Why sugar-free and herbal is the new black

The history and science of JAMU

Herbal medicines have provided people with safe, effective, and low-cost health care for centuries. Most popular examples are of course Ayurveda and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), but Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Native American, Africans, Aborigines, and Maori all contributed to what we now know about herbs, roots and spices. While originally, the medicinal properties of those were learned empirically and passed on from one generation to another, modern scientific research has validated many of their traditional uses. In fact 25% of modern medicines are made from plants first used by local healers!

Why, with access to western medicine and health care increasing globally, it’s the alternative medicine and supplements that experience revival? Use of those has boosted tremendously over the past three decades due to a growing common awareness of herbal remedies and a large amount of research conducted on the subject, which accelerates the growth of trust in natural products. Availability and competitive pricing is another valuable factor, while the growing social conscience, environmental awareness and wide access to information help speed up the game. This trend has been quickly picked by the beverage industry and resulted in a wide range of healthy drinks, based on natural ingredients. They come in a variety of flavours and recipes, therefore, before buying it’s really important to know the compounds and their influence on our body. With all that in mind, let’s focus on jamu, its origins, active ingredients and reasons why it’s becoming a big player on the health scene in the Western World.

JAMU Organic Spices drinks are based on traditional, known for centuries recipes and they contain no added sugar. Understanding the history of our products, reasons, why particular ingredients were originally combined, and how they affect us is really crucial to us, and we love to share this knowledge with you. Producing sugar-free drinks is a conscious choice and a result of our constant strive to better our products, for the benefit of our customers. We strongly believe, that skillfully designed recipe doesn’t require sugar enhancement of the flavour to be purely and naturally delicious! In JAMU Organic Spices we create not only drinks but a healthy and mindful lifestyle: starting from sustainable farming of our organic ingredients and knowledge about their healing properties to the use of recyclable glass bottles.

What is JAMU?

In a narrow definition it’s the Indonesian traditional herbal medicine, practised to maintain good health, boost natural beauty and to treat diseases. It’s made from natural materials, such as roots, bark, flowers, seeds, leaves and fruits, occasionally with an addition of honey, royal jelly, milk and ayam kampung eggs (free-range & organic). Jamu is believed to originate from two ancient Javanese words, Djampi which means healing and Oesodo which means health. It is primarily served in a form of non-saturated drinks, some of which are sugar-free, and some with an addition of coconut sugar or honey to mask the intense herbal flavours for those, who don’t appreciate it so much, like for example children.

However it is predominantly referred to as herbal medicine, jamu can be much more complex than that. In a wider meaning it’s a holistic healing therapy that’s based on the theory that if our ailments come from nature, then so too, must their cure. The alternative jamu practice, can involve physical exams, behavioural observation, massages, acupuncture and even communication with ancestors, in order to treat the mind and body holistically, very much like the TCM & Ayurveda.

How old is the practice?

Jamu is claimed to be originated thirteen centuries ago, by the royalty of the Mataram Kingdom in Indonesia, who asked their healers to create recipes & practice not only for medicinal purposes but also for ritual beauty treatments. Currently, even with the growing availability of western medicine, the Indonesian government still recognizes Jamu as a medicinal practice with its own set of FDA regulations, and in 2019, it has been officially recognized as one of Indonesia’s intangible cultural heritage by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

What makes it so special?

Though jamu practice is considered to be influenced by Ayurveda from India, Indonesia has numerous indigenous plants not found in India. In fact, next to the Amazon rain forests, the Indonesian archipelago has the second biggest biodiversity in the world, with a particularly high number of medicinal plants. As a result, most of Indonesian people especially in rural areas use traditional herbal medicines at least supplementary and preventively.

Original, created by the healers’ recipes were held as family secrets passed down for generations, and heavily guarded. In the 1940s, due to insistence from the government and the medical community, healers exposed the recipes for scientific study. (Not) surprisingly the traditional herbal mixtures were often found to be more effective than their western equivalents.

In the holistic approach of jamu practice, similarly to the Ayurveda (where crucial is balancing the Three Principle Energies of the Body: vata, pitta and kapha) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s crucial to treat body and mind and the inner and outer beauty synergistically. The same herbs, fruits and flowers that contain healing properties are still used to create both luxurious & homemade beauty treatments.

