What is a Herbal Compress Massage?

Thai Herbal Compress massage (Luk Pra Kob) uses a steamed herbal ball during the massage. A blend of medicinal herbs is wrapped in cotton and applied to the body as a hot compress to relieve pain and inflammation and nourish and soften the skin.
FB image of a man receiving a Herbal Compress massage


Luk Pra Kob translates as “pressing herbal sphere.” The compress is made from herbs that are air-dried or mixed fresh in a specific ratio and bound in an unbleached cotton cloth. The compress is steamed at temperatures around 80 to 100 degrees Celcius, allowing the essential oils to evaporate into the cotton cloth.
In a typical Herbal Compress treatment, the Thai massage therapist begins at the feet and works up the body, similar to a traditional Thai massage. The therapist presses the heated Herbal Compress along energy channels called sen lines.
The essential oils and heat in the Herbal Compress transfer to the recipient’s body. Since these oils are beneficial to the skin, it is best to not shower for three or four hours after a Herbal Compress treatment.
Herbal compresses can also be used during a traditional Thai massage to help relax the client, and to increase the effectiveness of the acupressure and stretches.

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The Thai Herbal Compress treatment has five main benefits for the receiver. First, the thermal effect of the hot compress increases the local dilation of tiny blood capillaries that, in turn, increases the rate of absorption of the herbs oil. The increased dilation helps relieve muscle aches and pains.
Second, the physical compression of the tissue during a Herbal Compress treatment increases circulation depth, which helps release blockages in the energy channels. The physical application also improves the appearance of the skin, stimulates Lymphatic drainage and reduces muscular tension. When applied to the abdomen, the compression reduces indigestion.
Third, the typical ingredients of Herbal Compress have an anti-inflammatory effect. The oils of the various herbs reduce swelling and help to maintain tissue/fluid balance.
Fourth, a Herbal Compress treatment will nourish the skin and help to mend sun-damaged skin.
Finally, the Herbal Compress treatment has an aromatherapy effect. The pleasant aroma of the steamed compresses helps to increase concentration and regain balance after treatment, and it also opens the respiratory system.


The most common ingredients of a Herbal Compress are the following:


Properties: anti-inflammatory for sprains and muscular pain, skin protection and wound healing, good for colds.


Properties: toxin remover, anti-fungal, antibacterial, relief of indigestion and flatulence.

Kaffer Lime

Properties: moisturizing to the skin and hair, natural cleanser and deodorizer.

Tamarind Leaves

Properties: cleansing, antibacterial, stimulates digestion, anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-rheumatic, astringent.


Properties: antibacterial, anti-microbial, anti-itching, anti-inflammatory, enhances skin softness, high in anti-oxidants, aids indigestion, diarrhea and bladder infection.


Properties: diaphoretic beneficial for asthma and respiratory problems, antiseptic, aromatic and increase absorption, cooling and local analgesia.

Rock Salt

Properties: reduces fever, anti-inflammatory for joint pain.
Other recipes of Herbal Compresses include ingredients like ginger, ecalyptus leaves, cinammon and many others.
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