JUARA AROMATHERAPY SHOWER STEAMER

Open up airways and soothe sore muscles with our Eucalyptus essential oil shower steamer. Shower steamers are a great way to make your shower a soothing and indulgent treat. Our shower steamers are activated by the steam and water droplets in your shower to create calming clouds of steam filled with your favorite aromatherapeutic scents. Just place your steamer on your shower floor (but not directly under the shower’s stream) and enjoy the healing and rejuvenating effects of our essential oil powered Shower Steamers, and instantly turn your shower moment into a relaxing spa getaway!

All shower steamers come individually shrink-wrapped.

INGREDIENTS:

Citric acid, corn starch, isopropyl alcohol, essential oil.

DIRECTIONS:

Place the shower steamer in the corner of your shower out of the direct way of water, but where water still splashes it. Enjoy your therapeutic shower!

Available for a limited time as a special if you become a preferred customer, get your instant shower spa experience now!

Why layer, and does product order really matter?

Ever wonder why we layer skincare products, and whether the order of products matter?  Most of us use multiple products and steps in our skincare routine.  Growing up in Japan and watching my mother, I learned at a young age that skincare was a meticulous ritual, layer by layer in a specific order, step-by-step.  But is layering just a question of habit or preference, or, are there benefits to it?

 

LAYERING WITH PURPOSE

Layering products facilitates flexibility and allows for each product and step to maximize its purpose and the delivery of its skincare benefits, from cleansing all the way to moisturizing and nourishing.  There are also questions about ingredient compatibility.  There are ingredients that simply don’t go together in the same formulation.  Some ingredients are water-soluble, others are fat soluble. Certain active ingredients may work best in certain types of formulations, while others would not.  Applying a multitude of actives can benefit our skin, but trying to pack them all into one single lotion might compromise the long-term stability of the formulation.   This is where it makes sense to layer separate products.  Certain targeted ingredients especially, should only be applied where needed, either because it would be a waste otherwise, or worse, because it might irritate skin unnecessarily.  Most of us to a greater or lesser degree have combination skin with some areas drier or oilier than others, some areas more than others prone to break-outs, age spots, sensitivities and wrinkles, etc.etc.  Our faces are puzzles, composed of areas that often have a life of their own.  Layering products allows us to give all puzzle pieces the right TLC.

 

WHY PRODUCT ORDER MATTERS

As a general rule of thumb, lighter texture products should be applied before heavier products, humectants (water binding ingredients) before an occlusive (“sealants” like oils, butters, creams, ointments) to allow for maximum results and benefits. This is not to say that skin would reap zero benefits if the order was reversed, but the effect would be slower and weaker.  Scroll down for recommended order in more detail.

 

WHY CHOOSE A SYSTEM

A lot of the guesswork can be taken out of layering and product order by choosing a core skincare system by one brand.  We’re talking daily staples like cleanser, toner, moisturizer, etc.  Most skincare systems are designed and formulated to ensure ingredient compatibility, overall efficacy and layering safety within the same system.  This is not to say that you should never mix & match from different brands. Especially when it comes to items like masks and exfoliators which fall outside of your daily system, it can be nice way to personalize your program.  Respect your skin’s balance and unique needs, read up on ingredients, plus good old trial & error, and you’ll be layering like a pro in no time!

 

STEP 1 (AM & PM):  

Make-up remover & Cleanser

If you wear make up, the first step is to remove make-up and cleanse skin with a gentle cleanser.  Thorough but non-stripping is key, no matter what your skin type.  If you use a separate oil or oil-based make-up remover, be sure to wipe and wash off any excess residue that could interfere with the treatment steps that follow.

 

STEP 2 (AM or PM, weekly or monthly depending on skin type and product): 

Exfoliator

Whether it’s a classic scrub, enzyme or glycolic treatment or a combination product, exfoliating should generally follow after cleansing (or coincide with it, if it is a 2-in-1 cleansing scrub).  Keep in mind that skin tends to be more sensitive after exfoliating, so you might want to avoid applying products then that might be too irritating on newly-exfoliated skin.  If you have very sensitive skin, stick to exfoliating in the evening, so you’re your skin can rest and recover overnight.

