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What is Thai poultice massage?

What is Thai poultice massage?

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Of all the various therapeutic massage techniques available in modern times, there is one that originated many years ago that is particularly effective in relieving sore and achy muscles. This tried-and-true method is called Thai poultice massage.

Thai poultice massage is a technique that involves special poultices made of herbs and spices that are wrapped in muslin or cotton and steam-heated. Steam heating allows the natural essential oils and aromas of the herbs and spices to be released. During massage, the poultices provide moist and nutrient-rich relaxation to the skin and muscles. While offering comfort, the poultices also work with the body’s natural energy to promote harmonization of the body’s energy flow. They do this by loosening energy blockages and stimulating blood circulation.

Thai poultice massage originated in Thailand during the Ayutthaya period (14th to 18th centuries). The poultices were used on soldiers returning home with painful, weary muscles. The poultices were applied directly to the body in a kneading and systematic manner. Today, Thai poultice massage is becoming popular in the United States. Licensed massage therapists use the technique to alleviate pain and inflammation, as well as to relieve the stresses of modern life that accumulate in muscles and joints.

Typical ingredients of Thai poultices include: prai (a herb specifically from Thailand), used for relief of sore muscles and tired joints; tumeric, a natural analgesic that contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, refreshes the skin and boosts the immune system; lemongrass, which regenerates connective tissue and ligaments, supports thymus and spleen function, aids circulation, reduces fevers and infections, improves muscle tone, aids athletic muscle pain and sprains, stimulates lymphatic detox, aids edema and fluid retention, and helps skin blemishes; kaffir lime, for toning mature skin and boosting circulation; and camphor, which stimulates the circulatory and nervous system, combats inflammation and eases spasms, various pain aliments and sore muscles. Camphor is also reported to aid digestion, kill internal parasites and minor infections. Many other beneficial herbs and spices may be used as well as these.

Thai poultice massage is not recommended for women who are pregnant. Also, persons who have rheumatoid arthritis should get the approval of their medical doctor before receiving a Thai poultice massage. Otherwise, any of us leading an active lifestyle, especially anyone feeling sore and achy, would truly benefit from the deep, soothing, aromatic comfort that comes with a Thai poultice massage.

Warren Burchim is a licensed massage therapist who practices at The Center, 1 Hoffman St., Auburn. To learn more, call 704-0319 or visit


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