Dina Indrasafitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 09/15/2010 9:05 AM
The Health Ministry is preparing to officially recognize jamu, traditional Indonesian medicine, with a nationwide research project and special facilities for the centuries-old remedies.
|Temulawak - Govt to make|
‘temulawak’ ‘jamu’ an
icon of Indonesia
Agus Purwadianto, the head of the ministry’s research and development division, said the government was preparing up to 100 doctors to conduct research on jamu in relation to certain diseases, as a path-opener toward a future healthcare system in which jamu plays a much greater role than it does today.
“The focus will include diabetes, gout disease and cholesterol,” Agus told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Tubers and herbs that would be under the microscope this year and next, would include curcuma and Phyllanthus Urinaria Linn, known locally as meniran.
The former is known to boost stamina while the latter is known to improve the immune system, Agus said.
He added that the designated doctors would be selected for their experience in working with traditional or natural remedies. “They will gather data on the efficacy of these ingredients,” Agus said.
Agus said in the past the medical profession in Indonesia had often doubted the healing properties
“The problem all this time has been that doctors and existing regulations have not given jamu what it needs to develop properly.
“Since doctors do not receive specific training [on jamu], they are skeptical of its healing properties, and often decide that it cannot be included in the scientific world. This is what we are trying to remedy,” he said.
Indonesian Doctors Association chairman Prijo Sidipratomo said some doctors underestimated the powers of jamu.
“In the beginning it was like that. What we are trying to get [doctors] to realize is that we have plenty of plants we have been using for centuries that apparently do not cause any harm.
“We shouldn’t let them be researched and claimed by outsiders,” he said.
However, Prijo stressed that the promotion of jamu should focus only on its benefits as preventative, and not curative, at least for now.
“That would require more research,” he said when asked about jamu’s curative abilities.
Prijo said the council’s role in the jamu research project had so far been to establish a special division for traditional medicine, and to gather doctors who had been practicing with traditional cures.
This project would mark the first of its kind on a national scale, because thus far such projects have only involved groups of university-based scientists who researched a local jamu factory, Agus said.
He said the research had previously been conducted in methods that tried to copy that of mainstream, or chemically made medicine. “The methodologies of modern medicine were forced upon it, when it actually has its own traits and methods,” he said.
In the long term, doctors involved in the project will try to cultivate a new, more holistic system that incorporates jamu in its work, Agus said.
Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said earlier this year that the domestic market for jamu was worth US$500 million.
Indonesian Herbal Medicine Association chairman Charles Saerang said in January that the industry’s sales production was targeted to reach Rp 10 trillion ($1.1 billion) this year.