Coin rubbing, name changing and other alternative treatments in Indonesia
Despite its new national health insurance scheme, many Indonesians find hospital treatment too costly, and continue to seek out traditional treatments. Here are four of the most popular.
1. Drinking Jamu at Jamu Bukti Mentjos
Jamu is a herbal medicine that originated in Java. We spoke with Horatus Romuli, the third generation owner of Jamu Bukti Mentjos, a store that has been around since the ’50s.
Why do you think people today still choose to drink Jamu?
Because people have experienced its benefits. Jamu has a long term effect, acting as a preventive medicine as well as a treatment if taken regularly. There are all sorts of Jamu for women – whether they’ve just gotten their first period, they’re getting married, or they’re pregnant. These Jamu are all for health maintainence. For men it’s different; it depends on their physical condition.
Would you take Jamu together with other modern medicine?
There are a lot debates in the health industry about that. It’s possible, but not advisable.
How do you encourage people to drink Jamu more often?
It’s usually spread by word of mouth. People who have experienced the benefits would undoubtly share them with their friends and family. My years of working here have shown me that no one comes here out of force. There was once a woman who used to come here with her grandma for years and now she comes regularly with her own granddaughter.
2. Name reconstruction with Ni Kadek Kristy Hellen Winatasari
In Javanese and Balinese culture, a name is said to have power over your destiny. Bad fortune and frequent, terrible illnesses are supposedly caused by the name given to you at birth. The practice of name-changing was born out of the need to save people from their misfortune. We talked with Ni Kadek Kristy Hellen Winatasari, a name reconstruction expert who has been recognized for her dedication.
What is a name reconstruction expert?
It is one of the oldest sciences. I am from Bali, where this form of name changing is commonly known as ‘Keberatan Nama’ (Name Challenged), which means your name may be too burdensome for you. When someone is sick, and the doctor doesn’t understand why, the patient may decide to consult a shaman and change their name to fix the problem. My mum was just such a case. A name influences how you lead your life, including your health and achievements.
Who should consider changing their name?
Changing names is for anyone who has trouble handling their emotions, for those seeking to socialize better or self-actualise. In Indonesia, names are derived from inspiring meanings but they may be detrimental to a person’s character.
How did you get into this profession?
My background is in psychology and hypnotherapy. I got into this world in college when I learned about transpersonal psychology, a sub-field of study which is beyond the physical, integrating spirtual aspects of the human experience to understand the healing process. Transpersonal psychology believes that a name has a meaningful impact on your life.
How do you find a proper name for someone?
By calculating the numbers in someone’s full name. Eight is bad luck and five is prosperous. It can be analysed according to: productivity, health and relationships, pressure and prosperity. I learned my way of doing it from masters of different forms from China and Indonesia. After some time, I understood every country has their own way of analyzing names. In America, it’s called numerology.
Have your clients responded well to their new names?
My success can be measured by how much people share their experiences. My clients are not only in Indonesia but have also spread out internationally.
3. Self-healing at True Nature Holistic Treatment
Therapist Diwien Hartono entered the world of holistic healing after expert Reza Gunawan helped her with her own emotional and physical pain. We talked to her about how emotional wellbeing can impact your body.
Do you think mainstream medicines are effective?
I wouldn’t say they’re not effective, but there are many medicines that only heal the body. They don’t touch our inner psyche.
What methods do you use?
I use two methods, the first for physical pain and the second for emotional or mental wellbeing. For physical pain, I use a technique from Japan called Jin Shin Jyutsu, acupressure and massage. For emotional blocks I use a technique called Tapas Accupressure Technique.
Why should people understand the health impacts of their emotions?
The root of pain and problems with the body is almost always the inner psyche. For example, people who worry too much normally have stomach and digestive problems, and people who return to work after strenuous exercise have strokes, caused by an overdrive in ambition.
Who is holistic treatment for?
Everyone – men and women from toddlers to seniors – has the ability to heal themselves holistically. It’s especially for those who have an awareness that we are not just our bodies, but we have an inner psyche and energy that need to be tended to too.
4. Kerokan massage with Sukarno
‘Masuk angin’ is a common term which translates as ‘catching a cold’, a term used to describe the symptoms such as body aches, nausea, a runny nose, headaches, and so on. We spoke to Sukarno, who has worked as a massage therapist in Jakarta since 1993 but now resides in his hometown of Solo, Central Java.
What is kerokan?
It’s a form of massage popular with old men who are sore and tired. I am most familiar with the normal Javanese massage or reflexology, but I use kerokan mostly to get rid of the common cold symptoms.
Can you describe the kerokan technique?
Normally people would use a coin and scratch it down someone’s skin until it’s red. It’s how we get rid of the accumulated air in one’s body. I normally use a very old classic coin because of the smoother edges. Other people often use the Rp. 500 coin, which is rougher on the edges and more painful.
Which areas of the body do you rub?
The back or the chest is enough. Some prefer to have their legs treated as well if they have muscle pain. But normally other forms of massage work better for muscle problems.
Health through the Culture Lens is a weekly series exploring important cultural currents in health and pharma
- Article by Athina Ibrahim