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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.