Bali's Healing Herbs: How to Use Them for Wellness

Imagine the soothing sensation of a cup of hot herbal tea, steeped with the medicinal richness of Balinese herbs. These aromatic wonders from the lush tropics of Bali have been used for centuries by local healers, called 'Balian', to remedy a host of ailments and foster overall well-being. Through this guide, we aim to unlock the mysteries of these traditional remedies and illuminate how they can be a part of your personal wellness routine. 

"Balinese herbal medicine, locally known as 'Usada', is not just about healing; it's a way of life that brings harmony between the body, mind, and spirit. It represents the Balinese way of sustaining well-being in a natural and holistic manner."

This journey will delve into the vibrant world of healing Balinese herbs, exploring their magnificent properties, uses, and preparing techniques. It will take you through the gentle art of cultivating these herbs in your home garden and seamlessly incorporating them into your daily wellness regime. So, brace yourself for an extraordinary voyage deep into the heart of Bali's healing traditions.

Understanding the Power of Balinese Herbal Medicine

Imagine an island where traditional healers, known as Balian, outnumber modern physicians by a notable margin. This is a reality in Bali, a place where the power of healing lies not solely in laboratories and pharmacies, but in local herbal gardens and ancestral wisdom passed from generation to generation. This is the power of Balinese herbal medicine, a practice infused with incredible depth, cultural significance, and profound respect for nature. 

Balinese herbal medicine, or Usada Bali, is grounded in an ancient philosophy known as "Tri Hita Karana". This refers to maintaining harmony and balance between the human, the environment, and the divine. This philosophy is mirrored in illness and healing; an ailment is seen as a disturbance of this balance, and healing is the restoration thereof. 

One unique feature of Balinese medicine is its holistic approach. Unlike western medicine that often separates the mind from the body, Balinese healing traditions encompass both physical and spiritual health. This harmony is represented in practitioners addressing spiritual issues while modern physicians handle physical problems. Through a variety of healing techniques such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and massage, a healthy balance between physical and spiritual health is pursued. 

At the heart of Balinese herbal medicine is the use of herbs. For centuries, these plants have been powerful allies in health and wellness, used to treat everything from common ailments to more critical health complexities. Take for instance, the traditional herbal drink known as Balinese jamu. A blend of medicinal plants and spices, this drink is often used to enhance overall health, boost immunity, and address specific health concerns. 

From arak therapy – an ancient form of healing, to practices that manipulate energy flow such as Bali Energy Healing, and Reiki, the power of Balinese herbal medicine is all-encompassing. These practices go beyond addressing the symptoms; they target the root causes of illnesses and facilitate comprehensive healing. Indeed, Balinese herbal medicine is not just about herbs, it's about a philosophy that emphasizes balance, harmony, and the power of nature in healing.

bali healing herbs

Key Balinese Herbs and Their Healing Properties

Creating a firm foundation for understanding the potency of Balinese herbs requires familiarity with a few key players. Indeed, these herbs not only impart rich, exotic flavors to Balinese cuisine but also underpin the island's millennia-old healing traditions. 


Noted for its golden color and pungent flavor, turmeric is a star player in Balinese herbal remedies. But the benefits of this vibrant root extend beyond taste. Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin, celebrated for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, often used in managing pain, inflammation, and various chronic conditions. 


Another mainstay in Balinese traditional medicine, ginger is widely utilized for its medicinal properties. It's known to aid digestion, decrease nausea, and combat flu and common cold symptoms. Don't be surprised if a Balinese healer recommends ginger tea for your ailments! 


A close cousin of ginger, galangal is another potent root used often in Balinese healing practices. It is known to alleviate stomach discomfort, fight infections, and offer relief from arthritis. Conjuring up a slightly subtler flavor than ginger, galangal is often used in jamu, a traditional Balinese medicinal drink. 

Pandan Leaves 

Last but not least, let's explore pandan leaves. These unique, aromatic leaves are commonly used in Balinese cooking and traditional medicine. The leaves are believed to alleviate headache, bring down fever, and improve overall health with their natural antiseptic properties. 

