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  • 4 years later...

Imagine lying in total relaxation. The aromatic tang of lemongrass fills the air along with other fragrant herbs you can't identify. You feel a warm luscious pressure on that part of your back that was aching. And the pain melts away. The delicious pressure moves away and works its magic on another stiff spot. And you think you're in heaven. What you're experiencing is massage with a Thai herbal compress. Nowadays a refreshing and restoring technique, this method of therapy with steamed herbs originated in troubled times.


Centuries ago, Siam was in continual conflict with neighboring Burma and many savage wars and battles were fought. After the fighting died down, young women would enter the battle field to care for the wounded. One of their major methods of first aid was applying herbal compresses. These could be hot to soothe aching muscle or cold to reduce swellings and stop bleeding. Nowadays, therapists and beauticians use herb filled packs for far more peaceful means in spas and massage salons across Thailand.


Often used as part of a traditional Thai massage, herbal compresses are used therapeutically to treat pains and sprains and cosmetically to soften and tone the skin.


A herbal compress is simply a cloth bundle containing herbs. This is then steamed to release the scent and potency of the ingredients. When the temperature is cool enough, it is applied to the body as part of a massage routine.


At their most basic, compresses can be just used as heating pads to apply to sore muscles. However at their most potent, they are applied to the acupuncture points of the body. Here they work to free up congested pathways and allow the free flow of energy around the body. According to the tenets of traditional Thai medicine, blockage of these pathways are causes of disease and bodily malfunction.


Herbal compresses can be stimulating or relaxing as needed. Applied to certain traditional energy points, they can spur energy flow and boost circulation. Applied to other points, they can induce profound relaxation.


A myriad herbs or blend of herbs can be used in compresses. For some conditions, a single herb is used but a blend is more common. It all depends on the purpose of the compress
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For example, if you need a tonic, use a hot herb such as ginger. Hot herbs boost the circulation. If you're feeling low, use an aromatic herb such as eucalyptus. For your skin, use a sour herb such as tamarind. Sour herbs work to cleanse the skin, enhance skin tone and open the pores. If you want a moisturizing effect, dip the compress in a fragrant oil first. The possibilities are endless.



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