Feb 02, 2018

Natural Wellness and Care in Hong Kong


What is Jamu?

Jamu can simply be defined as mashing together of natural plants in order to form beverages that help to heal, rejuvenate and maintain the human body. Jamu does not work in an active manner like Western medicine does, but needs to be taken for long durations, a few weeks or even months, for it to show its effect.



The roots of Jamu can be traced back specifically to the land of Java. It is believed that the practice of making Jamu medicine in Java is as old as the Javanese civilization itself. Local Indonesian legend avers that this ancient science of herbal medicine originated in the palaces of Surakarta and Yogyakarta in Central Java.

Jamu was usually practiced by indigenous physicians, and the concoctions are prepared and distributed by women sellers. Prescriptions were seldom noted down on paper and were usually passed on from generation to generation in an oral tradition. The woman in an area who became adept at preparing different Jamu recipes was often consulted by neighbours and relatives. These traditions are largely followed even today, in different regions of Indonesia. 

Indonesia’s medical profession understood the value of its natural apothecary and started taking serious steps to mainstream it as late as in 1940. The Second Congress of the Indonesian Physicians’ Association passed a motion to conduct a detailed study of traditional medicine and its applications; a step that gave Jamu the status of complementary medicine.




Jamu Today

The face of Jamu has definitely evolved with time. Today, it has grown from a tradition followed on a very personal level by the local people to a fast-growing industry.

Today, many traditional Jamu makers have successfully transformed their cottage industries into full-blown modern plants with professional management systems. Thanks to modern innovation, and its acceptance and application into traditional Jamu-making practices, millions of units of these concoctions are distributed around the world, every year.

Indonesia has 1,160 herbal-based businesses, out of which 16 are large-scale companies while 1,144 are small to medium enterprises. The herbal industry itself employs 15 million workers, with three million people in herbal medicine sector, as per Industry Ministry data. Jamu produced and distributed by Indonesia alone contributes US$73.29 million by sales revenue.




Traditional Medicine

According to information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), traditional medicine (TM) makes up as much as 65-80 percent of the world’s healthcare practices, in one way or the other. Traditional medicine today is also referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

The growing popularity of Jamu, and traditional medicine in general, can be attributed to widespread economic crisis and growing political and social disorder. Although these factors seldom directly affect the sales of traditional medicine (apart from the economic crisis that lead to increase in prices of western medicines), they do have an indirect link. Since these factors bring stress into one’s everyday life, people have been growing more interested in alternative medicine that can boost their stamina, reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

Although Western medicine is here to stay, traditional medicine is slowly but surely carving its niche in the world market.




Jahmu Tonics

Jahmu, a Hong Kong company selling Indonesian traditional tonics, was founded by Katharina Bleinis as a result of her encounter with, and her growing curiosity about, local Balinese women selling ‘jamu’ on the streets of Bali.

Having grown up with gymnastics, dance and yoga, Katharina today takes a range of uplifting classes differing in style. After spending over a decade doing yoga in her hometown of Vancouver, she decided to embark on her own personal journey to discover yoga and meditation in Asia. She has over 200 yoga teaching hours in Indonesia to her credit, where she learnt about Jamu, and now resides and teaches yoga in Hong Kong.

Through Jahmu, Katharina has tried to fuse ancient medical techniques with the ultra-modern lifestyle of a metropolitan city-dweller. She is a health drink connoisseur who has successfully fitted age old techniques in handy, grab-and-go bottles. Jahmu Tonics follow the age old principles of jamu, targeting body, health and sickness where care and therapy are kept less separate.



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