Isen, Balinese Usadha Complementary Ingredient with Various Benefits

Isen (Alpinia galanga), only used as a complement, but it has many benefits. Its uses are often found in traditional medicine in Bali, as stated in various types of Balinese usadha lontar.

Sep 19, 2023 - 14:00
Sep 10, 2023 - 20:01
Isen, Balinese Usadha Complementary Ingredient with Various Benefits
Alpinia galanga plant (Source: Editorial Collection)

The existence of traditional Balinese medicine has become very popular in Indonesia. For a long time, the Balinese people have utilized plants as the main ingredients in concocting traditional remedies. In fact, before modern medicine developed, the Balinese community solely relied on traditional healers, known as "Balian usadha," for treating their illnesses.


Usadha Bali is a term used to describe traditional healing procedures that exist and develop in Bali. The word usadha comes from the Sanskrit word "ausadhi" which means medicinal plants. Balinese people still believe that traditional usadha medicine has many benefits in curing illnesses.


The richness of Balinese culture related to traditional medicine is contained in the Usadha Bali palm leaf. Lontar Usadha Bali is a manuscript containing the medical system, medicinal ingredients, and traditional healing methods in Bali. The richness of Balinese culture needs to be preserved because it serve as a reference for the discovery of new medicines.


One type of Balinese usadha which is very common among Balinese people is galangal (Alpinia galanga) which is often called isen in Bali. Isen is a type of tuber plant that has a spicy aroma and is often used as a cooking spice. Apart from being used as a cooking spice, isen is also a complement to traditional ceremonies and complementary ingredients for traditional ingredients medicine.


Isen tubers (Source: Editorial Collection)


This plant can grow anywhere, both in highland and lowland areas. The stem consists of an arrangement of leaf midribs. This plant also contains many important elements, such as essential oils with a composition of around 1 percent, and other elements that have benefits for body health. The components contained in isen include Methylcinnamate around 48 percent, Sineol around 20-30 percent, Eugenol, Camphor around 1 percent, and Sesquiterpenes.


In the Lontar Taru Pramana, one of the palm leaves contains information about medicinal plants, explaining the many benefits of isen. However, isen tends to be used as a complementary ingredient in the concoctions contained in Lontar Taru Pramana.


This can be seen through several excerption regarding the use of isen, namely on page 8a of Lontar Taru Pramana which contains the following statement,

“Titiang blingbing, anggen tamba dekah, daun anggen simbuh, ra, isen kunyit, 3, iris. Babakan anggen loloh, ra, temu tis, katumbah limang besik.”


Furthermore, on page 10b of Lontar Taru Pramana the following statement is written,

“Titiang gendola, daging tis, akah tis, getah barah, ta, ngutah bayar, don titiange, 11, bidang anggen loloh, ra, cuka, isen, limang iris.”


Then, on page 12a Lontar Taru Pramana states the following statement,

“Titiang pancar sona daging anget, daun akah dumalada, dados tamba ngenyeb, ra, sulasih mrik, lunak tanek, isen tigang tebih, uyah areng, don titiange sane kuning ulig.”


If we look at several excerpts from the Lontar Taru Pramana above, isen plays an important role in completing the Balinese usadha ingredients. However, there is no herb or medicine that indicates isen as the main ingredient or staple in traditional medicine.


Even though isen is only used as an additional or complementary ingredient in medicine, the resulting mixture is able to treat many types of diseases. The use of isen as an additional ingredient for traditional medicine has been mentioned 11 times in Lontar usadha Tiwang, which discusses various types of tiwang diseases and their traditional treatments. Tiwang is a disease that has symptoms of the body feeling empty, aches and pains, restlessness, rolling eyes, stiff muscles, and even fainting.


Isen can be used as an additional ingredient to complement medicinal herbs, whether drunk or eaten, used to treat coughs and phlegm that is difficult to expel, and a throbbing solar plexus hard. However, the potion contains addition isen more often used as spat or powder, for example for treat Tiwang tuwedan (symptoms are body aches sick prickling, heartburn felt sick), tiwang bojog (symptoms form eyebrow nor his mouth moving around like movement monkey), tiwang mong, tiwang bantang (symptoms hand and convulsions in the legs and eyes glaring), and tiwang desti (symptoms body feels sick spare until to the feet).


In development technology and health, isen also has researched until published contain various type benefit for health, one of them is capable treating diabetes. In a studies state that isen own effect hinder metabolism carbohydrates and minimize spike glucose in blood. This is caused by the nutritional content in isen which is equivalent to synthetic antidiabetic drugs.


Thus, the existence of isen as a complementary ingredient for traditional medicine needs to be further developed, so that Balinese usadha remain sustainable amidst increasingly modern developments.