The Ancient Magic of Djamu

A toast—and a boost—to your health!

 

Soaking up the ubiquitous Bali sunshine is one way to take your vitamins (specifically, immune-boosting Vitamin D), but there’s another way to improve your health while on the Island of the Gods: the ancient herbal tonic, djamu. While it’s widely used by locals to cure all types of ailments, little is known about this powerful concoction elsewhere in the world apart from its main ingredient, turmeric. Read on to learn its history, and try one of several recipes on the Beach Club menu to taste the magic for yourself.

 

Djamu is believed to date back as early as the fifth century and its existence can be traced to an ancient almanac that mentions the use of herbs as a healing power. An inscription at Candi Borobudur, Java’s UNESCO-protected temple built in the eighth century, depicts the use of mortar and pestle in a relief showing medicinal healing and massage.

Potato Head | Jamu, A Healthy Drink Beloved by the Island of the Gods | Balance Workshop #001 at Katamama Hotel, Bali
Potato Head | Jamu, A Healthy Drink Beloved by the Island of the Gods | Balance Workshop #001 at Katamama Hotel, Bali
Potato Head | Jamu, A Healthy Drink Beloved by the Island of the Gods | Balance Workshop #001 at Katamama Hotel, Bali

The name originates from two ancient Javanese words—djampi and oesodo—which were used by nobles and high priests in the formal Krama Inggil language. Djampi means healing, which involved the combination of a herbal tincture with mantra and prayer, while the word Oesodo means health. In the Krama Madya language spoken by commoners during those times, the word djamu came to mean healer, shaman or medicine man.

 

By the 17th century, there were more than 1,500 different potions recorded in the Kartasura Kingdom’s almanac. Recipes, such as those found on usada lontar (a book of medicinal practices inscribed on palm leaves) have been passed down from generation to generation as as holistic remedies that stand the test of time.

Learn how to make your own djamu by joining our Balance Workshop #001 at Katamama