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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Cold? Meet Herbal Magic in a Ketchup Packet – Metta Murdaya

20 May
My cold cure in a ketchup packet.

My cold cure in a ketchup packet.

About 2 days before I was supposed to get on a flight to be the maid-of-honor of JUARA girl Tami’s destination wedding (read: lots of duties!), I woke up in the morning feeling like a truck had rolled on me – and forgot to roll off. I took stock: Sore muscles, Runny nose, sneezing, headache and sinus pressure, sore throat: CHECK. As I was curled up shamelessly and miserably on the doctor’s examination table later that day, he breaks it to me that I have a really nasty, mean, vengeance seeking cold virus. Since there was nothing he could really prescribe that would kill a virus, I got sent home with a prescription for some OTC sinus relieving medicine and a ‘just rest and good luck!’ Not even a ‘take an aspirin and call me in the morning.’ Gee.
But he did not know of my secret weapon in my medicine cabinet, my staple friend: the good ol’ Indonesian Singkir Angin herbal tonic in a concentrated single-dose packet. It’s from the company called Nyonya Meneer (Madam Meneer) today a 4th generation jamu (Indonesian herbal tonic) company started by woman healer (Mrs. Meneer herself) in her home. It’s basically like a liquid Ricola shot with a bazillion good-for-you herbs specifically formulated to help get rid of colds, achey bodies, and general malaise. The one I have is specifically good as it includes echinacea to help boos the immune system. It’s sweet, tasty, and minty and sold in single servings packets, it’s so easy to keep at home and at the office.
So what else is in this wonder drug cutely packaged in oversized ketchup sachets? Here’s a cute little commercial for it.
Although different brands may have variations, the core ingredients are the same. It contains fennel extract which helps relieve colds and pain associated with cold illnesses, combined with clove leaves, ginger, mint and menthol, valerian, echinacea and ginseng to basically soothe the symptoms of the cold while calming your digestive system, helping you be relaxed and comfortable while your body heals. Naturally sweetened with honey, which is also anti-bacterial, it’s not just the ingredients used, but the combination together that makes this a synergistically more powerful concoction, traditionally drunk in Indonesia for centuries. This recipe from the old healers of Indonesia hasn’t been passed down for centuries for no reason, their combo works!
Just tear it open and take a single chug when feeling down, it’s my happy place when I get sick. I take it and give it to all my sick friends and feel OK doing so because I know the ingredients are natural and safe. My sister came up with a brilliant way to drink it – pour the contents into a cup, (there’s only like, 2 tablespoons worth,) add a little hot water in it and, and feel the aroma of sweet menthol cutting right through your sinuses like a ray of clear sunshine through the clouds. The most important part: Did I make it to the wedding? With rest, several Singkir Angin sachets a day, I did! I felt pretty good, good enough to make through all the late-night parties and no one even knew I was a total wreck just a few days before. Amazing what a few little plants can do!

For more information/articles on Jamu and Indonesian herbal/beauty tradition, search “JAMU” on this blogsite! Do you have any favorite at-home cold remedies?

Inspiring Herbal Drinks

24 Mar

There’s a whole library of great natural ingredients from Indonesia (and beyond), but I wanted to focus on two of my favorites and how to use them to boost your own health and beauty – both inside and out!

Turmeric: Widely used in curries around the world and as a staple of many Indonesian health tonics, turmeric is a root with powerful antioxidant properties. Turmeric, known to be a liver and blood detoxifier, has strong antibacterial and internal cleansing powers, and can be used to treat illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer’s. The effects of turmeric is also said to be improved when mixed with black pepper. In Indonesia, it’s not only a key ingredient in health tonics, but it is also is used in a poultice for topical application on wounds. Also, turmeric is used in spa treatments to purify and to give skin a beautiful glow.

Tamarind: Tamarind can either be eaten or used topically, boasting many benefits with either usage. It has topical anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties. When eaten, it can help with digestive problems, lower cholesterol, and serve as a mild laxative. It contains fiber, potassium, magnesium, and many other vitamins. It’s shaped like a giant pea pod with a hard shell and has a soft, sticky, chewy fruit inside with hard seeds. When applied to the skin, the seeds have strong hydrating properties. The fruit itself has antiseptic and astringent properties. It tastes tangy and sweet, so it is commonly made into a candy. Many times, however, you will find it used in soups and other savory dishes. Tamarind is so tasty, it’s easy to forget that you’re also eating a super healthy food!

Drink it!
Kunyit Asem.

