Selasa, 21 Februari 2012

Jamu Gendong 3 - Ancient herbal from Indonesia

The Ancient Herbal Jamu From Indonesia

The first time I ever tried Jamu was at Candika's office on Jalan Poncowinatan in Yogyakarta, Java. I had seen the Jamu sellers, or jamu gendong, carrying the putrid looking contents in bottles on their backs in a basket, on my numerous travels in Java.

Most of the people working for Candika drank it every morning as did she and, although offered to me many times, my stomach declined. Eventually I gave into my 'sense of adventure' and actually tasted the concoction. I was surprised it tasted so, how can I put it, deliciously different!. And, did I feel better after drinking it?. Not at first but after a few weeks drinking it every day I felt bloody fantastic!.

Jamu is the ancient Indonesian art of herbal healing. As old as the Javanese culture itself, most Indonesians believe the herbal medicine (jamu) originated from Central Java and indeed from the ancient palaces of Yogyakarta and that of Surakarta (Solo). Numerous other cultural affects from different countries has influenced is reflected in the medicines - these countries being India, China and Arabia.

It wasn't until I started looking into this in-depth did I actually realise how involved the complex of making Jamu is. Here is a site that will give you a brief outline on Jamu.

It truly is a fascinating subject. I can well remember walking into the apotik's in Yogyakarta and seeing the various packets for sale produced by Jamu companies with all sorts of promises to cure all diseases and ailments. Jamu is big business in Java, but for me, the Jamu Gendong is the way to go for the real McCoy.
"The real McCoy" is an idiom and metaphor used in much of the English-speaking world to mean "the real thing" or "the genuine article", e.g., "he's the real McCoy". It is a corruption of the Scots "The real MacKay", first recorded in 1856 as: "A drappie o’ the real MacKay," (A drop of the real MacKay), and this is widely accepted as the origin.

How it came to be "McCoy" is unclear – it is believed that the first recording with this spelling occurred in Canada in 1881. In James S. Bond's The Rise and Fall of the "Union club": or, Boy life in Canada, a character utters, "By jingo! yes; so it will be. It's the 'real McCoy,' as Jim Hicks says."
The phrase has been the subject of numerous fanciful folk etymologies ever since.

Indonesians Want to Sell Their Jamu Herbal Medicines to World, Promising Better Health and Vitality
Associated Press Writer
(AP) YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia

Ibu Sapti rises early to begin an ancient ritual that is reproduced daily all over Indonesia _ using a mortar and pestle she pounds, grinds and mixes roots, herbs and spices to produce secret elixirs believed to cure illness, maintain youth and vigor, and enhance beauty.

She pours the mixtures into glass bottles and packs them in a large wicker basket strapped to her back with a sarong. Then she sets off to sell her wares along the narrow streets that crisscross this ancient court city.

Sapti is one of a legion of vendors who distribute herbal cures, known as jamu, to millions of devoted clients. Many Indonesians will not start their day without a good-health drink.

"All concoctions are simple, practical, exotic and rarely expensive," wrote Susan-Jane Beers, author of "Jamu, the Ancient Indonesian Art of Herbal Healing," the first comprehensive English-language guide.

"Herbal preparations and massage continue to thrive because Indonesians know they work," the preface explains.

Manufacturers claim the thick and bitter potions, often containing ingredients harvested from rain forests, can both prevent and cure a plethora of illnesses.

With many of Indonesia's poor unable to afford Western medicine, the jamu industry has developed into a multibillion dollar business. Factories produce millions of ready mixed sachets to meet steady demand from around the archipelago, and now manufacturers are hoping to capitalize on the renewed interest and acceptance of herbal medicine worldwide to open global markets for jamu.

The treatments date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Practitioners trace jamu's origins to elements of Chinese, Indian and Arab classical medicine.

Most Indonesians believe that their herbal recipes can be traced to the ancient royal families of Solo and Yogyakarta in Central Java, where elaborate health and beauty treatments were a part of court life.

These medicines were not commercially available until the 1930s when the secret recipes began to leak out from the courts.

Mooryati Soedibyo, a descendent of the Yogyakarta court in central Java, started her own jamu company, Mustika Ratu, in 1970.

She learned the court's philosophy of health and beauty when her grandfather, Sultan Pakubuwono XI, ruled in the 1920s. The palace kitchen was her favorite playground.

"Our lives revolved around jamu," she said. "We would prepare, drink and talk about jamu from morning to night. It was an obsession."

Soedibyo remembers an army of servants grinding the ingredients into bitter brews. Court herbalists showed her complex recipes from some 400 different plants, sweetened with cinnamon, fennel, mint and palm sugar.

The elaborate treatments included massage as well as lotions and potions to keep women healthy and youthful, give them glowing skin and hair, and retain their slim figures.

Nowadays, homemade jamu is becoming less common, but the commercial herbal medicine and cosmetics industry has greatly expanded. This thriving business is one of the few in Indonesia's recession-ridden economy that survived the 1997 Asian financial crisis unscathed.

Martha Tilaar, founder of Indonesia's largest herbal products conglomerate, has set up a modern pharmacological research division to develop products for cosmetics and health supplements which she also hopes to market abroad.

The Indonesian Department of Health insures that jamu is safe and says modern research has proven the ancient claims about its efficacy.

Typical ingredients for common recipes include varieties of ginger; spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, cumin and cloves; certain chilies; and fruits like papaya and banana.

The most popular treatments are for mundane complaints like fatigue, muscle and joint pain, infertility, high cholesterol, skin problems, and indigestion.

Unsurprisingly, some of the hottest sellers claim to improve sexual performance. One popular elixir for male virility claims to "stimulate sexual function, enhance zest, desire and energy, and prolong youthful function."

The women's equivalent promises to "increase desire and harmony between husband and wife."

There are also tonics for firming and slimming the body, powders and potions for improving the appearance and quality of the skin and reducing wrinkles, and treatments which promise to prevent graying or thinning of the hair.

A widely practiced regime for women who have just given birth combines massage, body wraps and tonics to help them regain their figures and eliminate stretch marks.

Jamu is not as widely known as Chinese medicine, but Soedibyo says it shares the same ancient heritage and has the potential to become a commercial rival.

"Our country may be a mess, but we have a certain wisdom to teach and sell to the outside world," she said. 

On the Net:

Martha Tilaar Group:
Mustika Ratu:

>>> Daftar Jamu Godog Kendhil Kencana

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