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Thai Herbal Compress Massage : Ancient Healing Benefits & What to Expect

Originating in Thailand, Thai Herbal Compress Massage is an alternative therapy applied to the body’s soft tissues, including muscles and fascia, and helps in relieving stress, enhancing sleep quality, promoting blood circulation, and also improve overall well-being. There are many other benefits of this herbal heat therapy. Let us read further to know more about these benefits.

Thai Herbal Compress Massage: A Brief Note!

Thai herbal compress massage is an ancient traditional medical procedure in Thailand that uses heated herbal compresses that are rhythmically and gently administered to the body. A Thai herbal compress is made of a concoction of aromatic herbs that make it a healing treatment. The herbs used in the compress have enormous therapeutic benefits and help to ease pain, attain relaxation, and improve overall well-being. This is a wonderful option for people seeking to unwind and refresh because this Thai herbal compress massage offers a wealth of physical and mental benefits.

Herbal compresses, also known as “Luk Prakob” in Thai are being used in Thailand for several years in conjunction with traditional massage or as a stand-alone therapy.(1) Thai herbal compress massage was approved and listed in the National List of Essential Medicines for relieving muscle sprains and muscular and joint pain.(2) Now, herbal compress service is offered for therapeutic and rehabilitative purposes in many public health service facilities in Thailand. Moreover, hot herbal compress is also commonly found in the spa industry in Thailand and also abroad.(3)

Some Herbs Used in Thai Herbal Compress Massage

Usually, the main herbs used in most herbal compresses include Plai or Cassumunar ginger, turmeric, and camphor. These herbal ingredients have long been used partly or solely for treating various inflammatory diseases in several traditional medicines including Ayurveda.(4) Findings from many published literature have also mentioned the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Cassumunar ginger, turmeric, and camphor.(5, 6, 7)

Some herbs used in the Thai herbal compress massage are curcumin, camphor, ginger, pandan leaves, spider lily, mango ginger, bergamot, tamarind, lemongrass, and shikakai. All these herbs have their special therapeutic benefits that altogether make this herbal compress massage an effective traditional treatment for physical and mental health.

How to Make and Use the Herbal Compress?

The unique combination of therapeutic herbs and heat work efficiently to relax and invigorate the mind and body, soothing sore and overworked muscles while enhancing your energy and reducing pain and inflammation.

Applying herbal compress is generally incorporated into traditional Thai massage. A therapist uses a muslin cloth that is packed with several herbs, rolled up, and steamed until piping hot. Then, using this cloth with a combination of herbs or the compress, the therapist presses the cloth directly on your skin where the area needs to be treated.

The area treated depends on the type of massage that you might have booked, for instance, if you booked a full-body Thai herbal compress massage, your entire body will be treated. However, if you ordered a neck and shoulders massage, then you should expect that the therapist would focus particularly only on these areas. 

Benefits of Herbal Heat Therapy or Thai Herbal Compress Massage

Thai herbal compress massage, also known as herbal heat therapy, has gained popularity due to the profound physical and mental benefits it offers. Let us take a look at some of these benefits.

  1. It Reduces Pain and Stiffness in Muscles

The heat and pressure from the herbal compress act together to relax tense muscles, reduce muscle stiffness and pain, and increase flexibility. The use of numerous healing herbs like mango ginger, turmeric, prai, lemongrass, camphor, and tamarind, together in the herbal compress work exceptionally in reducing inflammation and calming muscle throbs. It is effective in treating joint inflammation too and helps to soothe body pain.

A total of thirteen studies involving 778 patients were selected from 369 articles and the overall effects of Thai herbal compress on reducing osteoarthritis (OA) and also muscle pain were similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, knee exercise, and hot compress. However, there was a higher rate of reduction of pain related to osteoarthritis in the herbal compress group than in any other method.(8)

  1. Herbal Heat Therapy Increases Blood Circulation

Herbal heat therapy increases blood circulation and benefits the body. The heat and pressure from the herbal compress work to increase blood flow, promotes oxygen delivery to the muscles, and facilitate the body’s clearance of toxins. The ginger present in the herbal compress is an incredible energizer that increases circulation. Ginger and other herbs also help in reducing muscle tension, healing, and brings an improved immune system.