One of the popular daily health tonics (called Jamu) in Indonesia is a go-to beverage for women who want to improve overall well-being and increase their energy levels. Kunyit Asem is a medley of turmeric and tamarind that is garnished with sugar or honey and a pinch of salt. When poured over ice, it makes for a refreshing beverage! There are prepackaged versions you can buy at the store. Some add betel leaf, a pepper plant that is commonly included in Indonesian beauty products and beverages to refresh the breath and improve overall body odor. Watch the video to see how Jamu is made from scratch!

So let’s do the same for your skin!
JUARA’s Turmeric and Tamarind Treatment Duo.

Use this to to supercharge your skin! After cleansing, use the Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask twice a week. Its antioxidant qualities strengthen and detoxify the skin; plus, it has a brightening power that will give you an instant radiant glow. The turmeric is infused in a non-drying mud mask that also purifies skin and refines pores. It’s a great skin recharger – like hitting reset on your face’s health button.

Follow up with the Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner (which should be used daily, even if not using the mask.) This cottonball-free toner-serum is a skin quenching step that takes just a few seconds. Tamarind and hyaluronic acid work together to deeply hydrate skin, replenishing lost moisture to give skin an instantly soft and supple feel, while antioxidants from tea and the redness reducing abilities found in rice bran extract add extra skin-calming benefits. Follow with your favorite moisturizer (we recommend the Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer), and see the difference!

Ginger – Whacked, Shaken or Stirred? – Metta Murdaya

10 Dec

When I get the signs of a cold, have an upset tummy, or just need a little soothing but zingy pick-me-up drink, I drink ginger tea. Ginger is a wonder ingredient common in Asian food, beverages, and beauty treatments because of its great medicinal properties. In Indonesia, we consider it a ‘heaty’ ingredient that warms you up (great when you have a cold), helps digestion with its anti-bacterial properties, and can also be used in body-wraps used in spa treatments. When you’re done with these treatments, ginger tea mixed with palm sugar is also served as a traditional beverage. But I want to know – why does the ginger tea in Indonesia just taste so much more fragrant and richer than when I make it at home in NY?

I‘m in Indonesia now, and I learned an Indonesian secret in how they make their ginger tea super aromatic and delicious, so if you’re a ginger tea fan, listen up.
Normally, I make ginger tea by slicing ginger and boiling it in water, but the secret for really bringing out the aroma and depth of the flavor is to cook and whack it. That’s right. Cook and whack it! First, you have to pan-sear the whole (or large chunks of) ginger until parts of the skin are black. Don’t use oil; you’re basically just roasting the skin in a dry pan. Now peel the ginger skin off the best you can. Then, instead of slicing it into bits, whack the whole ginger chunk until it’s smashed near flat, like when you smash a garlic clove with the side of a knife. Then boil away in a saucepan covering the ginger with only a few inches of water. I personally err on the side of strong tea that I can always weaken with more water if needed. Sweeten with honey, sugar, or palm sugar – which tastes like a combination of flowers and brown sugar with a tiny pinch of salt. Delicious.
My theory is that the pan cooking heats the ginger to release the aroma more, and whacking it brings out the juices, but whatever the reason, it works.

Here’s another fun, inexpensive use of ginger in a beverage that I concocted: For a JUARA event at Fashion Week in NY this year, we made JUARA cocktails. One of them was a ginger tea cocktail in which I sliced a whole ginger (very thinly, no smashing needed) and put it in a full bottle of vodka (minus the volume of the ginger.) Leave 3 days, and voila – you have an instant ginger vodka infusion. It looks really pretty with the ginger slices floating, and tastes oh-so-spicy good. Chill and mix with tea, and you’ve got a ginger-tea cocktail. I also like mixing ginger slices in my Kombucha for a little variety, and am looking for other fun uses in drinks!

At JUARA, we use it in our oil-free Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer, where the ginger works as an oil-control/anti-shine ingredient, so if you want to try that out, check it out here.

Anyone have any creative uses for ginger in beverages, food, or beauty treatments?

Cosmetic Secrets of Ancient Cultures: Indonesia – Nicol Ambrosius

2 Dec

Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? Or did you take the easy way and just waited for the movie? Either way you’ve seen the beauty and spirituality of Indonesia. And that beauty is not coming out of the blue.

JAMU-up your life

No, Jamu is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, we all should crave for a little more of that ancient Indonesian tradition of natural health where medicinal herbs are used to treat every aspect of life. Leaves, roots, fruits, flowers and barks of various plants are used for treatments to rejuvenate and pamper the body. Basically, Jamu creates inner peace which results in outer beauty. (If you are interested in learning more about Jamu you should check out Susan-Jane Beers book “JAMU. The Ancient Indonesian Art of Herbal Healing” or watch this awesome video.)

