'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), etc.
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 Sivingle)
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 physical health.
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 of
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 etc.
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 ½ 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.