Thailand is one of the countries which are rich of herbs and spices commonly found in Thai food. The tropical climate of the country provides sunlight all year round to grow a wide range of valuable medicinal plants.Herbs and spices have been an essential part of Thai cooking since ancient times. They could be found in many popular Thai dishes, such as Tom Yam Kung which is well known for its combination of spicy, sweet and sour flavor. The special combination of herbs and spices used in preparing Thai dishes is what gives them their unique flavour and character. Additionally, these herbs and spices possess beneficial medicinal properties such as antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain a large amount of minerals, trace minerals and certain vitamins.Herbs in Thai Food & Their Nutritional Values There are more than a hundred Thai herbal plants, but here we’ll recommend some of the main ones commonly used in Thai cooking and their nutritional values.
Lemongrass (ta khrai) The lemongrass stems help you to cope with the cold, headache, coughing, flatulence, diarrhea, aching, and mild asthma.
Galangal (kha) Galangal helps prevent inflammatory and arthritis, heart disease, cardiovascular problem and cancer; relieve discomfort caused by digestive problem; relieve asthma, cough and sore throat. It can also help treat diarrhea and motion sickness.
Ginger (khing) Ginger helps treat gastritis, diabetes, arthritis, colic, diarrhea, heart conditions, and reduce risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. It can boost the entire metabolism and help with weight loss.
Shallot (hom daeng) Shallots help lower cholesterol level, prevent certain types of cancer, provide anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral protection, lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, soothe nerves, boost circulation, and speed up digestion.
Kaffir lime leaves (bai ma krut) The most important health benefits of kaffir lime leaves include its ability to promote oral health, detoxify the blood, boost skin health, improve digestion, lower inflammation, aid the immune system, reduce stress, and improve the health of hair.
Lime (ma nao) Lime juice has the medical value of Vitamin C, nourishing your skin, hair, voice, expelling parasite, releasing gas in your stomach, and curing allergic rashes and spots.
Coriander (phak chi) The health benefits of coriander include its use in the treatment of skin inflammation, high cholesterol levels, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, indigestion, menstrual disorders, smallpox, conjunctivitis, skin disorders, and blood sugar disorders.
Holy Basil (ka phrao) The health benefits of holy basil include oral care, relief from respiratory disorders, as well as treatment of fever, asthma, lung disorders, heart diseases
Garlic (kra thiam) Garlic has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It also has antibiotic properties, helping to keep the digestive system clean. It also builds the immunity against common cold and prevents heart ailments by clearing up blocked arteries. and stress.
Peppermint (saranae) Peppermint is popular as a folk remedy for several conditions and illnesses, including flatulence, menstrual pains, diarrhea, nausea, depression-related anxiety, muscle and nerve pain, the common cold, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Sweet Basil (horapha) Sweet basil leaves help relieve headache, colds and flu, flatulence, bloating, constipation, indigestion, and period pains. Crushed leaves can heal bruises and rashes.
Fingerroot (kra chai) It is used for the treatment of illnesses such as muscle pain, rheumatism, peptic ulcer, leukemia, gastrointestinal disorder, dental caries, dermatitis, diarrhea, wounds and diuretic. The tonic made from roots is used as carminative, stomachic and an aid for colds, sore throat and cough.
Bird’s eye chili (phrik khi nu) Bird’s eye chili is known for weight reducing qualities. It can play a key role in increasing the metabolism of the body, which results in more sweating and weight loss. It can help stimulate the action of stomach, improve digestion and reduce blood cholesterol. It is also used as a cure for dyspepsia, flatulence, arthritis, and toothache.
Cayenne pepper (phrik chi fa) Cayenne pepper is used for a variety of ailments including heartburn, delirium, tremors, gout, paralysis, fever, dyspepsia, dyspepsia, flatulence, sore throat, hemorrhoids, nausea, tonsillitis, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. It also has anti-irritant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Pepper (phrik thai) Pepper is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, beta carotene and vitamin C. It helps prevent osteoporosis and cancer, nourish bone and teeth, and acts as antioxidant.
Thai Herbal Remedies Herbal plants have been the basis for medical treatments in Thailand for centuries, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today.Herbal medicines are often used to provide basic health service, especially for people living in remote areas where they are more easily accessible and less expensive. Generally accepted as alternative treatment, herbal medicines can be used for treating a wide range of illnesses from minor scrapes and burns to serious diseases. In Thailand many herbal plants have been used to produce medicines for treating common ailments; for example, khamin chan (turmeric) for treating upset stomach, indigestion and ulcer, fah talai jone (andrographis paniculata) for treating fever symptoms and chum het thet (senna alata) for relieving constipation. Most drugstores in Thailand sell both traditional and modern medicines.
Herbal balms and nasal inhalers are also herbal home remedies which are widely used by Thai people. Some fragrant herbs are well-known for their healing properties, e.g. peppermint, lemongrass, pandan leaves, and kaffir limes. Their essential oils are used to make nasal inhaler, balm and many other products. Herbal inhaler has the properties to induce relaxation, relieve dizziness, decrease headaches and nausea, etc. That is why Thai people are always carrying it in their bags.
Herbal balm or ointment is made with a combination of essential oils extracted from herbs. There are several types of herbal balms, each with slightly different ingredients and properties. They are generally used to relieve muscle pain, swelling, bruises, sprains, itching and insect bites. Herbal balm is one of common Thai home remedies.
Besides, herbal products are widely used in Thai massage and spa treatments, due to the popular trend of natural health and wellness. A large variety of herbal extracts are used to produce skin care and spa products, for example massage oils, essential oils, herbal soap, body scrubs, and body lotions. The high quality natural spa products are one of the key factors that make Thailand become the “Spa Capital of Asia”. And as Thai spa products are low priced and can be easily found at beauty shops and shopping malls, they are one of the great souvenirs to bring home.
Thai Herbal Compress
Thai herbal massage is one of the most popular treatments offered by massage and spa establishments. Combining the traditional massage techniques with hot herbal compress, this treatment can provide the utmost in muscular and mental relaxation. For centuries Thai people have been using herbal remedies to treat many aliments. One of the best types of treatments for muscle and soft tissue pain is used in the form of herbal compress. Hot herbal compresses are frequently used in Thailand in conjunction with traditional massage. The herbal compress ball is a treatment that uses a round herbal ball filled with fresh herbs. The ball will be steamed before being applied to the body.
The compress ball is made of a packed bunch of herbs wrapped tightly in a thin muslin or cotton. Generally, the main herbal ingredients are lemongrass, zingiber cassumunar, turmeric, kaffir lime, camphor and tamarind. The Thai herbal compress healing technique offers many health benefits. It induces deep relaxation, relieves stress and fatigue, soothes sore and overworked muscles, boosts both emotional and physical well-being, improves circulation of blood and lymph and stimulates the internal organs.
When you are in Thailand, you are highly recommended to try a herbal massage or an aromatherapy oil massage. You can find plenty of spas and massage parlours in Bangkok and all tourist cities. Many middle and high class hotels also offer a wide range of spa treatments. Whatever treatment you choose, it will certainly give you the ultimate relaxation of body and mind and you can get a firsthand experience of the amazing benefits of Thai herbs. As they say -- A trip to Thailand is not complete without a massage or spa treatment.
Credit Khun Kanjana https://www.thaiwaysmagazine.com