It improves hormonal balance and has a positive effect on the human reproductive system.
4. Lemon and Honey: Known for their benefits not only in Indonesia. Whether separately or together, they provide a vitamin boost for the body. Lemon boosts immunity, helps with nausea, stomach issues, strengthens the heart muscle, and more.
5. Cinnamon Stick (if added): A treasure trove of vitamins (PP, A, C, B), it improves visual memory, the circulatory system, alleviates nausea, and more.
Each component has its own characteristics, and caution should be exercised when consuming jamu. Individual intolerances to the product may occur, or there may be a doctor's prohibition on consuming one of the ingredients due to a particular illness. Everyone should decide for themselves whether they can enjoy the drink or not. However, it's worth trying it at least once to appreciate the traditional taste.
Even if there are no contraindications, it's essential to remember that moderation is key. Drinking jamu in large quantities, thinking it will improve health, is not advisable. It's beneficial to take breaks.
Where to Buy
In Bali, you can buy jamu practically on every corner: in cafes, street stalls, and even from larger companies selling this wonderful beverage. In Denpasar, there are specialized stores such as Toko Jamu Tradisional, Jamu Herbal, and many others.
If you prefer not to leave your home, a convenient way to purchase fresh ingredients for making it yourself is online through apps like Lazada, Shopee, for example, here. It's important to note that if there's a "super seller" icon, it means the store has a good reputation. Also, look at reviews and ratings from people to ensure the product's quality.
While it's better to visit the market and choose according to your preference, you can also order ready-made jamu through GoFood. Alternatively, on Facebook, there's a group called FOOD BALI where you can order jamu and more.
Making jamu at home is quite simple
Here's a basic recipe in YouTube
- 1 turmeric root
- 1 small ginger root
- 1 lemongrass stalk
- 1-2 pieces of tamarind
- Lemon and honey to taste
- 500 ml water
1. Wash and peel all the ingredients, then blend, chop, or grind them.
2. Boil the water and add the ingredients. Simmer briefly until the water turns orange.
3. Let it cool slightly, then add lemon or lime and honey.
Some believe that turmeric pairs well with black pepper, enhancing its effectiveness. You can add a pinch of pepper for a pleasant spiciness from ginger and pepper, while lemon and honey balance the taste with acidity and sweetness.
In Indonesia, there are indeed many beneficial herbs that have been used for centuries. It's noticeable that many locals look young and are more resilient in their work. Whether it's due to herbal therapy or something else is uncertain, but the facts indicate that Indonesians are a robust people. Many people are unaware of what lies behind the curtain of the beautiful nature in our rich land. Just take a closer look at what grows beneath your feet, around you, and you'll surely be amazed by new discoveries.