Plain herbal baths, not to be confused with herbal steam baths, have been used for centuries in Thailand and are part of both ancient Thai culture and the traditional Thai Healing Arts.
Seen historically, the idea is that in the old times the Thai people lived along a river or canal, where they bathed. They would use water from a jar (with or without herbs in it) and washed themselves with taking liquid out of the jar with the half part of a coconut shell to soak and rinse the body.
Tradition also says that postpartum mothers were bathed in the same way. However, for mothers after childbirth additional special herbs were put in the bathing water, not only to clean the body but also to restore vitality and health.
Of course, the various herbal recipes were (and still are) based on the local cultural habits of each part of Thailand. Recipes contain fresh, dry or boiled herbs, or a combination. Some herbs are used for their medicinal properties, others simply for the pleasant smell they give.
After bathing, the water on the skin is left to dry slowly without wiping it away. It is believed that the remaining herbal materials on the skin will be absorbed better and produce a deeper and longer lasting effect.
Some of the benefits claimed for herbal baths are:
- Skin cleansing and peeling (removal of death cells and tissue debris);
- Opening of pores and sweat glands for detoxification;
- Freshness, cleanliness and good smell of the skin;
- Stimulation of blood circulation which has inherent healing effects such as wound healing and inflammation reduction;
- Support of weight reduction;
- Reduction of muscle ache and fatigue;
- Mood relaxation, stress reduction, and prevention of postpartum depression.