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Jamu: The Ancient Practice of Indonesian Aromatherapy

Jamu: The Ancient Practice of Indonesian Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. It is also sometimes referred to as essential oil therapy and has been around for centuries. It continues to have an important role in Indonesian and Balinese culture to this day.

What Is Jamu?

Indonesia is home to many different herbal medicines, and has a long history of traditional health and beauty treatments that are based on only botanical ingredients. Jamu refers to this system of inner and outer beauty. Beauty products and more are combined with ancient health rituals. Many Westerners even believe that Jamu is the secret of Indonesian beauty.

To understand Jamu, you need to learn the benefits of all the different herbal ingredients that are used, including ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass – to name a few.

Below, we will take a closer look at a few of the unique essential oils that the Indonesian practice of aromatherapy uses that Western practitioners may not be as familiar with. These oils include cajeput, patchouli, and cananga.

Cajeput Essential Oil

Indonesia happens to be one of the world’s leading and largest producers of cajeput oil. With steam distillation, the oil is taken from the leaves of the Myrtaceous tree. It is mainly used in massage oils but has medicinal healing qualities as well, including helping relieve stomachaches, the common cold, and insect bites.

Cajeput is not a very well-known oil but is closely related to the very popular oil – tea tree. They both have a strong smell and are pale yellow or light green in color. Cajeput oil, however, is uplifting and can be seen as invigorating.

Cajeput was commonly known as white tea tree oil and was used for its pain-relieving properties. In Asia, it is also a common ingredient used in medicines, soaps, and detergents. It is full of antioxidants to promote skin health and can also help fight infection.

In traditional medicine, cajeput oil has been used to treat sore throats and prevent infections due to its antibacterial properties.

Patchouli Essential Oil

This is an essential oil that actually gets better as it ages. Patchouli comes from a bushy herb that is part of the mint family. Its scent is earthy and rich. It is often used with notes of citrus and ginger. Most commonly used for tranquility and serenity, it is often used in aromatherapy for meditation because it can be diffused.

Back in the 1800s, the scent of Patchouli was benchmarked as the determinant for the authenticity of silk and other Eastern fabrics. It was also used to help protect the fabrics from insects. It was used in Asian folk medicine to treat dandruff and oily scalps as well as other skin conditions, including acne and eczema. It is packed full of therapeutic advantages when used in cosmetics, for aromatherapy, as well as in cleaning products.

Since this essential oil ages well, it is often used in perfumes or aromatherapy and has a calming scent to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. All of these healing benefits are attributed to its many healing properties – anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, antidepressant, and aphrodisiac qualities.

Cananga Essential Oil

With its floral and tropical scent, cananga essential oil has properties that can soothe both the body and mind. It also contains antiseptic properties and is often used as a more natural remedy for skin problems. It is very similar to ylang-ylang and can help reduce stress while promoting calmness.

It is pale yellow in color and has a very thin consistency. Its scent is floral, sweet, and slightly woody. It can be used for oily skin, oily hair, insect bites, high blood pressure, anxiety, nervous tension, and stress.

In aromatherapy, cananga essential oil is used as an antidepressant and sedative.

Jamu for Well-Being

Indonesia places value on soothing rituals for the skin. Beauty is not just something on the outside; it also includes a balanced mind and peace. Beauty rituals should be relaxing, so treatments often begin with a massage. Then you will find body scrubs or wraps, a warm milk bath, and other treatments with ingredients that promote skin health.

Western and Herbal Medicine Fusion

When you use western medicine with traditional herbal medicine, you will find more in the way of encouragement. Health and healing are the focus of Jamu. With it we see the many benefits of aromatherapy using these regional essential oils while learning to understand the significance of herbal healing.

Health and wellness are more than just a personal affair. It is more of a cultural and community practice, so when we learn how to use these essential oils, we need to spread awareness of what they can accomplish.

A Long-Standing History

Indonesia is definitely a country that maintains a long tradition of herbal medicine. Those who practice Jamu offer advice and educate people on the powerful essential oils used in aromatherapy. Jamu is an integral part of everyday culture. 80 percent of the population in Indonesia still relies on the effectiveness of Jamu.

Benefits of Herbal Healing

With herbal medicine, you may find that it is much more affordable than conventional medicine and is much easier to obtain than prescription medicine. It offers an natural treatment for a variety of conditions, both mental and physical, and has fewer side effects than conventional medicine or treatments.

Understanding herbal medicine and culture allows us to gain more of an understanding of well-being and the promotion of more natural means of healing. It helps us find a more natural balance for the state of our body, promote both inner and outer beauty, and well-being.


