The Jakarta Post
Different medicinal plants used in 'jamu' will have different efficacy and in general they're beneficial to improve our wellbeing. (shutterstock.com/Wisnu Haryo Yudhanto/File)
Jamu (traditional herbal drinks) has been enjoying an increase in popularity among people who seek to maintain their health amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The pandemic has also encouraged Indonesian researchers to step up efforts to look into the potential of jamu ingredients as herbal medicine.
“Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, researchers in Indonesia have begun to look into the potential for several medicinal plants often used as jamu ingredients, such as turmeric, secang [sappanwood], bitter leaves and galangal,” Mangestuti Agil, a professor at the pharmacognition and phytochemistry department of Airlangga University's School of Pharmacy in Surabaya, East Java, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
The research, which used the molecular docking method, found that the plants contain certain properties that may help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to a paper published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, molecular docking is useful to model the interaction between a small molecule and a protein at the atomic level.
“For me, this is good news; what’s being researched was only one component from each plant. Each plant has tens to hundreds of components,” said Mangestuti.
Mangestuti added that consuming the aforementioned plants in the form of jamu on a regular basis had the potential to prevent the transmission of different microbes, including viruses and bacteria.
“Turmeric, for instance, is beneficial to improve our immunity. It also serves as an antioxidant and antimicrobe,” said Mangestuti, adding that ginger was also known as an immune booster and curcuma is beneficial in maintaining liver health.
Vanesa Kalani, founder of The Jamu Bar at Pacific Place in South Jakarta, shared a similar statement.
“Recent studies have shown that certain natural properties [contained in] herbs and spices that we consume, such as turmeric, which has high curcuminoid content, may act as an antiinflammatory to reduce the formation of cytokine storm, which thus delays lung damage,” said Vanesa in an email.
However the consumption of jamu should be complemented by a healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, enough sleep and stress management.
Jamu drinkers should also ensure that the beverage is made out of high quality ingredients without artificial ingredients and has secured a license from the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM).
“Jamu shouldn’t be processed in an overly hot temperature as it may damage the components and it should be consumed regularly, such as twice a week,” Mangestuti said.
Regarding side effects, Mangestuti said all medicine had one and jamu was no exception. Those who suffer from serious illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney diseases, and have allergic reactions, are advised to consult with their doctors before regularly consuming the drinks.
Vanesa added that jamu may cause allergies if more than the recommended intake is consumed.
“Each person has their own reaction to certain foods. In light of this ongoing pandemic, for example, jamu may or may not be taken together with some medicines, depending on the treatment someone might be undergoing," she said. (kes)
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