Jamu wellness culture


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Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Dwi Ranny Pertiwi Zarman, Indonesia, 2022

Jamu is a form of herbal medicine and treatment that has been practised in Indonesia since the eighth century. It is based on the belief of curing hot diseases with medicines of a cold nature, and cold diseases with medicines of a hot nature, with a healthy condition being a balance between hot and cold elements in the body. The colours and shapes of plants are also associated with the colours and shapes of the organs whose health they promote. Jamu aims to increase immunity and maintain health. Bearers and practitioners include Jamu makers and the people who make, distribute, cultivate and consume the ingredients. People of all ages take Jamu medicine, and though anyone can make Jamu, most Jamu makers are adult women. The medicine is prepared using herbs and spices often planted by Jamu makers themselves, who then concoct recipes tailored to each customer’s age, lifestyle, and health concerns. The practice is transmitted informally, typically within families and among neighbours, although some practitioners are self-taught. Jamu is also taught in universities. It is associated with respect for confidentiality and trust, and its practice is viewed as a means of strengthening social ties.