Due to the ridiculous amount of times I get sick in a year – from the common cold to the occasional acid reflux – I took a vow last year to stop my dependency on consuming modern medicine. Although, I may still struggle in committing to the idea wholeheartedly, especially if the urgency of sickness requires me to bed rest in a hospital, I have instead sought better possibilities of living a healthier lifestyle.


This includes exercising regularly, consuming more greens and fruits in my diet, and following up on an alternative form of medicine when my body requires a quick tweak. Some may call it new age, or some sort hippie-organic movement nowadays, but in fact Indonesia has for centuries carried the abundant resources taken from leaves, roots, and fruits to form our traditional herbal medicine. We call this Jamu. Last Saturday, I took a chance to learn a thing or two on what constitutes a single cup of Jamu.

This event was hosted by the company Nyonya Meener, established by a woman of the same name, who in the early 1900s started making her own mix of herbal medicine for her sick husband, not long before her peers starting requesting to have some for their own sickness. Today, Nyonya Meener is a household name known for generations for their traditional mix to revive the body.


Below are the ingredients that can be mixed in a cup of Jamu:

Temulawak (Javanese Ginger) | Health Benefit: Improves better digestion, neutralizes toxins, dissolves muscle joint pains, and lowers cholesterol levels.

Kunyit (Turmeric) | Health Benefit: Great to reduce problems of the stomach as acid reflux or digestion issues, also beneficial to improve the skin’s condition either to make it smoother or get rid of allergies.

Jahe (Ginger) | Health Benefit: Leaving a soothing and strong aftertaste, Ginger is good for things related with the common cold and feverish conditions as nausea, headaches, or stomachaches. Ginger keeps the body warm.

Daun Jeruk (Orange Leaves) | Health Benefit: The leaves of the orange fruit also contains vitamin C which becomes a natural antioxidant and can improve the immune system. Great for coughs.


Daun Pandan (Pandan Leaves) | Health Benefit: Used as a treatment for the body and hair. When consumed the leaves creates the sweetness towards the Jamu made. Benefits include making the hair darker or good for muscle aches.

Kayumanis (Cinammon) | Health Benefit: An additional spice added to drinks or food, Cinnamon reduces inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.

Ketumbar (Corriander) | Health Benefit: These leaves has health benefits which is good for anemia, improves the menstruation cycle, and can also help with diarrhea.

Adas (Fennel) | Health Benefit: Taken from a plant, Adas has an oil which is best used to cure the common cold and also helps in improving sleeping problems.

Secang (Sappanwood) | Health Benefit: A natural and reddish dye, Secang is good for digestion and for better bloodflow.

Polo (Dried Nutmeg) | Health Benefit: Polo helps cure insomnia and helps when one has headaches.

Cabe Jawa (Javanese Chili) | Health Benefit: This rough and dried chili is perfect to deal with feel in of weakness, digestion problems, fever, or acting as an ovary cleanser after one has given birth.


Based on the instructor who taught us that day, we can experiment and choose five kinds of ingredients from the choices above andmash them all together with a pestle and mortar to infuse and release the aroma of each roots or leaves before finally boiling it for a few minutes and pouring it with a filter.

– Athina Ibrahim
Photography by Athina Ibrahim


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