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What is a Herbal Compress massage?

TW image of a man receiving a Herbal Compress massage

A Herbal Compress massage (Luk Pra Kob) uses a hot compress comprised of medicinal herbs wrapped in cotton to work the sen lines.

The word Luk Pra Kob translates as “pressing herbal sphere.” The compress is made from air-dried or mixed fresh herbs in a specific ratio and bound in an unbleached cotton cloth. The compress is steamed at temperatures around 80 to 100 degrees Celcius, allowing the essential oils to evaporate into the cotton cloth.

In a typical Herbal Compress treatment, the Thai massage therapist begins at the feet and works up the body, similar to a traditional Thai massage. The therapist presses the heated Herbal Compress along energy channels called sen lines.

The essential oils and heat in the Herbal Compress transfer to the recipient’s body. Since these oils benefit the skin, it is best not to shower for three or four hours after a Herbal Compress treatment.

Herbal compresses can also be used during a traditional Thai massage to help relax the client and to increase the effectiveness of the acupressure and stretches.

Benefits

The Thai Herbal Compress treatment has five main benefits for the receiver. First, the thermal effect of the hot compress increases the local dilation of tiny blood capillaries that, in turn, increases the absorption rate of the herbs oil. The increased dilation helps relieve muscle aches and pains.

Second, the physical compression of the tissue during a Herbal Compress treatment increases circulation depth, which helps release blockages in the energy channels. When applied to the abdomen, the compression reduces indigestion. The physical application also improves the appearance of the skin, stimulates Lymphatic drainage and reduces muscular tension.

Third, the typical ingredients of Herbal Compress have an anti-inflammatory effect. The oils of the various herbs reduce swelling and help to maintain tissue/fluid balance.

Fourth, a Herbal Compress treatment will nourish the skin and help to mend sun-damaged skin.

Finally, the Herbal Compress treatment has an aromatherapy effect. The pleasant aroma of the steamed compresses helps to increase concentration and regain balance after treatment, and it also opens the respiratory system.

Ingredients

Some recipes for Herbal Compress include ingredients like ginger, eucalyptus leaves, cinnamon and many others. The most common ingredients of a Herbal Compress are the following:

Plai

Properties: anti-inflammatory for sprains and muscular pain, skin protection and wound healing, good for colds.

Lemongrass

Properties: toxin remover, anti-fungal, antibacterial, relief of indigestion and flatulence.

Kaffer Lime

Properties: moisturizing to the skin and hair, natural cleanser and deodorizer.

Tamarind Leaves

Properties: cleansing, antibacterial, stimulates digestion, anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-rheumatic, astringent.

Tumeric

Properties: antibacterial, anti-microbial, anti-itching, anti-inflammatory, enhances skin softness, high in antioxidants, aids indigestion, diarrhea and bladder infection.

Camphor

Properties: diaphoretic beneficial for asthma and respiratory problems, antiseptic, aromatic and increased absorption, cooling and local analgesia.

Rock Salt

Properties: reduces fever, anti-inflammatory for joint pain.

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