96 thoughts on “Jamu: The Ancient Practice of Indonesian Aromatherapy”

  • Jazz Fulcher
    by Jazz Fulcher

    I’d never heard of this before it sounds delightful

  • Cleveland White
    by Cleveland White

    very insightful!

  • Naomi Eteuati
    by Naomi Eteuati

    Oooh cool!

  • Naomi Eteuati
    by Naomi Eteuati

    I actually think so many people need to know about herbal and natural healings etc! It’s special stuff😍

  • Heather D
    by Heather D

    The Cajeput essential oil sounds very helpful as I love the properties of tea tree oil.

  • Tamra Phelps
    by Tamra Phelps

    I hadn't heard of Jamu. It does sound interesting. I'm always willing to try alternative well-being styles.

  • Karen R
    by Karen R

    I need Patchouli essential oil for stress and anxiety for this time of year especially.

  • Eva Mack
    by Eva Mack

    stood the test of time

    • Anastasia
      by Anastasia

      Very interesting

  • kk cantone
    by kk cantone

    Sounds amazing!

  • Alex Montana
    by Alex Montana

    I am just getting acquainted with the different oils. Would like to learn more and this is a good start.

  • Joy Marish
    by Joy Marish

    Just becoming aware of the different oils.

  • Anne S
    by Anne S

    I never knew about Jamu but learned lots! Thank you for that. I think we all can truly benefit for long traditions in the east like Jamu and I was really intrigued by how popular it is over there.

  • Veronica Lee
    by Veronica Lee

    I've heard of Jamu but have never practiced it. I would love to try it.



  • Delilah Martin
    by Delilah Martin

    I would love to try this!

  • Debra Rimmer
    by Debra Rimmer


  • Andi Durgin
    by Andi Durgin

    I'd never heard of this before. It's so interesting!

  • Mark Kraus
    by Mark Kraus


  • Ellie
    by Ellie

    A very interesting article! I'll learn more about Jamu later

  • Sevinj Ismayilova
    by Sevinj Ismayilova

    I love natural skin care products. I will definitely try!

  • cassandra
    by cassandra

    I should really incorporate patchouli essential oil into my routine! Thanks for the info!

  • Gemma Massey
    by Gemma Massey

    Patchouli essential oil for stress and anxiety sounds great for me

  • milagros
    by milagros

    Loved the article. Really informative

  • Jessica Walker
    by Jessica Walker

    I forsure would prefer trying natural methods of healing before any medicine whenever possible

  • claire woods
    by claire woods

    This is really interesting.

  • felicity Williams
    by felicity Williams

    Very interesting x

  • christine burd
    by christine burd

    herbal medicine is an interesting subject to explore


    I am curious to try some of these essential oils. Some I haven't yet tried.

  • maria cristina
    by maria cristina


  • Molli Taylor
    by Molli Taylor

    people really underestimate the power of smell but i think it's important!

  • Ronald Gagnon
    by Ronald Gagnon

    Very interesting, enlightening and useful

  • Paul Chambers
    by Paul Chambers


  • Alys James
    by Alys James

    This was very interesting!

  • shiva
    by shiva

    Sounds good

  • AuntySuzany
    by AuntySuzany

    I’ve never heard of that before, interesting.

  • Donna
    by Donna

    I hadn't heard of these essential oils before. This sounds very interesting!

  • Victoria Easton
    by Victoria Easton

    This is interesting, not something that I had really considered before. I will probably do some more reading

  • Nigel Soper
    by Nigel Soper

    I think westerners forget the power and effectiveness of aromatherapy which has been used for thousands of years

  • Elizabeth Morgan
    by Elizabeth Morgan

    Looove Patchouli!!!

  • Cynthia Egersdorfer
    by Cynthia Egersdorfer

    Essential oils help in so many ways - thank you for this information!

  • James Allen
    by James Allen

    Very Interesting!

  • Sarah L
    by Sarah L

    Very interesting article. I knew of two of the oils but have never heard of Cananga.

  • desiree
    by desiree

    i now i could use this i have medical issue and super dry and then it would be able to get the things i have wrong will be able to better use it

  • Julian L.
    by Julian L.

    Wow, so much to learn from this site, I'd come to know new things!

  • Eric Guitard
    by Eric Guitard

    I didn't know there were so many different aromatherapy options!

  • Ron Weinberg
    by Ron Weinberg


  • David
    by David

    sounds wonderful

  • Amber Go.
    by Amber Go.

    I loved reading the history of these oils. It is very interesting. They have a wondering history.

