Thai Herbal Compress Massage

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What is Thai Herbal Compress Massage

The Thai herbal compress ball has never really been given the recognition it really should deserve, especially as we now have the modern massage creams, lotions, & oils it has easily been ignored. These white cloth compress balls must have considerable value for they have been in traditional use for hundreds of years & are still common pace & used widely through all of Thailand today.

There are different blends of the plants & herbs that go into these compress balls, varies & depends on the traditional practice & herbs available in the area of origin. There also seems to be a wider variation in the herb formulations between the Northern tribal types & the Southern types from coastal areas. These very versatile tools can be used in any combination of ways to bring about the desired effect on the body.

How To Heat The Compress Balls

Traditionally they are heated in the top of a special pot which has a fire made of coconut husks below, with a bowl for the compress & water above. While the energetic quality of having the fire is first class, it is very impractical for the modern practitioner to do this & very few Thai’s use this method these days. If your massage practice includes using heated stones then it is a very easy process to just place the compress into your hot stone heater. Or a special herbal ball steamer. The compress balls should be soaked first but not completely drowned & plenty of time given for the heat to penetrate the herbs.

The aroma of the herbs is also part of the treatment, inhalation of the steam is as beneficial to the body, as the contact with the skin. Your therapist will ask if they are hot enough by putting them lightly on your arm. A well prepared & applied compress can feel amazing, if the compress is either too wet or not hot enough, it will feel like a soggy dish cloth, not exactly relaxing or beneficial ! Therapist will normally use 2 compress balls in conjunction. Usually one herbal compress is heating while they are massaging using the other, keeping a constant rhythm & temperature throughout the session.

What Benefit Does Thai Herbal Compress Give ?

Many practitioners like to give traditional massage first to open the energy channels (sen) & point locations (jap sen ) this opens the body system making it more receptive to the herbs. Some work using a combination using Thai massage to open the sen on a leg or arm before they apply the herbal compress. Some practitioners even apply traditional balms on knotted areas when they feel it necessary. The stimulation from the herbal compress & herbs helps to increase  blood circulation, help with relaxation, helps remove stress, helps keep internal organs moving & gives an all over feeling of well being as well as relieving fatigue.

How long the herbal compress lasts depends on how it is stored & used. If you use the herbal compress on the bare skin then it can only be used for that person. They can be used twice on the same person if placed in a bag & refrigerated. But after a while they become too soggy to reuse.

Do Not Heat The Herbal Compress In a Microwave 

If you are thinking of buying some herbal compresses & trying the massage out at home. Do not put the in a microwave to heat them. One they will get too hot. two they will dry out & not work on the body & three the herbs will be damaged & not work there magic. Also avoid bathing or shower for about 2 hours after your treatment, this will give the herbs time to work.


My wife is trained in the art of Thai herbal compress & I have had this massage several times. The heat really penetrates the muscles, but unlike hot stone massage, the compress balls are a little bit softer.

It’s a great massage to have after either training hard or a hard week at work. It releases all the built up tension in the muscles leaving your body relaxed & chilled.

For more information on the dvd, please click on image.

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