Herbs, aromatherapy and natural medicines have long intrigued me. This is not to say I am opposed to traditional medicine, but when a forward thinking institution employs both, especially in western society, I am really impressed.
Herbs are an important part of many cultures including Thailand. Used to both enhance the flavours of food and as an essential part of Thai medicine to energize and balance the body one of the most interesting uses of herbs is found in Thai herbal massage.
Thai herbal massage incorporates a customized blend of Thai herbs bundled in muslin which are placed over steam, releasing the aromatic and therapeutic properties. Applied to the skin along with herbal massage oils, this massage stimulates the respiratory system while relieving tension and soreness for a relaxing and soothing experience. Thai herb bundles, known as lukprakob, incorporate a number of herbs such as: Aromatic Salisb, Derris Scandens Benth, Zingiber cassumunar, Cassumunar, Camphor, Borneo camphor, Cinnamon, Citronella, Cryptolepis buchannai roem, Curcuma aromatica salisb, Galangal, Lemon Grass, Kaffir lime, Leech lime, Wild Lime, Menthol, Patchouli, Prai Ginger, Tamarind leaves, and Turmeric oil.
It is thought that herbal massage was first introduced into Thailand by monks from India who established the first Buddhist monasteries around 200 B.C. However others believe it originated from rural folk medicine passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Whatever it’s true origin, Thai herbal massage has retained its popularity and is now being offered in many spas outside of Thailand.