Jamu, a Health Drink Rooted in Indigenous Indonesian Traditions

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Jamui or herbal drink of Indonesia. (Image: Kemenparekfraf)

Jamu is a traditional medicine or herbal medicine made from local plant ingredients, leaves, rhizomes (roots), bark, and fruits and so on. But, there are also those who add ingredients from animal body parts such as goat bile, snake bile, or crocodile penis. Sometimes, non-broiler chicken egg yolks are also used to mix fresh herbs.

In general, herbs are consumed by drinking. Over time, the term herbal medicine came to be known as herbs. If it tastes bitter, it needs to be added honey as a sweetener so that the taste is more tolerable to the drinker. Sometimes, there are also people adding with wine which also serves to warm the body.

Apart from being sold at roadside stalls or kiosk and push chart, there is also a profession for women that sells the herbal drink around. Jamu is sold as a healthy and refreshing drink. Doing this will also give special experience to the drinker.

For those who want to be practical, there are also herbs produced in modern factories and follow drug production standards. Finally, the herbal product is sold in the form of sachets, tablets, caplets and capsules.

Favorite herbal drinks

Below are some examples of herbal drinks commonly sold by jamu sellers or street side jamu sellers.

Beras Kencur

Jamu Beras Kencur is one of favorite herbal drinks. This is believed efficacious to help relieve aches and pains that arise after working hard. There is also an opinion stating if this herb can stimulate or increase appetite, so that the body becomes healthier.

As the name suggests, this jamu is made from rice and kencur (aromatic ginger). Other ingredients that are usually mixed are tree bean, ginger, cardamom, kawak acid, Chinese keys, turmeric, lime, nutmeg and, of course, rice. For sweeteners, white sugar and granulated sugar are usually used. This herbal drink is believed to help lower cholesterol and anti-inflammation.


Turmeric is efficacious to help overcome pain and serves as anti-inflammatory (inflammation). There is a study stating that the curcumin content in turmeric can relieve pain in arthritis better. In addition to anti-inflammatory drugs, turmeric is also believed to reduce menstrual pain, high blood pressure to lose weight.

Turmeric is usually mixed with other ingredients to make kunir asem. The main ingredients used consist of tamarind plus turmeric. Sometimes, there are those who also mix it with young tamarind leaves, Java ginger, tree bean and lemon juice. So, if you need sweetener, this herb is then added with palm sugar mixed with white sugar and a little salt.


Piper is one of the spices frequently used as a spice in traditional dishes. In relation to herbal medicine, piper is used as a medicine to help overcome fatigue and stiffness, prevent colds, increase energy, reduce flatulence, overcome beriberi, rheumatism, low blood pressure, cholera, influenza, headaches, and some others.

It is said that piper ingredient has a high content of iron and other nutrients and can be used to help the body produce more red blood cells and prevent anemia.

Java ginger

Java ginger or temulawak is one of the native Indonesian spices and has been used for centuries as a treatment for various health problems. This ingredient is believed to help relieve nausea, dizziness, cold symptoms, and increase children’s appetite.

The making of java ginger herbal medicine is usually from a mixture of ginger rhizome plus aromatic ginger, seedless tamarind, palm sugar, cumin and fresh pandan leaves.

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