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The Principles of Jamu Healing


Indonesians who believe in God and His power truly understand the tradition of jamu in people’s life. It is believed that God created human beings and all the necessary things for them to continue and prolong life. This includes the nature that provides herbs and other plants to maintain health and cure illness, beside the human sense, instinct and intelligence to make use of this wonderful gift of God. It is also strongly believed that in this every life everything is created in pairs; there are man and woman, night and day, darkness and light, sorrow and happiness, poison and antidote as well as sickness and cure. In fact, God sent down a treatment for every disease, as stated by The Qur’an. Any incurable disease at this time lays on the incapability of the human being to use its intelligence to find the proper remedy in nature.

The Principles of Harmony

Jamu healing is the concept of harmony, which is the balance between the patient and his or her environment, the balance between positive and negative power, hot and cold elements in the body. Hence, illness and medicines are divided in hot and cold categories. Hot illnesses are cured with cold herbal remedies and vice versa, cold diseases are cured with the hot herbal remedies. Jamu recipes follow this rule of harmony, and are prepared as cold or hot jamu’s, bitter and sweet, sour and tasteless or strong and weak. In developing a recipe, the treatment of a disease in one organ always considers the effect of treatment to other organs in the body. This is known as the holistic approach, not partial, where a treatment of a specific organ or system should not impair other organs which may worsen the condition.

The Principles of Jamu combining

The ingredients of jamu, meaning the leaves, flowers, barks, roots, seeds or even the whole plants, are grouped into three categories; the main ingredients, the supporting and those that simply improve the taste and smell. The combination of these three categories should interact and work together on the addressed symptom or illness. A jamu recipe is meant to exert four of the following basic functions:

  1. To treat a particular disease or problem, like asthma, high blood pressure, cancer and so on.
  2. To maintain good health through the endorsement of blood circulation and metabolism.
  3. To relieve pain and aches by reducing inflammation and helping digestive problems.
  4. To restore malfunction in the body, like infertility, insufficient lactation, impotence, unpleasant body odor etc.

A jamu recipe may be multifunctional, or a combination of 2 or more of the above functions. For example, a general tonic jamu may also be an appetite stimulant to increase body weight.

Jamu is never an overnight remedy. In fact it should be taken on a regular basis over a period of time. Due to this gradual cure a patient seldom develop any side effects. It is understood that this gradual cure of jamu follows the law of nature where everything goes accordingly to a process of time in order to keep its harmony.

Some ingredients, in spite of their useful therapeutic effects, have toxic properties that should be taken into account in prescribing a recipe. It lies on the sound knowledge of the herbalist or jamu maker to neutralize these poisonous ingredients with other herbs to produce a powerful and effective jamu.

Plant characteristics

An interesting principle is that a cure for a specific disease and its corresponding plant or herbal remedy is following the popular doctrine of signature or similarity. Meaning to say that the shape, color or texture of a plant or a part of it indicates what illness it can cure. For example, hair-like plants are suppose to cure hair problems, flowers with eyes cures vision problems, heart-shaped leaves is the cure for heart diseases, and many more to mention.

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