If you are ready to jump in at the deep end and want to jamu-up your life, here is the information you need to pamper yourself like a Javanese royalty does:

But where’s the coconut?

Well, it should be in your hair. Rinse your hair with coconut milk instead of a commercial conditioner. This natural conditioner will leave your hair sooo soft and shiny.

It’s a wonder nut alright.

Candlenut (fyi: in Hawaii, candlenut is also known as Kukui) truly is a wonder nut. Candlenut oil is known for its remarkable skin care aids and its moisturizing properties as well as an awesome hair conditioner. The oil protects from harsh sunlight, drying winds and salt. So grab your bag and make a run to the next Whole Foods to get your own bottle of Kukui Nut Oil. Or if you want something a little more special here is your link to your own personal candlenut heaven: JUARA’s Candlenut Body Creme.

Turmeric Time

Turmeric plays an important role in the life of any Indonesian. It’s used in multiple ways: as food, as a medicine, as a beauty ingredient. Turmeric is also used by women during an ancient royal bridal ceremony called Lulur. The root is used within that ceremony to cleanse the body and give it a radiant glow.

Turmeric is known for its antioxidant properties and therefore widely used on acne prone skin. It does not only help fight damage from free radicals, but it also helps to reduce inflammation and evens out discoloration from old-break-outs.

If you want to get pampered like an Indonesian bride, a turmeric mask is your way to go. But be careful since Turmeric STAINS. And if I say stain I mean it. When using yellow turmeric your skin will stay yellow for a couple of days. A possible alternative is JUARA’s Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask. This mask is a wet clay mask that exfoliates and purifies pores. There is a special complex of turmeric in it so no stains. I promise =)

Wow, while writing about all those exotic rituals I realized that I HAVE to go to Indonesia at some point. But I guess I’ll start with a Spa visit first. After all that’s the cheapest way…

Have you ever been to Indonesia?

Meet Vanessa, Indonesia’s JUARA Ambassador – Metta Murdaya

28 May

Meet Vanessa, who has been a JUARA fan and advocate in Indonesia and loves spreading the word. When I was just in Indonesia this last month, I took a few minutes with her to share why people across the world like it, especially from where our line is inspired from. Different cultures, different climates, different seasons – but it looks like we all have some things in common, ladies!

If you are or have friends who are from a different country, what skincare products or treatments do you/they like? Do share, we love learning new things!

PS – We have a FREE SHIPPING on ALL ORDERS Special this Memorial Day Weekend. Friday, May 28 through Monday, May 31, 2010. Happy Shopping at JUARA!

Safe Travels… so you think…? -Metta Murdaya

7 May

Dengue Fever is transmitted through mosquitoes in areas of stagnant, clean pools of water in tropical areas.

You know how you hear of stories of “my friend’s friend went to India/Africa/Asia/ExoticLand and got this crazy mystery illness and [insert bodily harm/damage here]…” And at some point you think, “Well, that’s got to be an exaggeration that won’t happen to me…” till it happens to you – that unrecognizable or unbelievable disease that seemed so last century? Well, that’s what just happened to me – a victim of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. What is it? A virus transmitted from an infected mosquito that wreaks total havoc to your system.  Dengue’s bad enough, but this was the doozy kind, the complicated one where you see death rates possibly in the double digits… What I thought was a bad sunburn leading to dizziness and nausea turned out to be a much more serious condition after the Dr. said “Blood Test!” (yes, even JUARA Girl makes sunblock mistakes, knowing all the points from Yoshiko’s entry on sunblock.) What saved my proverbial a**? Catching it on the 2nd day of the fever and being rushed to the hospital to be hooked up to fluids at my mother’s insistence; had I been diagnosed a mere 2 days later, prognosis would have been much, much worse. Let’s just say we might be the JUARA Trio. So – 7 days in the hospital with IV needles up my arms, nausea, rashes, fever, and then some… and then the virus passed. In the process, I was treating a bad sunburn with Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner (oil-free, cooling hydration) daily. I was a lucky one and got discharged just today. Others who “didn’t do so well,” as my sister-in-law says, aren’t around to tell the tale. So what went wrong though? How the heck did I get it anyway, me, the supposed comfortable bi-global traveler? When your brother’s advice is “Don’t Die,” should I feel like I had overlooked something?

