JAMU Spices

JAMU means “healing through herbs, flowers, and roots”

Curcuma or turmeric originates from South Asia and has been used as both a spice and a remedy in India for several thousand years. The yellow root belongs to the ginger family, but does not taste as hot as ginger, but rather mildly spicy and slightly bitter.

The whole root of Curcuma longa has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for a wide variety of ailments. Meanwhile, countless scientific studies have investigated the health benefits of turmeric. The best-researched ingredient is curcumin, which also gives turmeric its bright yellow colour.

The essential oils and phytonutrients make coriander a medicinal plant. American researchers found that coriander contains a substance that has a natural antibiotic effect. The substance called dodecenal, which both dried and fresh coriander contains, proved to be the only naturally occurring antibacterial substance that is two times more effective than the antibiotic gentamicin, which is usually used against f.ex. salmonella. Thanks to its numerous essential oils (linalool, geraniol, borneol, coriandrol), coriander can also relieve cramps, aid digestion and inhibit inflammation. When it comes to detoxification, coriander is one of the secret weapons. Japanese researchers found out, that coriander can even dissolve highly toxic mercury from the body. It also helps to eliminate other heavy metals and toxins as quickly as possible. While Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have long known about the healing power of coriander for digestive complaints, modern science is now also interested in its soothing effect on the gastrointestinal tract. The field of application ranges from loss of appetite and stomach pain to diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome.

Although neither appearance nor taste suggests it, the fact is, that botanically, cardamom belongs to the ginger family. Unlike ginger, however, only the fruit capsules of the perennial reed plant are harvested. Shortly before the small green capsules burst open, they are collected and dried. The time-consuming harvesting by hand is the reason why cardamom is still considered the most expensive spice in the world after vanilla and saffron. Nevertheless, cardamom is a very important spice, especially in Asia.

The essential oils in cardamom not only provide the ravishing taste but also have a healing effect. Even the ancient Romans used it to cure the consequences of their legendary binge eating. It is certain that cardamom has a particularly beneficial effect on a stressed stomach, aids digestion and relieves both flatulence and cold symptoms.

Vanilla belongs to the orchid family and originates from Mexico. In Central and South America, it was used centuries ago to refine bitter cocoa. Vanilla was first brought to Europe by the Spanish conquerors. Among the Totonaks, vanilla was considered an effective aphrodisiac and there might actually be something to this because chemically vanillin is similar to the sex attractant pheromone. The Totona women are even said to have rubbed vanilla on themselves in order to appear more seductive.

Vanilla is not only beneficial for love and lust though. Numerous studies have shown that the substances it contains are especially good for the soul. The scent of vanilla alone has been proven to alleviate stress, restlessness, anxiety, depressive moods, insomnia and, by the way, hunger. The reason is that vanilla stimulates the production of the happiness hormone serotonin in the brain. In naturopathy, vanilla is also considered effective for upset stomach, nausea during pregnancy and coughs. Used externally, for example as an essential oil, vanilla is said to have antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Some naturopaths, therefore, treat skin diseases such as neurodermatitis or eczema with it. Vanilla’s main flavouring vanillin is said to have various positive effects on our body, like mood-lifting and can therefore help with depressive moods or anxiety, which is why many candles, bath additives and body care products are scented with vanilla. Vanilla-scented products are also recommended for those with a sweet tooth, as vanilla is said to curb the desire for sweets.

Chillies are the small fruits of the spice pepper plant. Botanically, they belong to the berry fruits. The chilli comes from Central and South America. We owe its spread to Christopher Columbus, who brought the plant to Europe at the end of the 15th century.

As a medicinal plant, the pod from the nightshade family has been under scientific attention for some years. Especially the “pungent” capsaicin is attributed to numerous positive health effects due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Capsaicin is an alkaloid from the group of capsaicinoids, which is one of the hottest known substances. Ingested via JAMU No3, the active ingredient of the chilli pepper is traditionally recommended for digestive problems, circulatory problems, skin diseases, muscle pain and last but not least, as an aphrodisiac. Research is also looking at the potential of capsaicin for chronic inflammatory diseases (especially arthritis), migraine, bladder weakness, high blood pressure and ulcers. Recent studies now reveal intriguing links between capsaicin and dying cancer cells as well as lowered blood lipid levels. Fresh chillies contain three times as much vitamin C as citrus fruits therefore can be used to strengthen the immune system. It also protects the body against infections, and make you happy! The capsaicin causes a burning sensation in the mouth, to relieve the pain, our body releases adrenaline and endorphins, so eating chilli can lift your mood. The fruit has antibacterial properties. It fights off pathogens such as bacteria or fungi, which improves the conditions for food storage and hygiene. Foods that have chilli added to them last longer. This is sometimes one of the reasons why people often cook and eat spicy food in warm countries and in countries with inadequate hygiene standards. Bacteria already present in the stomach are killed by eating spicy food. In addition, more gastric juice is produced. Foods that are difficult to digest are thus more digestible and broken down more effectively. In addition, acidic digestive juices have an antibacterial effect. They can prevent harmful microorganisms from reaching the intestine. This prevents gastrointestinal infections and diarrhoea. Chillies get the circulation going. The capsaicin stimulates blood circulation and heats up the body from the inside. Helping f.ex. against cold feet. It has a positive effect on colds because the fruit affects the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. This means that the nose is cleared and it is easier to cough up. On top of that chilli is said to help prevent obesity. The capsaicin speeds up the metabolism and reduces the formation of fat cells.

