Herbal steams, herbal baths and herbal soaks are a rather common form of treatment in Thailand applied in Thai spas, salons, massage parlors, Buddhist temples, and saunas, but certainly also by individual healers and practitioners.
Herbal steam, vapor, and heat treatments are used to treat both body and mind with the idea that scented, healing aromas soothe and relax, and through inhalation and absorption can also cure internal ailments. Of course, extensive knowledge of Thai herbs and mixtures of herbs is needed to know what to apply when.
In addition, Ayurvedic principles are used to help balance the four elements: earth, wind, fire, and water. Thai heat therapies are also used for detoxification purposes: heat makes blood vessels widen coming closer to the surface, perspiration flows from pores carrying excessive chemical substances, toxins, and impurities to the surface and out of the body.
Other benefits include helping with weight loss, relief of respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies, improving skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, relief of muscle tension and stiff joints, stress reduction, boosting the immune system, improving blood circulation, and the reduction of cellulite.
Furthermore, herbal steam and heat treatments are particularly important in Traditional Thai Midwifery (Moh Tum Yae) practices, both during the pregnancy as after giving birth in the postpartum stage, the so-called Yu Fai treatments.
Herbal steam treatments are done in a variety of ways: from covering the head with a towel hanging above a steaming bowl, in tents, or in full-fledged sauna-like environments, to name a few options.