Each of these herbs offers unique health benefits and collectively, they form the basis of Balinese traditional healing practices. In the following sections, we'll look closely at how to grow these herbs at home, how to prepare and use them for healing, and how to integrate them into your daily wellness routine.

Cultivating Balinese Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

Embarking on a healing journey with Balinese herbs is not only about their consumption, but engaging in their cultivation, too. By having your little herbal garden, you're granted the privilege of immediate, fresh access to these potent herbs right at your fingertips. 

Choosing Your Herbs 

To begin with, you need to decide which herbs you want to plant. The herbs you select may depend on your wellness needs, their adaptability to the climate of your grow location, and how easy they are to grow for beginners. Turmeric, ginger, and galangal are some common herbs you might start with. Take note that some herbs might require special growing conditions, so it's crucial to research this aspect beforehand. 

Selecting the Right Soil 

Another vital factor is the type of soil used. Balinese herbs typically thrive in rich, fertile soil that is well-drained. The soil's pH level must also be suitable for the herbs you intend to plant, as some may prefer acidic or alkaline soil. 

Setting Up the Growing Environment 

After settling on the herbs and preparing the soil, you'll need to set up a suitable growing environment. Most Balinese herbs appreciate plenty of sunshine, so try to place your garden in a spot that gets lots of light. Some may also grow better if they have some shelter when the sun is most intense, so keep this in mind. 

Maintaining Your Herbal Garden 

Once your herbs are planted, they'll need regular watering, pruning, and general care to ensure they remain healthy. Every herb carries different watering needs – some requiring frequent watering, while others are more drought-tolerant. Pruning also helps the plants focus their energy on growing new, healthy leaves. Also, be proactive in combating any pests or diseases, as an infestation can quickly compromise your herbal garden's health. 

In all, the art of cultivating Balinese herbs is an enjoyable and rewarding endeavor. As you become more comfortable and experienced in your gardening journey, you can gradually add more diverse herbs to your garden, furthering your exploration of Balinese healing practices.

bali healing herbs

How to Prepare and Use Balinese Healing Herbs

Preparing and using Balinese healing herbs connects you to the wisdom of traditional herbalists. Whether it's your first attempt or you're honing your herbal skills, adapting these practices can be empowering and rewarding. 

Generally, the preparation of Balinese healing herbs begins with careful selection and thorough cleaning. Many are used topically for their healing effects. To apply your healing herb topically, grind the fresh herb into a paste, similar to the jamu preparation. Apply this paste directly to the affected area of your body. This method of application is particularly beneficial for skin conditions, pains, and inflammations. 

Remember, it's vital always to patch test a small amount on your skin before broader application. This precaution helps you ensure you don't have an adverse reaction to any of the herbs. 

A Word of Caution 

While Balinese healing herbs have been trusted for centuries, it's important to remember that everybody's body is unique. What works for one person may not work for another, and sometimes, some people may experience side effects. Therefore, starting small to track your body's response and consulting with a healthcare professional, particularly if you're dealing with a serious health condition or are pregnant, is crucial. 

In conclusion, the preparation and use of Balinese healing herbs is an enriching experience and can certainly play a powerful role in nurturing your health and wellness. Embrace it mindfully and savor the journey of learning and healing.

Incorporating Balinese Herbs into Your Daily Wellness Regime

Embracing the time-honored wisdom of Balinese herbs in your daily wellness regime can be a life-changing experience. Known for their exceptional healing properties, these potent herbs can help in fortifying your health in several ways, both physically and emotionally. Encapsulating the essence of Bali's abundant nature, adopting these medicinal wonders goes beyond simple healing—it's a holistic way to nourish your body, spirit, and mind. 

Let's begin with the elemental Balinese herb-infused drink, jamu. This traditional concoction has been a radiant beacon of Balinese health for centuries. Made from several medicinal herbs and plants, jamu is highly appreciated for its inherent healing powers and immunity-boosting properties. So, a warming cup of jamu to start your day could make a significant difference to your overall well-being. 

