Tag: Alternative Medicine

Day 991: The Subjective Science of Getting Friendly With Your Water


Good morning, water. You look lovely today. The way you have meticulously extracted the energizing essence of those crumbly brown nuggets of Sumatra in my coffee maker really brings out the glimmer in your droplets. Look, I’m a married man, but if I wasn’t, I would totally be gettin’ up in dat aqua, you feel me?

According to Dr. Masaru Emoto, I may have just created a more healthy and vibrant cup of coffee. Dr. Emoto is a revolutionary oracle of scientific knowledge, inasmuch as he has concocted his own definitions of the words “scientific” and “knowledge”. Dr. Emoto has “proven” (and it’s hard to find a source for his work that doesn’t nestle that word between the comforting pillows of quotation marks) that positive energy makes water better.

Not better-tasting, not more nutritious or refreshing… just better. Happier. More wholly fulfilled. Dr. Emoto unearthed that line where metaphysics and alternative medicine cross over into crazed Lynchian fiction, then leaped across it like a doped-up Olympian. He landed among the Technicolor bobbles of the absurd, cultivated his own particular brew of ludicrous reasoning and slapped a price tag on it.

And we bought in. Oh, how we bought in.

How could we not trust that sincere face?

How could we not trust that sincere face?

Masaru Emoto earned his doctorate at the Open University for Alternative Medicine in India, though I feel “earned” should be yet another resident of Quotes-Marks Manor, as I have unearthed a couple of sources which claim that such a degree can be bought for around $500. But Dr. Emoto’s doctorness is relatively moot, as he immediately set out to sail the vague ocean of alternative medicine, which contains far more fetid flotsam than it does navigable current. Read more…

Day 95: Who Do Jamu? Do You?

It’s only a matter of time before we’re all hopped up on jamu.

My Indonesian fanbase (and according to the figures before me, you all constitute a whopping 0.37% of my adoring millions) will no doubt agree with this. Jamu is old-school medicine, once (and still) sold by the Indonesian equivalent of shamans and witch-doctors and road-side Nerve Tonic scam-artists.

It’s mainly an herbal medicine, cultivated from various roots, leaves, bark and fruit. It also may contain some tasty animal ingredients, like alligator or goat bile. I’ve never been around jamu in person, but already I don’t like the smell.

The jamu tradition dates back to around the 8th century, in a place called Java during the 300-year Mataram Kingdom, ruled by the mighty King Sanjaya.

It was a strange and confusing time in the far East.

Indigenous Indonesian physicians (or ‘Indigenesian Physicians’ as I like to call them) used to procure jamu and distribute it to patients as needed, but it was more often attained via the reliable method of finding a vendor on the street. These vendors – usually women – would sell the medicine in one of its many forms, most commonly mixed into a bitter drink that was slightly sweetened with honey. This still happens.

They use trustworthy vendors. Just don't play football with them.

The recipe remains a mystery. Mostly because, like well-trafficked crack-cocaine, the recipe can vary from street corner to street corner. The idea is that the jamu recipes are not to be written down, but passed down through the generations like a recipe for really great cobbler. There were some early handbooks, including one that saw a lot of use in the last century, written in 1911 by a lady named Mrs. Kloppenburg-Versteegh. I’m not sure what her backstory was, but I’d like to picture her as a kindly older Jewish lady who fell in love with a strapping young Indonesian boy, then moved with him from Queens to Jakarta, abandoning her optometrist husband and three kids in order to live out her days in an Indonesian paradise. She regularly served up warm kugel and delicious mandel bread to the local villagers, along with her new in-laws’ recipe for a refreshing juma puree. Read more…