Herbal compress therapy is a beloved form of therapeutic heat massage. The practice is believed to go back almost 5,000 to Thailand. Some think the practice might have started in India.
Wherever its roots lie, it is a soothing and healing tradition in which the therapists will apply the compress – a muslin ball containing herbs including lemongrass, lime leaves, turmeric, ginger – which has been heated with steam. The practitioner will roll and press the compress along the body in circular massage movements.
The therapy was originally used as a relief for pain and inflammation.
Tom Wellman, who owns a company that imports Thai herbal compresses to the United States, believes the healing therapy is special in that it “allows you to provide aromatherapy, thermal therapy, and herbal therapy all at once in a modality that is new and unique.”
Benefits are believed to include opening the pores, improving circulation of blood and lymph, relief of muscle pain, stress, and headaches, offering deep relaxation, and stimulating internal organs. Traditional blends can also be tailored to fit specific conditions.
Image courtesy of: Auraveda Wellness
Compresses are usually heated in steamers – bamboo, traditionally, but electric steamers or rice cookers with steaming racks are also used. Practitioners usually have at least two compresses available, so that while one is being applied, the other can be warming.
In some spas, the treatment is offered along with gentle Thai yoga postures.
Check out the video to view an herbal compress massage in action:
Photo By Auraveda Wellness