Apart from drinking the potent jamu, incorporating herbs into your meals is another exciting way to benefit from their healing powers. Add a pinch of turmeric to your curries, or a slice of ginger to your tea. How about infusing your favorite dishes with the unique flavor of galangal? Or using pandan leaves for preparing delicious Balinese desserts at home? The possibilities are endless when you let these marvelous Balinese herbs enchant your kitchen. 

Similarly, if you're seeking a refreshing end to your day while also doing something beneficial for your body, consider indulging in arak therapy. This traditional Balinese method of healing involves the consumption of arak, a local spirit, to stimulate the body's natural healing process. However, moderation is key as excessive consumption can counteract its healing effects. 

Moreover, pursuing the holistic practices of Balinese traditional medicine, like Balian, Usada Bali, or Reiki, can effectively harmonize your energy flow. Opting for services of traditional Balinese healers like Mr. Ketut Arsana at Ubud Bodyworks Centre, or trying therapies that complement the use of healing herbs, can provide profound transformations on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. 

Finally, don't forget to carve out moments for mindful meditation in your daily routine. Balinese healing practices remind us that wellness isn't solely about what we consume. It's also about nurturing our spirit, mind, and emotions. Practicing regular meditation could help you foster deeper connections with yourself, promoting an inner sense of peace and balance. 

Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your wellness routine or starting any new therapies, especially if you're managing particular health conditions or taking medications.

So go ahead, bring a slice of Bali into your life by integrating these incredible healing herbs and practices into your daily wellness regime. Experience the healing magic of Balinese herbs, and allow your soul to flourish amidst their nurturing care.


We understand you may have additional questions about Balinese herbs and how to utilize them for healing and wellness. This FAQ section is designed to answer these queries and dispel any doubts. Here, we've gathered the most frequently asked questions about Balinese herbs and their practical use. Dive in to learn more!

What are the most common healing herbs used in Bali?

The most commonly utilized healing herbs in Bali encompass a variety of plants and roots that have been traditionally recognized for their potent medicinal properties. These include, but are not limited to, turmeric, known for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits; ginger, a powerhouse root used to alleviate digestive problems and reduce inflammation; galangal, a close relative of ginger that's abundantly used in Balinese cuisine and traditional medicine for its overall health benefits; and pandan leaves, which are celebrated for their calming and cooling effects. 

First and foremost is Turmeric, cherished for its pronounced anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This bright yellow spice is a mainstay in Balinese traditional healing, known to fortify the immune system and combat a variety of ailments. 

Ginger, a common ingredient in many households worldwide, holds a special place in Balinese traditional medicine. Its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics can alleviate numerous health issues from digestive problems to inflammation. 

Galangal, a root spice closely related to ginger, is frequently used in Balinese traditional medicine. Its diverse health benefits range from treating digestive and respiratory complaints to various skin issues. 

The Pandan leaves, known for their calming and cooling effects, are a precious commodity in Bali. These leaves are not only vital ingredients in many Balinese dishes, but also known to enhance sleep quality, aid digestion, and reduce inflammation and pain. 

To bolster their health and wellbeing, many Balinese people incorporate these herbs in their daily regimen, be it through their food, herbal drinks like Jamu, or topical applications. 

What are the health benefits of Balinese herbs?

Given their rich medicinal properties, Balinese herbs offer a wealth of health benefits. They serve as natural remedies for a variety of ailments, contributing to overall wellbeing and aiding in the prevention and treatment of specific health issues. 

A common element in most Balinese herbs is their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help combat internal and external inflammation, leading to improved immune health. For instance, pandan leaves are known for their calming and cooling effects that aid digestion, improve sleep, and reduce inflammation. 

Lemongrass is another popular herb used frequently in Balinese traditional remedies. Its fragrant scent not only adds a unique flavor to Bali's cuisine but also provides multiple health benefits. Due to its antimicrobial properties, lemongrass can help protect the body against harmful microbes and bacteria. Additionally, it has been found effective in relieving headaches, soothing digestive issues, and reducing stress levels. 

Ginger, with its warm, zesty flavor, is an integral part of Balinese healing practices. It particularly helps in enhancing circulation, aiding digestion, and relieving nausea. Moreover, a dip in the sacred hot springs of Bali, often infused with ginger, offers skin rejuvenation and brings a sense of tranquility. 