Easiest example? However it may be a relatively new skin treatment in the Western world, curcuma has been used for centuries in Asia as a health treatment for a number of skin and body issues. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, it can not only heal wounds but prevent breakouts, fight eczema and psoriasis, reduce acne scarring, brighten dark circles, bring out your natural glow!

Where to find jamu?

Currently, jamu drinks can be found all throughout Indonesia, from local farmer’s markets to luxurious retreats, co-working spaces, yoga shalas, and even beach bars, however local women carrying the traditional bamboo baskets, filled with bottles on their backs or in mobile stalls, still deliver their freshly made tinctures to the loyal clients every day, just like it’s been done for centuries. In large cities, jamu is also sold on the street by stall keepers.

What are the most common ingredients of jamu?

Jamu can contain up to 213 medical plants, and the base ingredients are curcuma and ginger, which are found in most jamus. These two well-known adaptogens work magic boosting our immune system, have powerful antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties, and support the neuroactivity of our brains. The list of different inflictions Jamu can treat is almost endless, but these ingredients are often included to treat most mainstream ailments:

Tamarind – a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, also working as a gentle laxative, supporting digestion. It’s used to treat skin diseases, ulcers, rheumatism and constipation.

KangKung or water spinach – a vegetable that grows in tropical regions and is a great source of Vitamin A, C and carotenoids – possessing strong antioxidant properties and helpful with insomnia, headaches, gum problems, skin problems and cold sweats.

Galangal – a super-herb, often referred to as a cross between ginger and curcuma. It’s rich in fibre, iron, sodium, Vitamin A & C, lowers cholesterol levels and can even help fight cancer, treating indigestion, stomach-ache and low sex drive.

Sulfur – naturally found in our bodies, making up vital amino acids that create cells, tissues, hormones, enzymes and antibodies. It treats rashes, allergic reactions, skin irritations and itches.

Lemongrass – possessing anti-bacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and used to help with gum problems, to repel mosquitos and increase mental alertness.

Occasionally brown sugar, rock sugar, and lime juice are used to enhance a fresh and sweet taste.

Certain types of herbal medicine can treat certain diseases based on beliefs and empirical experiences, proven since ancient times. F.ex. mixing ginger, tamarind, palm sugar, pandan leaves and cumin, both for children and the elderly can cure dizziness, nausea, and relieve symptoms of colds. Jamu Cabai Lempuyang can overcome fatigue and stiffness, prevent colds, increase energy, reduce flatulence, etc., Jamu Kunyit Asam – the most popular type of jamu, helps lower blood pressure, menstrual pain in women, boosts immunity and helps digestion. Jamu Beras Kencur is used to eliminate stiffness in the body, helps avoid the aches and pains that are a result of working too hard, and stimulate the appetite.

JAMU Wellness Drinks – healthy lifestyle in a bottle.

JAMU Organic Spices Wellness Drinks were created with the idea of combining the ancient wisdom of the original recipes with the current scientific knowledge, based on solid research. Our 3 JAMU Wellness recipes are designed from the only natural, known for their healing properties ingredients, contain no-added-sugar nor artificial colour and flavour enhancers. Just like in the traditional herbal drinks, they all base on powerful superfood roots: curcuma and ginger. Besides the common factor – powerful immunity boost, each one of our 3 drinks is meant to cater to slightly different priorities and health and wellness routines of our clients.  JAMU No1, thanks to fennel seeds, cinnamon, aloe-vera & aronia juice, acts as a beauty elixir. JAMU No2, with coriander, ginseng, and lemon oil aims to bring peace and harmony into your life. JAMU No3, provides passion and naturally energises – guarana, hibiscus, cardamom, chilli, and nutmeg in it speed up the blood flow and wake you up with no need for caffeine. JAMU No3 is our ‘Ayurveda Drink’, inspired by the Indian Kamasutra. This mixture is well known for its aphrodisiac properties. All our drinks are completely sugar-free, vegan, alcohol-free and organically certified.

By drinking JAMU, you consciously choose yourself –  healthy drinks without sugar are absolutely amazing for your body and mind. So-called lifestyle drinks are our speciality. Click below and test the effects of JAMU.