In Thailand herbs are used in Thai cuisine ingredients, traditional medicine and in Thai spas for aromatherapy purposes and for massage treatments. In Thai cuisine the blend of herbs not only enhances the taste, but also enhances for aromatic and health benefits. In spas Thais use ancient Thai recipes to compliment the Herbal heat compress and the herbal steam treatments, herbs still play a very big part in the lives of Thais for energising, revitalising and their balancing effects on the body. Thai herbal medicine is used to maintain balance of the 4 elements of earth, fire, air and water, much like the Ayurvedic system. Herbs have been used for a long time to assist with illness and as dietary supplements and as with many things in Thailand the Thai people have inherited the wisdom and traditional beliefs from their ancestors.
In part one of a look at herbs used in Thailand we review lemon grass, kaffir lime and ginger.
Lemon Grass is a herb originating from India, but is now a prime ingredient in the cuisine of countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The Thai name for lemon grass is Takrai ตะไคร้ also known by its French name Citronnelle.
Lemon Grass In Thai Cooking
For Cooking Lemon grass is equally good added to meat, seafood and fish dishes and can be used in fresh, dried or powdered form
- Thai Salads like Yam Neua ยำเนื้อ ( beef salad)
- Thai Soups like Tom Yum Gung ต้มยำกุ้ง (spicy prawn soup) or Tom Yum Gai ต้มยำไก่ (spicy Chicken soup)
- Fish dishes like pla takrai ปลาตะไคร้ and a fish salad like Yam Pla ยำปลา
- Red and Green curry pastes
The Health Benefits Of Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass as a healing herb also has a number of wonderful benefits. It is said that Lemon Grass has
- A calming effect and wards off anxiety.
- Relieves Insomnia and stress.
- Can be used in aid to detoxify the Pancreas, kidneys, liver, bladder and the digestive tract.
- Contains antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- Cuts down cholesterol, uric acid and excess fats.
- Stimulates digestion.
- Relieves pain like headaches and fever.
- Relieves tension and stiffness.
- Is said to help relieve arthritic pain and rheumatism.
- Improves blood circulation, reduces blood pressure.
- Reduces acne and improves the skin.
- Can even be used as a mild insect repellent to keep away mosquitos and other unwanted visitors.
- Lemon Grass tea provides a number of benefits as the lemon grass is rich in vitamin c’s and loaded with anti – oxidants, it is said for reducing cholesterol drink Lemon grass tea with honey.
Lemon Grass In Aromatherapy And Spa Treatments
- Uplifting and energising especially in a burner and for when studying or work where high levels of concentration are required.
- Used as incense it helps relieve stress and helps to build self-confidence.
- Try a lemon grass body scrub spa treatment for encouraging the circulation and skin toning.
- One of the herbs used in a Thai Herbal Steam Bath.
- Used in candles, various spa products and incense for Aromatherapy.
- Can be combined with massage oils or put in to a warm bath to give a feeling of general wellbeing.
- A lemon grass wrap spa treatment for creating an inner calm.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Kaffir Lime is known in Thailand as Bai Makrut, ใบมะกรูด and is actually a herb and a fruit belonging to the citrus family and originated in South East Asia. You will often hear other names given such as the ”Thai Lime” and ”Makrut Lime”. Kaffir Lime is used to aid Thai culinary delights along with its therapeutic values and cosmetic use.
Kaffir Lime In Thai Cooking
Kaffir Lime is used in both Thai curries and soups.
- A key ingredient in Thai curry paste.
- A key ingredient in Thai soups such as Tum yam and Tum Kha.
- The leaves are used as garnishes.
The Health Benefits of Kaffir Lime
- Rubbing the leaves on teeth and gums can enhance dental health.
- Anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory.
- An appetite enhancer.
- Both fruit and leaves great for skin regeneration.
- Treats dandruff and encourages healthy hair.
- Contains rejuvenation powers to aid in increasing energy and eliminating tiredness.
- The extract of the plant helps to increase blood circulation.
- A good mosquito repellent.
- Helps to control acne and spots.
Kaffir Lime In Aromatherapy And Spa Treatments
- Extract of fruit used in Aromatherapy.
- Rejuvenating with a few drops of Lime leaf oil extract in your bath water.
- A spa treatment of Ginger & Kaffir lime scrub.
- A spa treatment of Sweet Basil and Kaffir lime compress massage.
Ginger is probably one of the most well-known herbs and used throughout the world.
Ginger has played a major role in Chinese medicine for centuries and is in fact native to China and India. Ginger is also a major influence to Thailand in the cuisine, medicinal and in aromatherapy. The Thai name for ginger is (Khing) ขิง, but the official name is Zingiber Officinale. It is said that Confucius consumed a portion of fresh ginger with every meal.
Ginger In Thai Cooking
- In the classic dish of (Gai Phat Khing) ไก่ผัดขิง stir fried chicken and fresh ginger.
- Another favourite dish of the Thais is (Khao Man Gai) ข้าวมันไก่ Steam chicken and ginger sauce.
- For a fish dish there is (Pla Nung Daw jio Gap Khing) ปลานื้งเต้าเจีย้วกับขิง Steamed fish with ginger.
- Ginger is also sliced up and used in Thai salads
The Health Benefits Of Ginger
- A digestive aid that can assist with the relieving of indigestion, stomach cramps, gas pains and diarrhea.
- Used to combat nausea in motion sickness and in morning sickness.
- Contains anti inflammation properties and is said to help relieve pain connected with arthritis and rheumatism, by reducing inflammation of the joints.
- Stimulates the blood circulation.
- As a cleanser is said to remove toxins from the body and cleanses the kidneys and the bowels plus nourishing the skin.
- Used as treatments for respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma by loosening up and expelling phlegm from the lungs.
- Tea that has been brewed from ginger is an age-old remedy for colds.
- Can also assist with fevers by warning the body and an increase of perspiration.
- Can be used to reduce irritability and drowsiness.
- Is said to help keep concentration and energy levels up.
- With its energising properties it is not surprising that ginger is also said to act as a sex stimulant/aphrodisiac.
Ginger In Aromatherapy And Spa Treatments
- Try a ginger scrub.
- Ginger and black pepper foot treatment.
- Aromatic ginger bath.
- Using ginger as a compress by adding a few drops of ginger essential oil to water and soaking a cloth in it.
For more information on Thai food and the inclusion of these ingredients in some delicious Thai dishes please visit www.thaigourmetfoodcaterers.co.uk
For more information on health and wellness in Thailand and Asia including spas please visit www.engagingthailand.com