 

STEP 3 (AM & PM):  

Toner

Whether your toner is just a hydrosol mist or a hydrating treatment, it should be applied after cleansing (and exfoliating).  Especially if it’s a humectant-rich(e.g. contains hyaluronic acid), soothing toner, it will help counter the drying effects of tap water and draw hydration to skin quickly and efficiently.

 

STEP 4 (AM and/or PM, depending on skin and product):  

Break-out treatment

Anti-acne actives should be applied only to affected areas and spots, to bare skin after toning but before other products are layered on top, in order to allow full acne-fighting efficacy.  Depending on severity of break-outs, this step is often reserved for night-time only.

 

STEP 5 (AM & PM)

Anti-aging serum

Whether your serum is a gel or an oil or something in between, benefits are delivered efficiently to skin that is still relatively bare.  If you don’t have break-outs, you can skip right to your serum.  Anti-aging serums containing Retinol, should not be applied on top of anti-acne treatments, because they are too irritating together (salicylic acid) or because they deactivate each other (benzoyl peroxide).  If you are not sure, either avoid the area where you applied the anti-acne treatment, or wait until the treatment has fully absorbed before applying the serum.

 

STEP 6 (AM & PM): 

Eye cream

Eye creams are formulated specifically for the delicate eye areas to address issues like dark circles , puffiness and fine lines, as well as dryness and dehydration.

 

STEP 7 (AM & PM): 

All-over moisturizer

Depending on your skin type, your all-over moisturizer should lock in moisture or balance oil, strengthen your protective barrier and ensure continuous hydration.  You can switch the order of Step 6 & 7, and apply your moisturizer before the eye cream, however, make sure you spare the eye area.  This is because a lot of all-over moisturizers are not formulated for the sensitive eye area, and also because you don’t want the moisturizer to weaken absorption of the eye cream.

 

STEP 8 (AM): 

Sunscreen

During daytime, your last step should always be an all-over, broad-spectrum sunscreen to give you that protective shield from the damaging UVA and UVB rays.  If your daytime face moisturizer contains sun protection, you can skip this step, as long as you apply it evenly all over your face and neck.  Foundation should go on top of the sunscreen, after allowing it time to set and penetrate skin.

Happy layering!

Self-love: What my kids see when I do my skincare ritual   

It wasn’t too long ago that I’d lock myself into the bathroom every evening to do my skincare ritual, while my 3 kids were bouncing around in their pre-bedtime hyperness.  After a day packed with work, errands, homework and cooking, I just wanted to have 5 minutes to myself, to cleanse and treat my face.  Predictably, the kids would knock on the door, demanding entry.  I would try to ignore them, while my husband would attempt to distract them, often to no avail.

But recently, I made the conscious decision to leave the bathroom door open and – GASP – invite them to witness my nightly ritual.  Why in the world would I voluntarily give up my 5 minutes of sanity?  Perhaps part of me felt that by NOT making a secret of it, they’d lose interest and leave me alone.  But another part of me actually decided that I wanted them to see how Mommy was taking care of herself.  Because the truth is, 99% of the time, they just see me in a state of hectic multi-tasking, my face alternating between tense and distracted.  They don’t actually ever see me in the act of taking care of myself, because I usually try to do so without them being present.

So by inviting them into the bathroom, I give them an opportunity to witness my transformation:  How my shoulders would drop, how my eye brows would go back up, and how my breathing would slow down.

It all starts with washing my face, which is my favorite step, because it’s like pushing a big re-set button.  It’s a signals to myself that I am letting go of baggage, at least in the moment:  I am freeing my mind and soul of tension that’s built up over the course of a day, just like I am cleansing and rinsing my skin of dirt and debris,  The kids witness the full effect of my dropping that baggage when I finally grab a towel, bury my face in it and DEEPLY, AUDIBLY EXHALE.  Ahhh…re-set!

Next are my treatment steps, toner, serum, moisturizer etc.  Here I think my kids are fascinated by how I touch – almost caress – my own face.  Throughout the day, they see me hold my chin when I ruminate, slap my forehead when I remember, scratch my head when I’m at a loss, rub my eyes when I am tired… yes, I touch my face often, but caress?

During my ritual, from massaging my face to patting cream around eye and cheek bones while I tilt and turn my head, the kids see their typically rushed mother  paying attention and being in the moment with herself.  The result?  I am not sure if my kids notice my refreshed, dewy skin, but for sure they see how at the end, I look in the mirror and flash a big smile – at myself.

