It is already well-known that Indonesia’s land is very prosperous for spices. That is why a long time ago it attracted many foreign countries such as China, Arabia, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and the Netherlands to come here to trade or to conquer it. It is also the reason why Indonesian food is rich with spices and herbs such as: ginger, turmeric, different types of galangal, shallots, garlic, nutmeg, cloves. There are also fresh leaf seasonings like lemon grass, lemon basil (known as kemangi), kaffir lime, daun salam (a type of bay leaf), turmeric, etc. And of course chillies. Not only that these spices make the food taste delicious, but they are also part of botanical treasures which are good for medication. As a part of modern medical treatment, people in Indonesia have already used herbs and spices for traditional medicine.
Here some spices among others that can be used for medicine:
– Clove, which is a native spice from Indonesia and used as ingredient in cuisine all over the world, has many beneficial usage especially for medication. According to FAO, Indonesia produced almost 80% of the world’s clove output in 2005 followed at a distance by Madagascar and Tanzania. In India, cloves are used in Ayurveda called Lavang, while in Chinese and western, they use it for an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are also used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. It’s known as natural antihelmintic (drugs that expel parasitic worms (helminths) from the body, by either stunning or killing them). The cloves contain of an essential oil (aetheric oil), also a number of some good chemicals compound. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), clove is one of the most widely used botanical medications in the world. As in Indonesia, this spice has been used for medicine since long time ago. With right measure together with other herbs, cloves can heal toothache, heavy cough, fever because of Malaria, pain during the menstruation and also to solve bad breath problem.
– Ginger is widely used across the country either for cuisine or medication. There’s a special drink in Central Java called ‘Wedang Ronde’ which is made from ginger and peanuts and it’s good for healing a sore throat. Ginger is also good to increase the body stamina, to heal the colds, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness and fever.
– Galangal (Kaempferia galangal), just as ginger, it is also good to increase the body stamina, against bad breath, to heal stomach inflammation, nausea, vomiting and cold.
– Turmeric has lot of benefits for health. Besides widely used as a food coloring and is one of the principal ingredients in curry powder, it is also used for traditional medicines meant to maintain good health and beauty. Turmeric has long been used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive disorders (stomach upset, gas, abdominal crams) and liver problems, preventing bacterial infection in wounds, and for treating skin diseases and wound healing. It is also good for treating irregular menstruation and leucorrhoea for women. Other benefits are for body heating and to make blood’s circulation run smoothly. There has been a substantial amount of research on turmeric’s anti-cancer potential. Evidence from laboratory and animal studies suggests that curcuma has potential in the treatment of various forms of cancer, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon. Human studies will be necessary before it is known to what extent these results may apply to people.
– Another Indonesian spice which is good for food ingredients as well as for health is lemongrass or Indonesian calls it ‘Sereh’ or ‘Serai’. Lemon grass is widely used as a herb in Asian cuisine. It has a citrus flavour and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. Research also shows that lemon grass oil has antifungal properties. Lemongrass has many good properties such as healing a headache, muscle and joint pain, nerve pain, rheumatism, sore throat, irritable bowel syndrome, Gastroenteritis, stomach pain, flatulence, diarrhea, stomach pain, irregular menstruation, bad breath, increases appetite, heals swollen gums, toothache. There is a traditional drink from west Java called ‘Bandrek’ which is made from lemongrass’s stick. It’s good to warm the body.
Despite all those spices above, there are still many herbs and spices in Indonesia which have great benefits for the persons health. As long as you use them with the right measurement/dosage.