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The Awareness of Critical Points of Halal Herbal Medicine

Jamu or herbal medicine is being traded again, especially amid the outbreak of the corona virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Since herbal medicine has various properties and believed to be able to overcome certain diseases and increase immunity. Moreover, many people believe that the consumption of herbal medicine has fewer side effects than chemical drugs. Is there any critical point of its halalness?

In Indonesia, jamu or herbal medicine is produced by utilizing a variety of plants and spices which are believed to have many benefits, such as ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, and so on. Basically, plants or spices are included in the positive list. However, it will be a different story if these materials undergo processing.

There are several things that need to be considered in the production of herbal medicine, especially if it has undergone a special processing process, such as factory production. Let us review them one by one.

The first thing to make sure is the halalness of the ingredients. Undeniable, that plants and spices go through various processes that require other ingredients to help the success of the process. Some auxiliary materials come from animals and it must be ensured that these auxiliary materials come from halal animals slaughtered in line with sharia.

What also needs to be considered, there are herbs that use a mixture of ingredients from wild animal organs. So that the status of its halalness can be doubted, or even haram for consumption by Muslims.

Ir. Muti Arintawati, M.Sc., Vice Director of LPPOM MUI, explained, there are herbal herbs from China, which are widely used for patients after major surgery. For example, for mothers after C-section surgery, or patients with appendicitis. It is said that consuming herbal medicine or traditional Chinese medicine can speed up wound healing.

“After the ingredient content of the material is read carefully, it turns out, herbs or herbal medications called it contain animal ingredients as well. Among them are snake blood, crocodile fish, tiger nails, bear hearts, and so on,” said Muti.

The next critical point is the capsule shell. With the development of technology, nowadays many herbs have been put into the capsule shell. Basically, the capsule shell is made from gelatin. Unfortunately, most of the gelatin ingredients come from animals.

When it comes to gelatin, there are many things that must be considered. Gelatin is a protein derived compound obtained by extracting animal collagen. “Until now, there are no producers that produce collagen commercially in Indonesia. Nearly 60% of the world’s use of collagen and gelatine comes from pigs,” said Dr. Mala Nurimala, S.Pi., M.Si., Lecturer at the Department of Aquatic Product Technology, Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Bogor Agricultural University as well as a researcher at the IPB Halal Science Center.

There are two ways to extract collagen into gelatin, namely by acidification and enzymatic. The enzymatic extraction process needs to be explored further because it requires a protease enzyme that can break down protein. Unfortunately, so far, the protease enzymes that are widely sold come from pigs, such as pepsin.

The herbal medicine production facility is also noteworthy. “Some companies use third party facilities. These third parties may receive orders not only from one company. This means that one factory can produce for ten companies,” explained Muti.

Muti continued that there is a possibility that in one factory there are products made from halal ingredients, while some contain unclean ingredients. If there are contaminants, it can cause products that were previously halal to become contaminated with unclean, so that the law becomes non-halal.

Based on sharia, it is actually very easy to determine the halalness of a drug. This is especially true for herbs and herbal medicines, where all plants (except those that are harmful) are guaranteed to be halal for consumption.

However, the involvement of rapidly developing technology and free trade makes this assessment difficult. There are many aspects that must be fulfilled and studied by experts before traditional medicines and herbal medicine are declared halal.

It is obvious that herbal medicine must be examined with a halal certification process, to ensure that all ingredients and production processes are halal according to sharia rules. (YN) 

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