The kids don’t always stay for the whole thing.  They often ask questions and demand I share the goods, which I do sometimes.  Who knows what their actual take-away is from watching Mommy treat her face.  At some point, they will lose interest, and I will get back my 5 minutes of alone time.  Until then, I’ll let them see my daily transformation through my skincare ritual, how important it is, in hopes that they will too make self-care a part of their toolbox for life.

 

 

The Ritual of Coffee

I love my morning coffee.  That rich deep warm feeling and smell reminds me of those exploratory days in my twenties when I used to meet up with a group of friends every weekend morning. We would brunch all day, dance a little, laugh a lot, and then wander off to work or play with the plan to meet up again that evening. Every morning, I look forward to the smell of our freshly made coffee, the pouring of dark liquid gold, the swirl of white frothy milk into the dark pool, and that warm smell when i hold the cup up for the first sip, and then the warm rich taste of my coffee. Each sensation of even that simple ritual is one I cherish.

For the love of Coffee

There’s more to love about my morning coffee ritual than you would think. More and more research supports that coffee is neutral or beneficial, not detrimental as believed in the past, for your health, or at least chemopreventive (another way of saying decreases the chance of cancer happening) for several different types of cancer, including breast, prostate, colorectal, liver, and cutaneous melanoma. (1, 2) I guess the bad news is that the amount of coffee you have to drink would need to be 3-4 cups a day (3)….but in today’s “grande” world…is that hard?

Routine away the Stress

And there are benefits to having a routine, too. Rituals have been shown to decrease anxiety or stress and increase well being. (1) In this modern, unpredictable world, the benefit of routine is that it is an anchor of predictability.  That predictability frees up brain space for one to be creative and productive. Was that weekend coffee with friends indeed more beneficial than I realized? And I wonder if the coffee ritual of self care I practice at night helps me in more ways than topically. The Invigorating Coffee Scrub in my evening shower helps to bring my morning full circle. I visualize that carefree time of youth as I wash away the dry skin patches, feel the smooth skin below, and protect with the earthy hydrating Kartini Oil or luxurious Candlenut Body Creme.

Now I am realizing I have two Rituals of Coffee, and I plan to make the most of both. One moment of mental breath plus one moment of phytochemical protection. Equals a day of delight and health. One more cup, please!

 

We love Tamarind Fruit – But what about the Seed?

Most people know about Tamarind fruit in some form, in Tamarind juice, in Indian chutney or curry or in good old BBQ sauce… Tamarind fruit pulp is the base for what most of us know as Tamarind.  The pulp which is rich in Vitamins and minerals boasts a whole list of health benefits by itself, helping to regulate digestion, improving blood glucose levels, blood circulation and cholesterol.  But did you know that hidden inside that tangy-sticky fruit pulp of a whole Tamarind are seeds (3-12 per pod) packed with proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids and minerals?  These little morsels of nutrition have surprising health benefits on their own!

For the Body:  Joint Relief & Other Benefits

Tamarind Seed holds great anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial benefits (1) when ingested.  Amongst its traditional uses is the treatment for joint pain and arthritis by ingesting roasted Tamarind Seed Powder.  Early research suggests that Tamarind Seed does indeed reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in joints, helping with pain and protecting bone and cartilage (2).

For Skin:  The Skin Hydration Optimizer

When applied to skin, Tamarind Seed Extract helps draw and bind vital hydration to the skin by feeding the skin’s natural moisturizing factor in the skin’s surface, similar to how Hyaluronic Acid does.  The genius lies in the molecular structure of Tamarind Seed Extract, which is able to penetrate the skin surface more deeply, resulting in deeper and more long-lasting hydration.  We use Tamarind Seed Extract in our Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner, where it is combined with Hyaluronic Acid, Green, White & Black Tea and Rice Bran Extract to draw and bind vital hydration to the skin and feed the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF).

Make your own Tamarind Seed Powder!

While fresh whole Tamarind is now available in many Asian and Latin grocery stores in the US, Tamarind Seeds alone or Tamarind Seed Powder are not.  Fortunately, you can make your own Tamarind Seed Powder quite easily!

