Looking at Herbal Medicine and Traditional Healers
Herbal Medicine is a very popular product in Indonesia in the form of Jamu, its local name. That is nothing new. It has been in use for centuries right across Indonesia, including Java and the other islands. Now it is available in modern forms.
Jamu can be found in the dried form in small packets or conveniently packaged in capsules. The recipes mostly conform to the traditional cures.
Jamu sellers can be seen carrying large bottles in a lenth of batik on their shoulders. These women sell fresh jamu door to door and can be seen every day calling on their regular customers and dealing out a glass of whatever is needed.
The well developed traditional system of plant medicine is being studied more especially as people realise that modern pharmaceutical companies base their products on the same things.
The information is becoming more accessible through printed books and pamplets although not a lot of it is in English.
The age old treatments are in constant use in every day life in Bali, some of them for minor complaints and some for life threatening diseases.
Traditional Healers often use special gemstones with magical powers to channel healing for their patients or may provide them with a guardian stone or amulet.
You can even buy Goddess and Spirit Jewelry direct from Ubud, Bali at:
You will also see babies wearing a clove of garlic or red shallot tied to their bodies or even boreh paste (see below).
Older women often like to use Boreh, a balinese name for mashed up plant mixtures that are smeared on their legs or whatever part of the body they like.
Ground pepper mixtures are a favourite for increasing circulation and 'heat' to aleviate tiredness.
Tumeric or kunyit is often an ingredient of mixtures to be drunk and that can help with digestive upsets and blood cleansing.
For people on low incomes, these are the standard and often only treatments available to them.
For others with better financial means, their first option is often to seek help from medically trained doctors but if they are not responding quickly to the treatment, to go then to a traditional healer.
Doctors, even though trained in western medicine, expect that the patients will use traditional balians or healers as well, and of course herbal medicine. In fact they may prescribe them alongside the modern chemical treatments.