Lastly, the holistic approach to healing in Balinese culture goes beyond merely physical benefits. The integration of Balinese herbs into daily wellness practices often includes spiritual elements like meditation and yoga, contributing to mental health benefits like stress reduction, improved focus, and a sense of tranquility.

Where can I buy Balinese healing herbs?

You're probably thinking, "where can I find these wonder herbs?" The answer is, it's easier than you might think. 

Balinese healing herbs are easily accessible no matter where you’re located. Of course, the most traditional way of purchasing these herbs is through local markets in Bali itself. If you’re planning a trip, don't forget to pay the island’s traditional markets a visit. They offer a variety and freshness that may be hard to top in other markets. It would also serve as an ideal place to familiarize yourself with the unique properties, aromas, and textures of these potent herbs. 

But, if Bali isn't on your travel itinerary anytime soon, no worries. You can also find Balinese herbs in local health food stores and online as well. Several online retailers stock a range of Balinese herbs and deliver globally. Just be sure to purchase from a trusted source so you know you’re getting an authentic product. 

Interestingly enough, should you find yourself in Bali, several restaurants and cafes also include these medicinal herbs in their menu items. You could get a first-hand experience of the benefits while savoring the delightful local cuisine! 

And lastly, if you’re inquisitive about learning and experiencing the traditional process of healing, consider booking a trip to meet a traditional Balinese healer. The Bali Res Centre provides expert advice to help you organize such a trip. It’s a unique experience that provides a rare glimpse into the profound knowledge and healing techniques of the Balinese cultures.

Are there any potential side effects of using Balinese herbs?

The application of Balinese herbs in traditional healing practices can be an enriching and potent part of personal wellness rituals. However, like all substances that have a profound effect on our bodies, it's crucial to be informed about potential side effects and interactions these herbs might have. 

Firstly, although Balinese herbs are generally considered safe, some individuals may experience allergic reactions when ingesting or applying them on their skin. These can range from mild, such as itching or rash, to severe, such as anaphylaxis. If you have known allergies, be mindful and ensure to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating Balinese herbs into your regime. 

Secondly, some Balinese herbs like Turmeric and Ginger, may interact with medication, including blood thinners. This can lead to unexpected side effects, including an excess risk of bleeding. Therefore, always discuss your current medication regimen with a medical professional before introducing new herbs.

Lastly, each herb has specific dosing recommendations to reap their healing benefits without risking toxicity or unwarranted side effects. For instance, consuming large quantities of some herbs, like Lemongrass, can lead to stomach upset or increased heart rate. Therefore, while herbs are a natural form of treatment, moderation and appropriate dosing are key to safe, effective use. 

Remember, Balinese traditional medicine should complement, not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new wellness or treatment regimen, particularly if you have existing health conditions.

How to store and preserve Balinese herbs?

Storing and preserving Balinese herbs in the correct manner is an integral part of maintaining their healing efficiencies. Specifically, the process may slightly vary depending on the herb, but generally, you can follow these steps for most: 

Drying: Essentially, herbal plants should be dried properly before they're stored. To dry them, first, wash the herbs gently under cold running water. Then, pat dry with a towel. To maintain the color and flavor, you might want to air dry them by hanging them upside down in a warm, aerated, and dimly lit location. 

Storing: Once completely dried, store the herbs in an airtight container. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids or vacuum-seal bags are good options. It's also essential you keep these containers in a dark, dry, and cool spot, away from direct sunlight and moisture. High temperatures and sunlight can degrade the herbs' medicinal properties. 

Rehydration: When you're ready to use the herbs, you might need to rehydrate them. You can do this by soaking the herbs in a small amount of water. Just ensure that the water is at room temperature to prevent any possible degradation of healing properties. 

Remember, proper preservation of herbs ensures you're maximizing the potent beneficial compounds within them. It's always worth the extra effort to store and preserve these powerful plants with care to reap their full healing potential. Just follow this guide, and you'll have a supply of healing Balinese herbs ready whenever you need them.