  1. Buy fresh whole Tamarind and save the seeds after eating the pulp as a snack or using it for cooking.  Wash and dry the seeds with a paper towel.
  2. Roast the seeds in the oven at 300 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. Alternatively you can also roast them in a frying pain on low heat for about 5.  Let cool.
  3. Wrap the roasted seeds in a dish towel, place them on a thick wooden cutting board and roughly crush with a hammer. The kernels are very hard so you will need to use quite a bit of force.  When the Tamarind Seed cracks, the dark brown seed skin will come off, exposing the inner white seed.  Keep the brown skin.  It has nutrients as well!
  4. Grind the crushed kernels and seed skin in a coffee grinder until it is a fine powder. You will notice a nice, nutty aroma.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Keep cool and dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add 1 teaspoon of Tamarind Powder to your smoothie, juice or yogurt.  The powder does not actually dissolve in water, so I have found it easier to consume when it was suspended in a thicker medium like a smoothie or yogurt.

Enjoy experimenting!

7 Easy Tips to a Jamu Lifestyle Today

This last Sunday, I found myself lying face down on a table, disrobed and in a small, dark room contemplating my life. It was a serious moment not to be taken lightly…

…A seriously amazing moment as I was receiving my massage and feeling all my muscles relax and weeks of work-filled tension fade away. 😄 So what was I contemplating as my face was breathing through a massage table hole? I was thinking… how does one live a busy life, full of all its requirements and personal responsibilities and remain happy and balanced?

Answer – live a lifestyle that takes care of you in all areas. So I understand that’s vague, that we all love the idea of holistic health and wellness, but when the clock is ticking and we’re often scattered – how does that get incorporated into daily habits? Now I know most of us aren’t going to visit the spa every week, (well some of you lucky ones may,) or eat perfectly healthy all the time,  meditate daily, have a namaste filled yogic lifestyle, spend me-time, as well as mom-time, friends-time and wife-time (that’s a lot of time)….but we do a little of that… sometimes. And as long as sometimes is regular, that’s good enough. Balance is a product of regular effort that doesn’t run in extremes, and shouldn’t feel like a chore.

So as the masseuse Susan was putting an elbow into a particular sore shoulder muscle, I thought of a weekly list of things to incorporate to ensure a balanced life, the Jamu way – incorporating some natural ingredients that are used in our eastern, Indonesian medicinal tradition and mini-rituals that trigger self-care in a week. Now you can make your own list, but I thought I would share accessible tips to start – and of course, you can mix up the days, but this might make it easy to remember!

Massage Mondays:

Be aware of your body and love it. Take care of it. This can come in the form of a full body massage, or just a neck massage, even a hand massage you give to yourself. Always good – a gentle face massage, especially with our JUARA Rose Quartz Facial Massage Roller or even your fingers. The point is you are important, and a massage can not only increase circulation and relax muscles which could use a break, but it is also mentally relaxing and rejuvenating.

Turmeric Tuesdays:

(Or Tamarind, or Tea… )Toss a little of that bright orange root in your food! It can be as simple as adding some turmeric powder in your eggs, (see our Turmeric blog on suggestions on how to make it more effective in your body,) or taking a turmeric capsule  – which can be taken daily anyway. The point is turmeric has health properties and is high in antioxidants, it’s a core Jamu ingredient and it’s good for you. Because you’re good for you.

Wellness Wednesdays:

Take a yoga class or meditate. Or something that helps your body strengthen and stretch, become in tune with itself, as well as relax with purposeful breathing. Some people have a mindfulness practice like meditation. If you’re new and it seems like a lot to have a daily practice, well, start with Wednesday because why not? It’s just as good as any other day! But the point is – just start doing something that takes care of your mind, body, and breathing. It’s a powerfully calming and self-balancing practice.

Thankful Thursdays:

Why wait for Thanksgiving when you can be thankful every Thursday? (Or every day, actually.) Research does show that being grateful for what you do have can help your happiness and sense of satisfaction as it helps you focus on the present and on appreciation, rather than wanting more. This helps our brains compensate for its natural tendency to focus on worries, threats, and negative states..

Friends on Friday:

TGIF. Busy with family or work? A call or healthy chat session with a friend is always good to nourish yourself. There is research that also shows people with strong social, high-quality relationships with others are associated with living healthier, happier, and longer than their peers who are less socially connected. It is also good for your brain, especially in your 80’s. Your brain’s memories stay sharper longer – barring other conditions affecting it, vs memories of those who don’t have other people to rely on.