Let’s face it – bad things happen to good people. Or lots of things happen to good people, some of it just bad. Like overzealous UV rays that give sunburns and lower your immune system. Or mosquitoes that give you deadly viruses. Or the occasional typhoid that you get from a dirty cup (oh, that was so 2008…) Sometimes it’s really just a part of life, and so I realize the key is to KEEP YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM STRONG!!! A few interesting tips I am walking away with to be on my preventative well-being list, some mainstream, some more traditional Indonesian…

– Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and keep your electrolyte levels happy – your system functions better when hydrated. If you are in SE Asia, there are many new ‘electrolyte’ drink but a good standby that’s not a sugar bomb: Pocari Sweat; it’s like local Gatorade (but Japanese inspired.) Also, when buying bottled water, (I only saw this in China though where people were refilling used water bottles and selling as new…) make sure the seal hasn’t been broken and that your bottle of water is really, truly new/unopened.

– Use plenty of sunblock. REAPPLY FREQUENTLY. I made the mistake of going into the beach for only 2 hours with not enough sunblock in a haze of silliness, then played in the water and burned like a mad – since I was so dehydrated from wedding festivities the night before, which REALLY doesn’t help either. Bad sunburns reduce your immune system too and that is no joke. And that makes you more vulnerable to a whole other host of potential illnesses like typhoid, or cholera, or even good ol’ Montezuma’s revenge… (traveler’s diarrhea.)

– Drink red guava juice, the fleshy kind with the million seeds: Keeps your blood healthy, it’s more a traditional remedy but I’ve never drunk so much in the last 6 days, and it did help… It helped maintain energy levels from draining. On that note, eat a ton of fruit. The tropics has PLENTY of variety to keep you delightfully satiated. (Bird’s nest + ginseng is another price concoction but works wonders too.)

– Get enough sleep. Nuff said. The problem with a compromised immune system is that you don’t know it until something hits you that normally shouldn’t or wouldn’t – and when you’re traveling, there’s always so much excitement that sometimes our adrenaline keeps us going longer than it should, and with jet lag for many, the first few days are filled with a haze of odd sleep hours.

– Wear mosquito repellent if you think there are ANY mosquitoes around. Malaria is prevalent in areas where the water is dirty, and Dengue lies where the water is clean. (Stagnant pools of water like little ponds after a rain, or an unmaintained swimming pool…) So you’re screwed wherever you are in tropical zone, really. You can give people Dengue by being sick and around mosquitoes that might bite your infected self, then transmit to your pal or child nearby… This wasn’t so much an issue in the past but lately, if you’re traveling to tropical areas, the infection count has hit near epidemic proportions so it’s worth the precaution…

So, stick with those basics when traveling in tropical land (or at least Indonesia) and you’ll probably be OK. The slightest sign of what might even be a cold, check it out – because it just might be not your common cold in ye lively parts! Good luck and happy travels!

haemorrhagic fever

haemorrhagic fever

Up in the Air and Behind the Brand – Metta Murdaya

19 Mar

I just came back from a trip to Indonesia, one of many I take every year. The stay there is the focal point of my trip, but I think getting there alone is a trip of its own. It’s a 24 flight EACH WAY from NY, I have to strategize on how to keep myself amused and when I sleep so I don’t walk out of the plane like a lost zombie. So, here are some key highlights of my frequent flights…

– I save about $40 watching at least 4 movies each way that I missed in the theatres and think “Oh, I’ll catch that on the plane for free.”  And then I do. Woohoo!

– I practice a little yoga in the hallway to keep me limber, to the amusement of the stewardesses. Note: This always challenges my balancing poses. Especially when there’s turbulence.

– I have threatened jet lag to keep me at bay by sleeping on and off to adjust to the time change. Futile are its efforts to get me, “We try her every time but she just won’t pass out at 2pm!”

– I sashay radiantly out of the plane each time, since I take a Travel-Size of the Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner to keep my dry, recycled-air exposed skin refreshed and faboo. And faboo is good.

So – back to Indonesia.  I go back home to Jakarta and Bali to see family, friends, and of course, live, breathe, and research for JUARA. After all, it’s the ancient Indonesian herbal tradition and beauty rituals I grew up with that inspired me to create the line. I wish I could take everyone who asks “What’s it like over there,”  but that’s a little tough. Ok, I can do carry on luggage, so for all you JUARA fans 40lbs and under – you must be this small to ride this ride – jump on in, and we can watch the movies together.

For the rest of you over 40lbs, I give you this video. Enjoy!

(Do you have travel tips to make long flights easier? I’m always looking for suggestions!)