Thai Hot Compress
photo property of Jules Kumar, 2019
*the following written information is credited to traditionalbodywork.com and is for informational purposes only
What is it?
The Thai healing medicine practice of Hot Herbal Compress Massage Treatments & Therapy goes back to the ancient knowledge of healing properties of plants and herbs and their application on the body.
Thai herbal treatments are used to soothe and to relieve pain and inflammations. Important in the application are the selection of herbs with therapeutic qualities, such as plai, ginger, turmeric, kaffir lime, camphor, tamarind and lemongrass. A mix of herbs is wrapped in a compress, then steamed (in bamboo or electrical steamer) and when hot, applied to the body by pressing or gliding in circular, linear and/or rolling movements.
In Thailand, the compress is called Luk Pra Kob. Treatments are very popular in Thailand, can be obtained virtually everywhere, and popularity is rapidly increasing in Western countries. Herbs used are generally easy to find and the treatments are effective. It’s the heat, by steaming, that is said to release both the aromatic and medicinal properties of a compress.
It’s believed by some that hot herbal compress massage was first introduced by Indian monks in Thailand at the time of the gradual spreading of Buddhism. Others say that Luk Pra Kob simply originated from local folk medicine and recipes were passed on from generation to generation for thousand of years.
The technique can offer a variety of health benefits such as stress relief, relaxation, alleviating fatigue, soothing muscles, tendons and ligament pains and soreness, increase of emotional and physical well-being, improvement of blood circulation and lymph and internal organs stimulation and massage. Based on my own experience, Thai herbal compress is espeically good for myofascial release and fibromyalgia.
What's in the compress?
The compresses I use come straight from Thailand
and consist of freshly dried organic herbs grown in the
mountains of Thailand. The woman who grows them is
so particular about the quality that she will not even
allow a moped or scooter up to the garden site in order
to prevent any possibility of contamination from the
exhaust of the scooters. It is only accessible by bike or
The herbs in these are as follows:
Camphor: cooling, tingling, helps to invigorate the skin; anti-inflammatory for joint pain and is used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases. (*to note, check with your doctor if you have chronic inflammatory skin conditions that may be cautioned or contraindicated)
Lemongrass: antiseptic properties to help clear up the skin; removes toxins and helps to relieve indigestion when applied to the abdomen; also good for asthma;
Turmeric: antiseptic; helps to soothe and cleanse irritated skin and itching, enhances softness and smoothness (in this application it will not turn your skin orange)
Plai: this ginger is a natural moisturizer that relieves muscular aches and pains while softening the skin; very good for intense pain;
Kaffir lime: helps to tone the skin; also used to relieve pain in the abdomen;
Tamarind leaf: helps the skin to absorb the other herbal ingredient faster;
Menthol: "Pimsen" in Thai, this mineral has a sharp mint smell similar to camphor; refreshing smell helping to ease respiratory problems, coughs, and blocked sinuses;
Ginger Root: improves circulation, stimulates energy, and relaxes muscles;
Jasmine: relaxes the mind, decreases stress and mental disturbance;
Sea salt: used to absorb heat and carries the absorption of the herbal effect through the skin;
It is recommended to wait at least 2 hours before bathing after this type of massage to allow the benefits of the herbs to permeate the skin.
There is a charge of $25 for a pair, they are exclusively yours and not shared among clients. They will last for 6-10 massages before the herbs are spent.