By webadmin on 11:40 pm Jul 06, 2010 | Aria Danaparamita
In a medical world teeming with MRIs, PET scans and NMDA receptors, loaded with nitroglycerin, atorvastatin and isosorbide dinitrates, one may long for the simpler days. For some, those days are already here.
Naturopathy, or complementary healing using natural medicines or methods, existed long before contemporary medicine. Through the years, modern medicine has taken over, but naturopathy is making a comeback of sorts, including in Jakarta.
Indonesia is no stranger to alternative medicine, with many singing the praises of traditional jamu (herbal drinks), massages and even shamanistic healing. But naturopathy in Jakarta has a more international flavor.
The Jakarta Globe recently sought out three different types of complementary healing: homeopathy from Germany, Ayurveda from India and reiki from Japan, which promise results without the side effects or high costs of modern medicine.
Homeopathy was first proposed in 1796 by German physician Samuel Hahnemann. The method, often derided as pseudoscience, is based on the theory that serial dilutions of a substance that causes a symptom can cure that symptom.
“It’s all about reharmonizing the body and letting it repair the broken tissues naturally,” said Sugiharto, who practices at a small family clinic in Central Jakarta.
Homeopathic substances are obtained from herbs and plants. The same plant or medicine can cure several ailments, proponents claim. The remedies are available in pill, cream or liquid form, and are still mainly imported from the United States, Germany and elsewhere.
Nur Aini, a homeopath based in South Jakarta, says it can cure anything from migraines to chronic internal diseases.
“Homeopathy is also more efficient and practical,” she said. “In the end, it’s much cheaper than modern allopathy.”
Though popular in many parts of the world, homeopathy is only practiced sparingly and sporadically in Indonesia.
“A lot of doctors condone homeopathy or even dabble in it themselves, but it’s still not very well known here,” Nur said, adding that it was recently introduced into the curriculum of the University of Indonesia’s School of Medicine.
Ayurveda, meanwhile, dates back thousands of years. Originating from Hinduism’s oldest texts, Ayurveda has been said to be the mother of medicine, and is believed to have given rise to herbal remedies such as jamu .
“Ayurveda is a lifestyle,” said Maya Safira Muchtar, director of L’Ayurveda spa in Fatmawati, South Jakarta. “It provides a holistic treatment to achieve a harmonious balance among the mind, body and soul.”
Ayurveda heals by rebalancing a sick person’s elements — water, earth, wind, fire and ether — with those of the universe.
“Each bodily organ is governed by an element,” Maya said. “When that balance is disturbed, that’s when you fall ill.”
The ayurvedic way also helps prevent illness by promoting a healthy lifestyle through yoga, crystal therapy and good food.
Another form of alternative healing that uses natural energy is reiki, developed in 1922 in Japan by Mikao Usui. Literally meaning universal energy, reiki heals using the natural forces in the universe, channeling them to patients to retune their bodies.
“There is energy all around us, and anyone can access it,” said reiki master Yuli Sambodho, from the Waskita Reiki clinic in East Jakarta. “The healer absorbs the positive energy from nature and transfers it to the patient, while the negative energy is let out of the body.”
Yuli claims reiki has cured heart disease, diabetes and lupus. The healing process depends on the severity of the illness and usually takes about 30 minutes.
For all the claims and skepticism surrounding these methods of alternative healing, it is hard to argue with the placebo effect that they promote. “Whatever makes you feel good, whatever is suitable for you, must be good for you,” Maya said.
Besides, in this material world, we could all stand to get more in touch with nature.