Cleansing your way to good health with 'gurah'
If you suffer from sinusitis or asthma and have lost hope of ever finding a cure, you might consider taking a trip to Giriloyo hamlet in Imogiri, Bantul regency, Yogyakarta.
This hamlet is popular for gurah -- a traditional health treatment that cleanses the upper respiratory tract, and which is believed to be able to cure sinusitis effectively at a low cost.
The treatment, which uses traditional herbal ingredients, including the roots of the Sirgungu plant (Cherodentum serratum), is believed to also be effective in the treatment of health problems like asthma and migraine and is also known to clear the voice; a claim that has tempted many singers to give it a try.
The gurah treatment is quite simple: Ground and mixed herbal ingredients are inserted in the patient's nose while he or she is laying down. The patient is then turned around and lays flat on their stomach.
Not long after turning over, mucus starts to come from the patient's mouth. This is followed by teardrops, as if the person is crying, and finally, mucus also comes out from the patient's nose.
The bed the patient lays on has been designed with an opening where the head is placed; a sand-filled bucket is placed underneath to absorb the mucus.
When The Jakarta Post tried the treatment at Ali Sarpan's gurah clinic in Giriloyo, the herbal mix tasted bitter. When swallowed, it caused pain, leaving a hot sensation in the nose, eyes and ears that lasted for about five minutes.
Ali Sarpan said the two-hour treatment was believed to be developed by the late Marzuki back in the 1940s. At that time, the practice was used to assist qari and qariah -- male and female reciters of the Koran -- in Marzuki's pesantren (Islamic boarding school) to give them clear voices to read the Koran.
He said Marzuki had passed the practice on to his three students -- Ali Sarpan, H Hisyam and the late Wajidi.
"I used to suffer from migraines and felt dizzy when I stood up. Since I started the gurah treatments, I've not had another migraine," said Mas'oed, a fan of the traditional medication.
Another regular patient, Irawan, seeks gurah treatment whenever he is not feeling well. He has done so for the past four years.
Before trying the treatment, he said, he had experienced trouble breathing and regularly suffered headaches: But now, those problems were in the past.
"The cost of the treatment is rather inexpensive, too ... a client needs only paid what he or she can afford," Irawan said.
He added if a patient had money, he or she would pay Rp 100,000, but if not, Rp 50,000 was enough.
It is not only the local residents who seek the gurah treatment; many government officials, famous singers and foreigners have also tried the traditional remedy.
"Singers like Iwan Fals and Arman Maulana have tried the treatment here," said Hisyam, one of Giriloyo's gurah practitioners, who has been in the business for 17 years.
He said he had lost count of the number of government officials who had come to him for the gurah treatment.
Hisyam even claims he was invited by the late president Soeharto's Cendana family to perform the treatment, and had twice treated former Jakarta governor Sutiyoso.
The father of four said he also had many foreign patients from Australia, Russia, Switzerland and the U.S., most of whom sought treatment for sinusitis.
Hisyam has received many awards, including from Yogyakarta's Health office, for his services in the development of traditional health remedies.
Before administering the treatment, practitioners first pray to God to ask for the patient's quick recovery.
"The treatment is just an instrument ... the recovery is all in God's hand," said Hisyam.