Thai Herbal Poultice

An herbal remedy for the times

One distinction between Estheticians and Massage Therapists that became abundantly clear as stay at home restrictions were lifted was the ability to offer services without removing the clients face mask. While an understandable safety measure, it left Estheticians in a quandary since covering the mouth was undoubtedly an obstacle that would prove difficult to overcome. As restrictions fluctuate and fears spike, this may well be a pivotal moment for body treatments, as we try to determine what is safe, what is allowed and what is possible in caring for our clients.

A Shift in Mindset

The challenge is how to shift the mindset of someone wanting a facial to booking a body treatment, which leads me to introduce the Thai Herbal Poultice. Its body work that clients love receiving, massage therapists love giving, and Estheticians can modify into a body treatment that falls within their scope.

Its body work that clients love receiving, massage therapists love giving, and estheticians can modify into a body treatment that falls within their scope.

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It’s particularly unique in its ability to not only provide the stress relief and restorative benefits we so desperately need, but also allow for a level of safety and distance that is hard to find within the spa walls that are built on touch therapies.

Touch without Touch

What is the Herbal Poultice and what are the benefits?

In Thai, Luk Pra Kob, literally translates as “pressing herbal sphere” or herbal ball. It is also commonly referred to as an herbal compress, bundle or poultice.

In definition, it’s a blend of Thai organic herbs, wrapped in a muslin cloth, steamed and applied to the body with a variety of massage movements. The body absorbs the heat, along with the organic herbs to help reduce aches & pains, stimulate circulation, increase lymphatic drainage, boost the immune system, detoxify & condition the skin.

The Thai tradition of herbal healing dates back for centuries and is an integrated system of medicine incorporating the Indian Ayurvedic system with Chinese practices, mixed folk medicine and the belief in the powers of nature & earth.

Use of an herbal compress can be traced back to the 14th Century Ayutthaya Thailand when a hot pack was administered to war-soldiers returning from battle to help heal their wounds and expedite their recovery.

The wisdom of herbs; how to grow, which to use, and for exactly what purposes, has been passed down from generation to generation and they remain an important part of everyday life and one of three main branches of Thai medicine.

Versatility & Safety

Once the herbal poultice is steamed to soften and activate the herbs, it’s applied using a variety of rolling, kneading and compression movements based on the intention of the therapist. Since both hands are used to roll and control the compression, it provides a barrier between you and your client without diminishing the therapeutic benefits.

And, in times of uncertainty with the quality of the air in an enclosed environment, it’s comforting to know that studies show that both the herbs and the associated steam in preparing them, can have a positive impact on the respiratory system due to the relative humidity and inhalation of some ingredients commonly found in herbal compresses such as eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor.”

Elevate any Service & Experience

Traditionally, the herbal poultice is incorporated into Thai massage performed on a floor mat and with the client clothed, but as a healing modality, it’s an amazingly effective tool that will elevate many services and is not limited to Massage Therapists. Once trained on the proper techniques for each treatment area, all licensed professionals can integrate into their own work being sure to keep in mind the fundamentals, intention and traditions of Thai healing practices.

For Massage Therapists, it provides a deep heat medicinal muscle treatment and is combined with multiple massage modalities that are seamlessly fused together to honor the 5-layers of Thai bodywork. They include passive yoga-like stretching, stimulation of Thai Sen points and specific aromatherapy effleurage strokes along the Sen meridians.

For Estheticians, it evolves into a beautifully orchestrated therapeutic body treatment that can precede or follow an array of services: body scrub, mask, craniosacral or facial therapy.

It can transform a traditional body scrub or body mask into a deeply detoxifying herbal remedy that allows clients to experience the transdermal inner cleansing benefits of the herbs and a proliferation of fresh blood and nutrients that feed the underlying tissue.

Applied during a back facial, the warmth will assist in softening and bringing pus, sebum, and cellular debris closer to the surface of the skin, while the anti-bacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of the herbs aid in healing and clearing the skin long-term.

Stress reduction equals vibrant skin. Using heat to melt tension in the shoulders and neck helps combat tech neck and disband myofascial tension that block the flow of essential nutrients and the space necessary for the optimal exchange of blood and lymph. Restoring mobility within the tissue and muscles, releases the gravitational pull on the facial structures for a more lifted and sculpted profile.

As a decolletage massage, it helps soften the visible appearance of lines and creases between the breasts by expanding the muscles in the pectoral region and reducing the effects of rounded shoulders. Improving posture helps decrease back pain and boost the immune system by allowing the organs to function unobstructed.

Apply before a hydrotherapy treatment and allow your client to continue using the compress while soaking in the warm water for additional pain-relieving and calmative benefits.

Incorporate into a deep heat herbal foot ritual that will embark clients into a new era of relaxation and bring a fresh feeling of exquisite warmth, lightness and renewed energy throughout their body.

Let the herbal poultice become an extension of your hand as you weave it into a foundational and functional part of your body treatments.

For the client, it takes them on a sensory journey to wellness, immediately invoking a sense of calm with recipients usually reporting a heightened sense of “ahhh” and well-being; a sensation of feeling simultaneously energized and relaxed, invigorated and deeply peaceful.



  • Reduce joint & muscle pain
  • Increase circulation & lymphatic flow
  • Speed recovery from sports activities
  • Ease tension & muscle cramps
  • Reduce swelling & inflammation
  • Increase flexibility, lengthen taut muscles
  • Detoxify; warms & aids the digestive system
  • Release blocked energy; melt knots in muscles
  • Increase energy flow throughout the body
  • Combat fatigue & stress; energize
  • Balance nervous tension; calm
  • Remedy for cold, tired or weak legs & feet
  • Boost immune system
  • Reduce stress & mental fatigue
  • Stimulates breathing & clear congestion