Spicy Saturdays:

Well, this could go many ways – but we’re suggesting that you spice up your Saturday with actual spices! Jamu is full of healthy ingredients that can be easy to add to meals and drinks – cinnamon is great for those who have to manage their blood sugar levels, chili pepper is not only yummy but also full of vitamins (and great if you have stuffed sinuses to clear it…) Ginger is naturally antibacterial and great if made into a tea for upset tummies, the list goes on and on. Experiment with your spice cabinet! There’s a reason Jamu has lasted centuries as an empirically proven health tradition using herbs and spices not only for flavor but for healing!

Soft Skin Sundays:

Take care of that skin and get ready for the new week to come! Enjoy a JUARA Face Ritual and a mask and indulge in a treat for your body. Of course, this doesn’t have to be once a week either, but give your skin extra TLC 1-2 times a week to maintain optimal hydration, smoothness, and health. This isn’t only for your face but your entire body – treat yourself to a luxurious body scrub like with our Invigorating Coffee Scrub and finish with the Ginger Coffee Firming Treatment for that extra caffeine kick to firm and smooth skin, and our JUARA facial masks – I like double masking – using 2 masks one after the other when I really want that purifying with the Rose & Willowbark Blemish-Free Mask followed by a deeply hydrating, winter-dryness busting Java Plum & Avocado Moisture Mask.

Again, all these can be practiced every day and any day, but once a week is a good start! Enjoy!

 

 

Kombucha – Probiotic Goodness

Why do people drink kombucha or kefir or eat saurkraut or yogurt? Do you know what prebiotics or probiotics are?

Let’s start at the beginning

Microbes all around us, and for the longest time, the world thought that all microbes were bad. But that’s not necessarily the case. Microbes consist of bacteria, yeast, viruses, and other small cellular organisms. Mostly bacteria, they live on our skin, inside our airways, and our digestive system, working as first line defense  against pathogens or “foreign invaders” that might cause an infection or set off other reactions like inflammation.

The good, the bad and the ever changing

Each person acquires a personalized set of bacteria starting from birth but modifiable with time, called a microbiome, that sets the balance for their body, affecting the ways that person digests sugars or breaks down toxins (1), smells when they sweat, helps the body absorb essential fatty acids or make vitamin folate, and helps to repair the cells of the digestive system or help to regulate inflammation (2). These beneficial functions are usually from what we call good bacteria.

Bad bacteria can result in diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even obesity (3). Your body’s microbiome has a combination of good and bad bacteria, with bad bacteria in the minority. The bad bacteria can sometimes take over when your balanced microbiome changes either via stress, a course of antibiotics or even a change in diet (4).

Prebiotics &  Probiotics

Although more research is still needed, there are early signs that foods with good bacteria, like kombucha or yogurt with active cultures, can improve our health and our cells. The theory is that these foods with good bacteria can help to seed your digestive system with good bacteria. There is also research that feeding the good bacteria by eating prebiotic foods high in fiber humans cannot but bacteria can digest like onions, garlic, flax seeds, apples, bananas, oats, cocoa and konjac help to support the flourishing balance of good bacteria in your system.

And your Skin

So we have talked a lot about how microbes affect your health and your gut, but what does all of this do for your skin? Keep your skin healthy and hydrated so that the good bacteria can proliferate and fight off the bad bacteria while keeping your skin’s immune system functioning well. And if you’d rather drink your kombucha, then apply that sweet black tea ferment of organic acids, minerals, and amino acids to your skin in the form of Sweet Black Tea and Rice Moisturizer, Ginger Moisturizer, and Miracle Tea Eye Creme. Cheers!

Turmeric Bioavailability – Easy tricks to maximize its benefits

Turmeric is a key ingredient in Jamu, the ancient Indonesian herbal medicine.  Since the scientific community in European and American started taking an interest in this rhizome in the last 20th century, Turmeric has become one of the most studied herbs.  The key nutrient in Turmeric that has been shown anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and potential anti-cancer properties is Curcumin.  Unfortunately, the health benefits of Curcumin when ingested, cannot be fully realized because if poor bioavailability, meaning that Curcumin is quickly broken down and metabolized by the liver and intestinal walls before it can work its magic where needed.