  • Donna Clifford
    by Donna Clifford

    it's amazing that using essential oils is such an ancient practice. I'm not to fond of Patchouli-I think it's one of the only essential oils I dont care for very much.

  • Lindsey Roberts
    by Lindsey Roberts

    I absolutely love the fact of how many choices there are for aromatherapy and the natural elements of them all!!

  • Kimberly B.
    by Kimberly B.

    Interesting read, great information. I'm learning a lot from these articles.

  • William
    by William

    So awesome

  • Sophie Marie Cartwright
    by Sophie Marie Cartwright

    Great blog! Love the natural elements & benefits to mind and soul x

  • Abdu
    by Abdu

    It is not just about going natural, it is about how to do it right!

  • Jay M
    by Jay M

    Very cool and informative

  • jason jennings
    by jason jennings

    nice info

  • Emily Marker
    by Emily Marker

    Aromatherapy is so underrated!

  • Leanne Pearson
    by Leanne Pearson

    I obsessed with essential oils at the moment!! I have just spent a month in India and they believe that certain spices have great healing powers, it's interesting to learn all about them

  • paula cheadle
    by paula cheadle

    never heard of this before

  • paula cheadle
    by paula cheadle

    never heard of this before, very good

  • Susan Smith
    by Susan Smith

    I hadn't heard of these essential oils before. It's interesting.

  • Sharif Shaikh
    by Sharif Shaikh

    Was informative

  • James Travis
    by James Travis

    Never heard of this before, very interesting

  • Antoinette M
    by Antoinette M

    Very interesting, especially reading about the Cananga Essential Oil .

  • Lyndsey Rullman
    by Lyndsey Rullman

    I love essential oils. I would love to try this brand.

  • Cathy Smallwood
    by Cathy Smallwood

    I can imagine how good these smell!!!!!

  • McKnight
    by McKnight

    Now I know how to spell Patchouli.

  • Joshua N
    by Joshua N

    New to herbal healing. Very insightful article.

  • Christal Brancato
    by Christal Brancato

    Love aromatherapy

  • Gerardo Velasco
    by Gerardo Velasco

    My skin feels like it is in heaven!

  • Java
    by Java

    Really never heard of Jamu before, thanks for providing information. I need to try this out!

  • sandra
    by sandra

    i do not believe in the health benefits of aromatherpay, but i do enjoy the fragrances

  • David Heath
    by David Heath

    I would love this!

  • Anita Kennett
    by Anita Kennett

    This sounds wonderful,Thanks for Sharing

  • Tiffany Brown
    by Tiffany Brown

    I've never tried aromatherapy unless you count using lavender lotion? I do have some issues that are bothersome. I would much rather use a natural product though.

  • Amber Reser
    by Amber Reser

    Nature is so mind blowing! Thank you for the great read!

  • Jamie L Grimes
    by Jamie L Grimes

    I have never heard of this butdo believe in the power of essential oils.

  • Shannon D Citrino
    by Shannon D Citrino

    I live aromatherapy

  • laurie
    by laurie

    this sounds like a great thing to try and use I use to take a lot of vitamins and they help me alot

  • Andrea DiMario
    by Andrea DiMario

    Very interesting. You learn something new every day lol plus I love aromatherapy.

  • Marissa Buffett
    by Marissa Buffett

    if this is the secret behind indonesian beauty, i definitely need to try it!

  • Driq
    by Driq

    Great article!!!

  • Betty Curran
    by Betty Curran

    I love using essential oils but had never heard of Jamu. Very interesting.

  • Rachel B
    by Rachel B

    Sounds good I would love to try this


    I need to practice Jamu more often.

  • phyllis owens
    by phyllis owens

    never heard of this, will try it sounds great

  • Suzie Marie Stewart
    by Suzie Marie Stewart

    Love aroma therapy Very interesting article

  • Eghosa Atoe
    by Eghosa Atoe

    Super interesting

  • Darren Scrubb
    by Darren Scrubb

    This is a practice that many people need to hear about.

  • Dana Wong
    by Dana Wong

    I would like to learn more.

  • Linda
    by Linda


  • Laura Ungureanu
    by Laura Ungureanu

    Useful article! I'm glad to know about this ancient techniques.

  • kathy pease
    by kathy pease

    I have heard quite a bit about aromatherapy but never tried it. I bet it might help my anxiety :)

  • Laura L
    by Laura L

    I love this info. Thank you for sharing!

  • Amber H
    by Amber H

    Aromatheraphy needs more spotlight in modern days

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