I guess every country has its own cure-all – a panacea for all manner of complaints, whether physical, emotional or, even, mental!The French swear by their distilled lovely-scented lavender flowers. The Chinese have their ginseng. The Japanese love their green tea. A German family I know reaches for their chamomile on every occasion, and not just for afternoon teas. Most recently, the acai berry has taken the US by storm for its ability to fight cancer, help in weight loss, and combat pre-mature ageing.
I myself have a first-aid kit filled with some of my own magic potions collected from all over the world – eucalyptus oil, Bach flower remedies, Echinacea liquid, and the usual assortment of cartoon-character plasters.
My husband scoffs at me (despite being run down by a severe cold) when I offer him a swig of my natural antiobiotic that is the Echinacea. Instead, he prefers to swallow his brand of remedy, the Malaysian gamat.
My husband is possibly the biggest fan of gamat there ever is. In our home, we have gamat in every form and consistency available – sweetened jellies, balms, creams, syrups, liniment, etc. It is his preferred antidote for everything!
Sprain? Rub some gamat.
Cough? Drink some gamat.
Headache? Here’s some gamat.
Tummy ache? Take some gamat.
I’m not sure if gamat is produced, or even popular, in our neighbouring countries. It seems to me as though it is a Malaysian-made product. In fact, if you consider the many advertisements and endorsements for it in Langkawi, the beautiful island up north, it looks as if gamat is specifically a made-in-Langkawi product!
Gamat is a type of sea cucumber found in the waters of Malaysia, and the most magical kind is the golden sea cucumber, stichopus horrens. Stories abound that if you cut a living gamat in half and throw it back into the sea, it will continue to grow and become two separate creatures! This ability to regenerate itself is the reason why gamat is so sought after here for its therapeutic, wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Oh, and among men, it is even more desired for its alleged Viagra-like results!
To prepare gamat for medicinal purposes, the golden sea cucumbers are harvested from the sea, dried and pounded into powder form. These are then simmered in oil to be made into liniment or infused in creams for cosmetic purposes.
Almost every shop in Langkawi sells gamat in one form or another. If there’s only one thing to bring home from a trip to Langkawi, make it gamat. It makes a great souvenir for the folks back home and an essential item for the first-aid kit. I’m not sure but maybe it’ll cure the jet lag, too!