  1. It is known to Enhance the Functioning of the Immune System

The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities of the herbs included in the compress can aid to strengthen the immune system and enhance general health.

  1. Herbal Heat Therapy Increases Respiratory Health

Nasal congestion can be cleared out, deep breathing is encouraged, and general respiratory health can be improved by the aroma of the herbs included in the compress.

  1. Herbal Heat Therapy Heals Wounds and Treats Irritation

Curcumin, a crucial active ingredient in turmeric, possesses strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that aid wound healing.

In Indonesia, the heated leaves of the spider lily have been traditionally used to treat inflammation and swelling caused by arrow wounds, as well as stings and bites. 

  1. It is Beneficial in Reducing Stress and Anxiety

The Thai herbal compress massage, which is a combination of heat, herbs, aromatherapy, and pressure, can help in promoting relaxation, reduce anxiety and tension, and also improve your general mental health.

Lemongrass used as a herb in this traditional herbal heat therapy from Thailand is a mitigating and stimulating specialist that clears your head and helps in refreshing the mind. Camphor is an element that reduces agony and aggravation. Similarly, bergamot is a herb that is used in treating colds and cerebral pains and also helps in reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety. So, it can be rightly said that herbal heat therapy is extremely beneficial in lowering stress and anxiety and is great for our mental health.

  1. Herbal Heat Therapy Cures Cold and Sinus Problems

This herbal heat therapy is a blend of various herbs that helps in treating sinus blockage and can fix the typical cold, and also make in reducing migraines. So, trying out this therapy, especially during cold and influenza season could be quite effective in diminishing the ill effects of bronchitis, cold, asthma, or other respiratory diseases.

The steamed spices or herbs like peppermint, cloves, and eucalyptus fill your nose with relieving fragrances that calm you up, the warm compress massage on your back would help get your blood flowing and helps you feel refreshed.

  1. Herbal Heat Therapy is Good for Skin Health

Another health benefit of herbal heat therapy is that it is great for your skin. Tamarind used in the compress is beneficial in hydrating and lightening up the skin because it is packed with antioxidants. Moreover, the pandan leaves also help in treating several skin conditions.

  1. Herbal Heat Therapy Promotes Hair Health

Herbal heat therapy is known to promote hair health. Shikakai found in the compress along with some other herbs is used for treating dandruff and improve hair health. It also treats skin afflictions like scabs because of its antiseptic qualities.

  1. Thai Herbal Compress Massage is a Total Body Treatment

This is a special procedure referred to around the globe as a complete, healthy treatment for the entire body. It is so because it consolidates fragrant healing, warm, and natural treatment, and back rubs all into a solitary effective treatment. Thai herbal compress massage gives you a plethora of health benefits to the full body and that is the reason why this therapy is considered to be a total body treatment.

What to Expect from an Average Thai Herbal Compress Massage?

An average session of a Thai herbal compress massage usually lasts sixty to ninety minutes. Usually, the session begins with a discussion of any underlying health problem, painful, or tense spots in or on your body, or any other health issues. After that, your therapist would lead you through the massage, while employing herbal compresses and a few other methods of massaging for generating a soothing and therapeutic atmosphere.

The aroma of the herbs and the warmth of the herbal compress would help in promoting relaxation and reducing your stress. You should let your therapist know if the heat or pressure from the Thai herbal compress massage seems to be uncomfortable throughout the session. You should expect that after the massage, you will feel relaxed and re-energized.


Thai herbal compress massage is a unique and age-old therapy that is a combination of the therapeutic effects of herbs, heat, and massage and offers a lot of mental and physical health benefits. Most of us can be benefited from this amazingly effective gentle, and non-invasive massage therapy. The excellent health benefits of Thai herbal compress massage, such as easing muscle tension and pain, promoting the functions of the immune system, enhancing respiratory health, promoting skin and hair health, increasing blood circulation, reducing stress and anxiety, and more, make this traditional therapy from Thailand one of the most popular therapies today.

Generally, Thai herbal compress massage is a safe and efficient therapy that can ease stress, pain, discomfort, and support relaxation and enhance overall well-being. However, if you are suffering from any ill-health condition and are willing to try this therapy, make sure to speak with your doctor before beginning the therapy.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 21, 2023

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