Fennel originates from the Mediterranean region. The ancient cultures of Arabia and China already knew fennel and used it as a remedy. In addition to the seeds that the flower produces, it also grows a tuber that is used as a vegetable in the kitchen and as a natural remedy. The relatives of the tuberous plant include dill, carrots and celery. In terms of taste, the spicy plant is reminiscent of aniseed and can be described as liquorice-like.

Probably the most surprising information beforehand: this healthy vegetable contains twice as much vitamin C as oranges! In fact, 100 grams of the spice come with a whopping 93 milligrams of the vitamin. Those who want to lose weight can also spice up their meals with fennel because with a water content of up to 80%, the plant has just 18 kilocalories per 100 grams. Fennel is particularly rich in beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A in the body. 100 grams of the tuber cover almost our entire daily requirement. Fennel is also an ideal supplier of B vitamins. Besides minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, fennel has antioxidants – so-called radical scavengers that make toxins in the body harmless. The highly effective essential oils: anethole, fenchone and menthol, in fennel seeds have a calming effect on all stomach and intestinal complaints. They can therefore relieve nausea, pain and cramps as well as flatulence, and support digestion. Fennel is also the remedy of choice for women who suffer particularly badly from menstrual cramps, as the same essential oils can relieve abdominal cramps. As a medicinal plant, it not only helps against colds and gastrointestinal complaints, it can also calm the nerves and strengthen the heart. Breastfeeding mothers benefit from fennel in two ways: on the one hand, the tuberous vegetable stimulates milk production, and on the other hand, it helps against three-month colic in babies.

Ginger is thought to originate from the Pacific islands. It is cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, with India producing the most, namely half of the total world harvest. Much of this is used for domestic consumption, while China is the number one ginger-exporting country.

Arab spice traders brought the plant to ancient Rome, from where it finally arrived in the German-speaking world in the 9th century. In the Middle Ages, ginger was already an indispensable part of European cuisine. Because of its pungency, it was served as a substitute for pepper. The German name for the root comes from Middle Indian.

The ginseng root has been one of the most important remedies in traditional Asian medicine for more than 2,000 years. It does not act directly against diseases but is said to mobilise the body’s own self-healing powers. The cultivation of the forest plant requires a lot of patience: ginseng grows in the shade, has to be properly watered and has to ripen for six years until the active substances, the so-called ginsenosides, are present in sufficient concentration.

Ginsenosides are among the healthy secondary plant substances. They are mainly found in small secondary and hair roots. The effective extract is produced from washed and then dried ginseng roots in a gentle artisanal process.

A variety of effects are attributed to the ginseng root. Canadian scientists found that ginseng actually makes colds shorter and milder, and also relieves symptoms of asthma and hay fever. US studies have shown that ginseng can help cancer patients cope better with their therapies. It relieves their leaden tiredness (fatigue syndrome) and stimulates the production of happiness hormones, which increases well-being. Ginsenosides also have antibacterial and antiviral effects, they can significantly alleviate chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, and encourage brain cells to absorb more sugar and thus help people to concentrate better and think more complexly.

Nutmeg comes from the nutmeg tree and, strictly speaking, is not actually a nut at all, but a seed. It originates from the Banda Islands in Indonesia. Nutmeg has been used in traditional Indonesian medicine for many ailments, such as digestive problems, rheumatism, coughs, nervousness, flatulence, as a stimulant, aphrodisiac and tonic. With its many effects on the body, nutmeg is a true miracle cure. However often underestimated, this spice contains a number of valuable vital substances. These include minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc, folic acid as well as vitamins A, C and B complexes. In addition to the healthy substances that supply the body with important nutrients, strengthen the immune system and support many processes in the organism, nutmeg surprises with many other positive side effects. Ayurvedic healing has used nutmeg for centuries as a natural remedy for problems in the gastrointestinal tract. The extracts of nutmeg have been scientifically proven to contain active ingredients that function as antidiarrhoeal (anti-diarrhoeal) medicines. This can also relieve flatulence and pleasantly relax the stomach. Nutmeg is one of the spices that counteract inflammation with anti-inflammatory properties. Science suspects that the natural pigment quercetin is responsible for this special protective function. Nutmeg is also a natural remedy for depressive moods. The spice stimulates certain neurotransmitters, messenger substances that influence the production of happiness hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. This has a mood-lifting effect and can ease depressive feelings.