The good news is that there are simple tricks to improve Curcumin’s bioavailability – tricks that can be done daily and easily as part of your regular diet:

1.Mix it with fat

Curcumin is fat soluble.  By combining or dissolving it with a fat, it is better absorbed into the bloodstream (1).  It’s easy:  Combine Turmeric with a heart-healthy oil in a vegetable stir fry.  Or add it to your smoothie together with coconut milk or full-fat kefir.

2.  Fresh Turmeric vs. dried Turmeric

Dried Turmeric powder is more widely available than the fresh rhizome, but fresh Turmeric actually has better “built-in” bioavailability (2) because is about 10% fat content.

3.  Heat it up

Bioavailability of Curcuma is even further improved, when Turmeric is lightly heated in oil (3), which is why Turmeric is ideal to incorporate into your daily cooking, whether it is a stir fry or a curry sauce.

4.  Add a dash of Black Pepper

Black pepper contains piperine, which blocks the body from rapidly metabolizing Curcumin.  In fact, consuming fresh black pepper together with Turmeric, can improve bioavailability of Curcumin by 2000% (4).

5.  Combine it with Quercetin-rich fruits & vegetables

Quercetin is an antioxidant that gives certain fruits and vegetables their dark, blue-ish color.  Research shows that Quercetin blocks an enzyme that would metabolizes Curcumin, thus making it more bioavailable (5).  Quercetin-rich foods include blueberries, red grapes, red onions, green tea but also red apples.

 

In Skincare – Proven Effective

Turmeric has a long tradition in Indonesian beauty rituals as well, most famously in the Lulur bridal spa treatment.  While it is an age old recipe to boost skin radiance and luminosity, there is a growing body of recent scientific evidence that underscores topical Turmeric’s benefits in helping prevent and reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, acne, and signs of premature aging such as irregular skin tone and sun damage.  When we at JUARA craft formulations, we draw our inspiration from Indonesian tradition, but we also ensure that we select botanicals that have been tested for efficacy and safety according to today’s standards.

Several of JUARA products are formulated with Turmeric, including our

Clove Flower & Turmeric Anti-Aging Serum, Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask, Radiance Vitality Oil, Sweet Black Tea & Rice Moisturizer and Miracle Tea Complete Eye Creme, but also in body treatments such as our Kartini Body Oil.

To explore JUARA treatments that feature Turmeric and other active Jamu botanicals, click here.

A Jamu Lifestyle of Wellness, Community & Love

Let’s start with what we know. We know Jamu is an herbal healing tradition from Indonesia that spans across centuries, and is a part of everyone from ancient royalty, the villager, and the cosmopolitan youth today. We know Jamu utilizes ingredients including turmeric, tamarind, ginger, rice, and many more roots and plants indigenous to the Indonesian islands. But, did you know that Jamu is a tradition that is more than just the tonics – but also about the people who participate in a lifestyle of wellness, including the stories and relationships we have with people around this healing tradition?

One of the oldest Jamu companies that started over 4 generations ago is called Nonya Meneer. Mrs. Meneer has her own story and it starts like this: One day, Mrs. Meneer finds her husband is sick. No one can find a cure, and he’s not getting better. She, in her determination to save her husband, starts concocting herbs to see if she can cure him. She takes her basic knowledge and starts researching far and wide (not an easy feat back in the day,) to create something, anything that would work. One day, after repeated efforts, she concocted something that worked, (and yes, it contained turmeric too,) and thus his life was saved. Word spread of her ability to cure her husband and others in her village started coming to her for tonics that could also bring them back to health… and that’s how her business started. Her great granddaughter, who remains one of the Jamu recipe-bearers handed down today told me this story; she said her great grandmother was motivated by love to find a cure for her husband.

