'Back to nature' is not merely a
slogan in Java and Indonesia. The visible proof is the
use of traditional herbal medicine of various type of
'medical plants', either from the leaves, the fruits,
the roots, the flowers or the barks, etc.
These herbal medicine had been used since the
ancient time up to now, it is largely consumed by
people of different level; lower, middle and upper, in
the villages and in the big cities.
The study of jamu had been conducted by Rumphius, a
botanist as early as the year 1775 AD by publishing a
book 'Herbaria Amboinesis'. A scientific research for
jamu by the research center of herbal medicine in
Bogor Botanical Garden, resulting a publication of a
book 'Medical Book for Children and Adults', composed
by E. Van Bent.
The first seminar about jamu has been held in Solo
in 1940, followed by a Formation of Indonesia's Jamu
Committee in 1944. In the 1966, a seminar on jamu was
held again. In 1981, a book by title of 'The use of
Medical Plants' was established to support the jamu
industry in the country.
The method of using the jamu remains the same as
the ancestors did. Some are consumed by drinking it
and some are for outside application.
At present one could buy easily ready made jamu
packed modernly in the form of powder, pills,
capsules, drinking liquid and ointments. Of course
there are still jamu shops, which sell only
ingredients or prepare the jamu on spot as required by
buyers. Some women are roaming the street to sell
jamu, is a common view across the country.
The traditional methods of making jamu such as by
boiling the prepared herbal ingredients (jamu godok)
still prevail in Javanese society. The popular
traditional tools of making jamu are still available
in many Javanese houses such as; Lumpang (small iron
Mortar), pipisan, parut (grater), kuali (clay pot),
What kind of disease could jamu cure?
The reply is almost every disease, jamu could cure.
There are various kinds of jamu to combat different
kind of illness. In Principle there are two types of
jamu; the first is jamu to maintain physical fitness
and health, the locally popular are Galian Singset (to
keep women body fit and slim) and Sehat Lelaki (to
keep men body healthy). The second is jamu to cure
various kinds of illness. Except the above, there are
special jamu created with the purpose to maintain a
loving family harmony. The popular products among
other are Sari Rapet, which makes a women sexual organ
in a good condition, as for the man the matched
product is jamu Kuat Lekaki (strong man). The Javanese
are also taking a great care to pregnant women during
pre and postnatal period by producing the related
jamu. There are also jamu for the babies.
The Herbs for Jamu
There are hundreds of herbs for jamu prescriptions,
among other are:
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
Lempuyang (Zingiber Oronaticum)
Temu Lawak/ Wild Ginger (Curcuma Cautkeridza)
Kunyit/ Tumeric (Curcuma Domestica)
Kencur/ Greater Galingale (Kaemferi Galanga)
Lengkuas/ Ginger Plant (Elpina Galanga)
Bengle (Zingiber Bevifalium)
Secang (Caesalpinia Sappan Hinn)
Sambang Dara (Rexco Ecaria Bicolar Hassk)
Brotowali (Tiospora Rumpii Boerl)
Adas (Foeniculum Vulgare Mill)
Jeruk Nipis/ Calamondin (Citrae Aurantifalia
Ceplukan (Physalic Angulata Him)
Nyamplung (Calophylum Inaphyllu)
Kayu Manis/ Cinamon (Gijeyzahyza Glabra)
Melati/ Yasmin (Jataninum Sunbac Ait)
Rumput Alang-alang (Gramineae)
It is worth to note that some jamu factories in
Java are exporting its products. Besides the export of
ready made jamu, 25 kinds of herbal plants and
ingredients are also in the list of export to Europe,
Australia, USA, Japan, etc.
No Side Effects
The people like to consume jamu due to:
Availability in many places
Comparatively cheap price
No side effects
The Natural Beauty of Woman
A Javanese woman is very much concern for her
physical appearance to be always slim, beautiful with
an alluring bright smiling face.
As a Javanese idiom says "Ngadi Sarira"
to maintain the body to be always in perfect condition
is of prime important. The way of life of a Javanese
is greatly influenced by the royal culture. Not
surprisingly that the art of "Keeping Beauty' is
originated from the court palaces.
The Secret of a Princess Beauty
The Ladies of the Royal Families have a reputation
to inherit the beauty of goddesses from paradise.
As told in the story of wayang (leather puppet) by
the dalang (puppet master) , all parts of a princess
body is always perfect and alluring: the beautiful
black thick hair, a smooth skin, bright eyes, charming
eye brows, eye lids and nose, bright reddish lips,
white nicely teeth, wonderful built neck and shoulder,
beautiful hands and arms, a waist like the one of a
bee meanings slim and perfectly built.
The dalang with a clear deep voice, like in the
poem reading adores the beauty of a princess with a
thousands of words. It seems that all words of a
complete dictionary are not enough to express of what
a wonderful beauty a princess has.
The use of Traditional Jamu and Cosmetics
Nowadays, some secrets of this Karaton (Palaces)
culture of "Ngadi Sarira" are known by many
women from outside the Karaton walls. The Jamu is
widely used to give an inner beauty, due to a good
Some of the products are consumed directly by
eating it, for instance Kepel Fruit (a brown fruit of
a chicken egg size), it's a natural deodorant. By
eating it that would fragrant the odor of the body
even the urine smells the fragrance of that fruit.
Jambu Mawar ( a kind of rose apple, mawar means a
flower of rose) gives a fresh smell of breath. Some
cosmetics are for outside application such as bedak
dingin (cool powder) and lulur (scrubbing powder).
Every woman is always proud of her hair - thick and
shining, color and style. For natural shampooing, the
ash of rice stalks work as a shampoo to clean the
hair. After being washed by water, ingredients consist
coconut milk, jeruk purut (a kind of citrus fruit
smells like a lime ) and pandanus leaves are to be
applied. It functions as a conditioner to clean the
dandruff. The hair then washed by water again, to be
dried while vaporizing with ratus fragrance.
Finally, a hair oil by the name of cemceman, made
of coconut oil with pandanus , kenanga flower, jeruk
purut etc. is applied.
For face caring, bedak dingin (cool
powder) is applied. It's made from tendered rice with
special ingredients, such as pandanus, kenanga flower
For other parts of the body, lulur is applied,
popularly known as mandi lulur (lulur bathing).
Lulur is also made from tendered rice, pandanus,
some leaves of kemuning (with yellow color) and some
medicinal roots. The lulur should stimulate the body
to throw out the dead cells, replace it with new ones,
stimulate blood circulation under the skin, smooth the
skin and at the same time scents it.
Steaming the body
Steams of several boiled herbs are applied to
ensure body freshness, including the woman organ. The
steaming took about a 1/2 hour.
Besides the traditional cosmetics made by hand, in
the country there are some big and well known
manufactures of cosmetics, using modern machinery.
These products are used widely across the country,
even this cosmetics have been exported to many
countries of the world.
(Suryo S. Negoro)