Masuk Angin: Is it real?

“So,” my friend said when I walked into the dance room, “Your body is not delicious?”

“Noooo. My body is really not delicious.” Then I switched to Indonesian. “I feel really weird.” Which was not a very good explanation but was about the only thing I could come up with.

“Maybe you have masuk angin.”

Masuk angin. The thought had crossed my mind. Masuk angin translates literally as something like the wind gets inside you. Pepole in Indonesia get masuk angin all the time. You ride your motorbike at night without a jacket? You get masuk angin. It’s really hot during the day but cold at night? You get masuk angin.

I’d always assumed that masuk angin was getting a cold. Still, there were also indicators that masuk angin was some new disease that Westerners had never experienced before. And I had certainly never felt quite this way before.

“Maybe,” I said. “But what does masuk angin feel like?”

I got the usual jumbled explanations that basically amounted to your body not feeling quite right.

My friend then said he was going to call his friend who was an expert in folk medicine. “Explain how you feel,” he said to me.

“Well,” I said, “I woke up this morning and felt weird. And I couldn’t tell if I was hungry or going to throw up or if I was just tired.” The feeling hadn’t changed since then.

My friend relayed all this over the phone, with the amusing addition that I was a foreigner and didn’t know what masuk angin felt like. He hung up and looked back at me. “You have masuk angin.”

“Okay,” I said. “So what do I do about it?”

He had two cures. The slow-acting one was to drink ginger tea. The faster one was to have a healthy person rub their hands together and then place them on my stomach. We tried the latter briefly, but stopped because the whole arrangement was a little too awkward.

So it was ginger tea. I pulled myself off the floor and drank some and did eventually feel better. Masuk angin cured or just a case of not enough sleep?

5 thoughts on “Masuk Angin: Is it real?

  1. Hahaha! I definitely think Masuk Angin exist, it is really hard to describe what it is.Some of my theory are 1.if you can get sun stroke why cant you get wind stroke? 2. It is almost like headache there are so many causes to it, but it is easier to describe, Most of the time it is when you forget to eat or the change of the air pressure.

    The other cure that your friend didnt tell you is Kerokan. :D

  2. I once had a masseuse burp during my entire massage because she was transferring the “bad wind” out of my body. I was told I was lucky to have her as a masseuse because she possessed a rare skill.

  3. Indonesians get ‘masuk angin’ very often, but I don’t really believe in it. It’s actually one’s body reaction towards any change to the body temperature, and is often caused by exposing certain body part to temperature lower than other parts. The way the body adjusts to this uneven distribution of heat creates those symptoms of ‘masuk angin’.

    However some Javanese people also believe in ‘angin duduk’, or the wind stays in your body. It is actually high-blood pressure, but some people just love to describe it in a more mundane way.

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