Everywhere I turn in Indonesia there is a story; my Indonesian friend laughs as she says her old, worried grandmother used to make her and her other grandkids drink a dark, bitter her tonic as a child for illness prevention and to treat my friend’s condition of perpetually cold hands. Even as my friend makes an icky face when talking about the taste of the tonic (occasionally being naughty and pouring it out in the toilet), the entire story is told with love and smiles. And my mom, the cosmetics junkie with all her expensive department store cremes and potions, dragged me into her bathroom one day before I had to go to work to show me her best skin tonic is smashing fresh tamarind into cold water and rubbing it on her face after cleansing saying “I’ve tried everything, my mom taught me this, and this still works better…”

Jamu used to come from the word “Jampi” which means “magical concoction.” There is a spiritual (not necessarily religious) aspect of Jamu in its history as centuries ago, the early healers who would create these tonics would also say a mantra/prayer and ask for a blessing form the gods before serving them so that these “magical recipes” would work to bring the patient back to wellness. Therefore Jamu isn’t only about the ingredients alone but the intent of wellness as well.

Today, as much as life may have changed, it really hasn’t – the basics of human relationships, eating and drinking healthily, taking are of our skin in a holistic, balanced fashion is as important now, if not more than ever in our fast paced world. Keeping the basics, bringing elements of the Jamu lifestyle centering around inner health, outer beauty and overall peace and happiness from self care still exists.

How do we maintain a Jamu lifestlye? It’s not hard – it starts with a belief that our own happiness matters, and therefore our health and wellness matters. Next is incorporation the healthy ingredients of Jamu and positive intentions in our lives in various ways, reminding us of our own journey to wellness and self care. We know the ingredients of Jamu are healthy, and now they are more accessible to all of us. Turmeric, tamarind, candlenut, rice, cinnamon – we consume Jamu ingredients for health and enjoyment more than we know today, it’s just becoming more intentional about it.

Jamu is a living tradition; in Indonesia, Jamu cafes are popping up, the next generation adding their spin on the older recipes, and even in the US, I go to restaurants that spice their food with “Bali spice.” I was just in LA and 2 nights in a row, that was on the menu – even the west is coming up with its own variation on ingredients of an ancient tradition. The point is Jamu is about infusing these specific ingredients in our daily lives for holistic wellness and care – not only for ourselves but also for others around us who we love. So share the love of life by incorporating a more Jamu-infused lifestyle!

Tea Synergy: The Benefits of Togetherness

Antioxidants are supposed to be good for us, and most of us try to consume antioxidants through food, drinks or supplements. But ever wonder if a specific form of antioxidant is better? Like if I love to drink tea, should I drink green, white or black tea? Or should I cut to the chase and load up on antioxidant supplements?

First, what’s the difference between the teas?

Tea, first introduced as a traditional medicine in Asia, is from the Camellia sinensis plant and can vary by processing steps: Green tea and white tea are non‐fermented and minimally or lightly oxidized while black tea is fully fermented and oxidized. (Herbal teas are any teas not made from Camellia sinensis.) The different processing results in different bioactive compounds. Green tea has flavan‐3‐ols (catechins), proanthocyanidins (tannins) and flavonols. Black tea contains theaflavins and thearubigins while white tea contains l‐theanine and gamma‐aminobutyric acid (GABA), among others. The health benefit of teas has been correlated with these bioactive compounds, which have anti‐inflammatory, anti‐diabetic and anti‐cancer activities.

Why does it matter that there are different antioxidants? Don’t they all do the same thing?

Antioxidants, produced by the body or ingested, are part of the body’s defense system against damaging free radicals that are formed during the body’s normal cellular processes or when exposed to UV radiation, pollution or stress, etc. Different antioxidants operate in different parts of cells and participate in different chemical processes throughout the body. Some antioxidants suppress the formation of free radicals, while others “scavenge” to remove the free radicals before they do damage, or work to repair damage once it has been done.

Synergy, A theory of the whole is better than the parts

So it makes sense that combining different teas and herbs with various bioactive components might have synergistic (or antagonistic) effects in their bioactive efforts. Synergy is based on the idea that using a whole plant containing a group of chemicals working together or a combination of plants is more beneficial than using a single compound to achieve a specific effect.  For example, the equal ratio of of black tea, black pepper (Piper nigrum), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) showed higher antioxidant activity compared to that of the individuals. Research on the combination of  green and black tea showed a stronger antimicrobial effect than alone.

Tradition in science

So perhaps that synergistic antioxidant and antimicrobial effect is the reason that people in Indonesia and Asia use a mixture of leftover teas to rinse their face. And that is why the JUARA Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner uses a combination of green, white and black teas for that synergistic antioxidant effect post a day of stress, tiredness and pollution. Oh wait, and I will have a tea with that! Any tea, please!