All You Need to Know About Jamu, Indonesian Herbal Beverages

jamu ilustrassion

Jamu is a very valuable beverage that has traditionally been made since the ancestral era. This drink has played an important role in maintaining the health and fitness of the people. Jamu is used as an herbal drink to maintain health and cure various diseases. It’s estimated that this tradition existed since 1300 AD.

There are many types of Jamu. Considering that Indonesia has quite a lot of herbal plants. Each region has a different type of herbal medicine. Thus, the variant of jamu is based on the types of herbal plants that grow in the area.

The word Jamu comes from the ancient Javanese language, namely jampi or usodo. It has the meaning of healing using medicinal herbs or prayers. The term jampi is often found in ancient manuscripts. Such as the Gatotkacasraya manuscript written by Mpu Panuluh from the Kingdom of Kediri during the reign of King Jayabaya.

Making jamu is a simple process. Most of them only take the juice from the herbal plant’s extraction. There is also Jamu made by pounding the plants. Mostly, Jamu is made from turmeric, temulawak, galangal, ginger, kencur, and cinnamon. Java sugar, rock sugar, and lime are usually used to add fresh and sweet aftertaste.

Uniquely, while making Jamu, you have to pay attention to the dose of each ingredient, temperature, duration of mashing or boiling, any similar process. If not, you will lose the efficacy of the ingredients. Also, there is even a possibility that it could harm your body.

There are several form variants of Jamu. Those are capsules, tablets, sachets, to traditional ones such as ‘ Jamu Gendong’. The last variant is still popular now.

The tradition of drinking Jamu has its ups and downs according to its era. Broadly speaking, it is divided from pre-historic times when forest product processing flourished, the Japanese colonial era, the early days of Indonesian independence, to the present.

Indonesian people have already drink Jamu since the Mataram Kingdom era. During that time, women have played more roles in producing herbs. While men have played a role in searching for natural herbal plants.

In ancient times, it was believed that the secret of health and supernatural powers of warriors and high-ranking royals came from training and the help of Jamu.

Along with its evolvement, the tradition of drinking Jamu has decreased. Precisely, when the first time modern science entered Indonesia. There was hesitation regarding the matter of standards or certification. Moreover, the efficacy of herbal medicine is questioned.

During the Japanese colonial period, around the 1940s, the tradition of drinking Jamu became popular again because the Indonesian Jamu Committee was formed. Then, from 1974 to 1990 many herbal medicine companies were established and growing. In that era, there was also a lot of guidance and assistance from the government so that the Jamu industry players could increase their production activities.

From the first time the Indonesians used Jamu as a health drink until now, the processing of Jamu is based on the knowledge that is taught from generation to generation. However, nowadays, the tradition of teaching herbal medicine is rarely passed down. Practically, people tend to buy it in an instant form.

Source:, ditsmp.kemdikbud