Herbal health: Singapore start-up creates new Jamu drink for diabetics to manage blood sugar levels

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The products are sold in 500mL or 1L sizes. ©JAMU by Dana Safia
The products are sold in 500mL or 1L sizes. ©JAMU by Dana Safia

Related tags: jamu, Herbal, Diabetes, Blood sugar

A Singapore start-up is aiming to build on the traditional heritage of jamu, a herbal drink from Indonesia, with a range of new products, including one for diabetics.

Jamu contains a combination of herbs and spices including leaves, seeds, fruits, barks and flowers. Some jamu products also contain honey, milk and other animal-derived ingredients.

Users of jamu swear by this traditional remedy to boost immunity, provide energy, and improving digestion.

It is often sold by small traders in markets, as well by established, major firms such as Sido Muncul.

Now JAMU by Dana Safia has been launched in Singapore. Safia founded the company in January 2021 with the aim to make jamu for different consumer groups because, “every biological system is different, and traditionally, most small vendors and larger players don't serve specific demographics​.”

The firm first launched its jamu series for men and women, brewed with ingredients said to help improve cognitive function, digestion, prevent inflammation, boost immune system and vitality.

The ingredients in the jamu for women comprise of turmeric, nutmeg, tamarind, red ginger, betel leaf, black pepper, palm sugar and more.

The men’s recipe contains a combination of three different types of ginger - Javanese ginger, red ginger and Chinese ginger, alongside fenugreek, cardamom, betel leaf and black pepper.

Jamu 2

This month, it is launching a new jamu product targeted at people with diabetes.

Called Glushot, it will contain papaya seed, Javanese ginger, cat whiskers plant, turmeric, and red ginger, said to help people manage their sugar levels.

Each ingredient serves different functions, for instance turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties, and ginger is known for its antioxidant properties.

Jamu and COVID-19 rumours

Top government officials in Indonesia, including President Joko Widodo, promoted jamu consumption in the early phase of the COVID-19 outbreak last year, claiming it can boost the immune system.

Safia, however, was quick to add: Jamu is never a cure. It can be a prevention, for example, if you drink jamu regularly, it boosts your immune system, and help you fight the symptoms of infection.”

Business strategy

Safia said her jamu formula was based on her family recipe, which she has repackaged for modern consumers.

It was in the middle of the pandemic when I first started thinking about how I can share health and wellness to the public. I personally consume Jamu and it has boosted my immune system, improve my cognitive and digestive functions, and helped me maintain good health​.”

Safia sources ingredients from Indonesia, India and China, with the final product manufactured in Singapore.

The products are sold in 500mL or 1L sizes. Safia recommends a daily dose of 60mL to 80mL. “For people who are drinking jamu for the first time, they may notice a slight bitterness to the drink​.”

Currently, it only retails on its online store and as of September sold 2,101 bottles.

About 76.5% of its customers are females, and most are their 30s to mid-40s.

In Singapore, Safia hopes to list in supermarkets, gyms and wellness places. There are also plans for exports, if cold chain challenges can be overcome, as well as hopes to build a factory in Malaysia to boost trade there.

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