City life is extremely demanding, we all can definitely agree on that. Bright lights, traffic congestions, mental strains from office work, and pollution are few of the annoyances that disturb our daily well-being. Research by Stanford University has proven that taking time off and simply retreating into nature is one of the easiest ways to reinvigorate yourself. Yet, many of us will rarely ever have time for that. With all the responsibilities at work and at home, we can’t afford to leave the city that easily. Worse yet, visiting hospitals when we’re sick can also be extremely time consuming, not to mention that it’s not cheap at all! Thus, many people are now turning towards traditional knowledges and natural products in search of alternatives to help relieve these stresses.
Herbs are harnessed for numerous purposes for as long as humans can remember. And because HiveSters is based in Thailand, we would like to introduce our lovely readers to 5 Amazing Applications of Thai Herbs. Thailand has been passing down its rich knowledge on Thai herbs for over 5,000 years. Let me guide you through how marvelous Thai herbs are.
Have you ever walked into a massage shop or hotels in Thailand and noticed how refreshing those places smell? One of the most important characteristics of Thai herbs is their fragrance. The scents adjust both the mood and atmosphere to allow those who smell them to feel as if they are in a totally different setting than, for example, the city. From fresh herbs, the aromatic scents are greatly enhanced by extracting essential oil from the plants. Some herbs renowned for their aromatic smell are pepper/spearmint, lemongrass, pandan leaves, and kaffir limes. The oil are made into herbal perfumes, nasal inhaler or Ya Dom (ยาดม), and many other products. Herbal perfume and nasal inhaler (nasal stick) have the properties to induce relaxation, decrease headaches and nausea, promote better respiration, etc. That is why you might have noticed that Thai people are always carrying a nasal stick in their bag or even having one up their nose! If you have a chance to go clubbing in Thailand and feeling way too drunk, then you should try asking someone for a Ya Dom. You’ll be amazed at how everything seems better with just a single breathe in!
Apart from mind relaxation, nothing beats a soothing Thai massage to relieve physical tensions after a long tiring day of work or traveling. As crucial as the physical massaging style is, the strength of Thai massage or Nuat Phaen Thai also relies on the healing characteristics of the herbs. If you’ve tried Thai massaging, you might have also noticed that the herbal compress balls are heated. This technique helps increase the rate of permeation of healing properties from herbs into the skin. The champion of thai herbs in massaging is ginger. Ginger is a super-herb with numerous uses. The main trait is its its antiseptic property of healing skins and treating bacterial infections. However, that is not all that there is. Ginger is also great at stimulating digestion and relieving insomnia. The combination of massaging, heated herb ball, and herbal aroma will bring you on an unforgettable journey of deep relaxation. Your blood circulation will improve, muscle tensions will relax, body aching will reduce, and muscle inflammation will slowly heal. The herbal compress is so effective that it was claimed that Thai massage can even be an alternative to oral ibuprofen, a medicine for treating common joint disease.
If you’ve been to Thailand, have you ever noticed that some luxurious hotel resorts often provide complementary cleansing products (shampoo & soap) that are herbal and organic? Aside from the fragrance and healing properties, many Thai herbs also contain nourishing characteristics. For example, turmeric soap does not only heal acnes, cuts, and bruises, but also keeps skin fair and young. Tamarind and mangosteen are also amazing alternatives for those who would like to have smooth, soft, and light skin. This is because the natural Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) found in tamarind pulp have the function of weakening bonds that hold dead skin together. Sometimes treating yourself to an aromatic herbal bath after a long tiring day might be just what your body needs. The aromatic herbal bath will induce deep relaxation, relieves stress and anxiety, and also diminish tension and fatigue.
It’s time to brighten up the day with authentic Thai flavours. Thai food would never be so distinctive in its powerful taste and fragrance without adding Thai herbs and spices. It wouldn’t be too far from the truth if we said the herbs are the most important part of most dishes. The herbs and spices in Thai food balance the four essential Thai tastes of salty, sour, spicy, and sweet. I’m sure you are familiar with Tom Yum Goong (hot and sour soup with prawns). Lemongrass plays a major role in helping remove prawn odor from the soup. Similarly, galangal in Tom Kha Gai (chicken galangal in coconut cream soup) has the function of reducing oily taste of coconut cream. Some other renown herbs are Thai basil, holy basil, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, etc. Therefore, herbs are extensively used for enhancing both taste and aroma of Thai dishes. A personal tip, though, is that these herbal soups work wonders at relieving hangovers! Try having a hot Tom Yum soup next time you need to sober up!
Even with influences from western medicine, many Thai people, especially in the rural areas, still rely on traditional knowledge of medicinal properties in herbs. Along with the increase in awareness of side effects due to chemicals in medicine, medicinal properties of herbs became even more important. As mentioned above, ginger is a marvelous cure for common cold and indigestion. Lemongrass and kaffir lime are also great medicinal alternatives for those suffering from a flu. Essential oil from a combination of herbs could also be extracted to make herbal balm/ointment or Ya Mhong (ยาหม่อง), which are very effective against mosquito bites and bruises. You can keep all those annoying mosquitoes away by just applying a small amount of the balm on your skin!
This is simply an introduction to Thai herbs. If you are interested to learn more, you should join our Herb It Up trip. There, you will get to learn all about the greatness of Thai herbs, enjoy traditional Thai massage, cook with Thai herbs, and many more!
Please visit https://hivesters.com/activity/trip/herb-it-up for more information!
© Thumbnail Photo from Flickr.
Chutipon Srisakvarakul (Warm)
Warm is passionate about sustainable development. He is excited everytime he goes on a journey with his family and friends. Warm finds capturing amazing sceneries and people on the trips with his camera to be absolutely satisfying.