I first discovered Plai Essential Oil when I was travelling in Thailand, and it was being used in every place that I had a massage. I’m a big fan of massage, and I completely indulged myself whilst I was there and got used to having a daily massage from the monks at the medical school inside Wat Pho temple. Plai essential oil benefits anyone who has pain, and I’m guessing that you may never have heard of it?
Very quickly, I became familiar with its fragrance and asked the monks what it was. Plai or Prai was the answer because the R and L are often interchangeable in Thai language.
It comes from Thailand, and it starts off as a root tuber that is related to ginger. However, ginger essential oil makes the skin feel hot, whereas Plai Essential Oil has a wonderful cooling effect. It’s INCI name is Zingiber Cassumunar (which shows it is part of the ginger family), but whereas ginger is rubifacient (warming to the skin), Plai is wonderfully cooling. The roots are steam distilled and give a clear to pale yellow oil. It has a very safe reputation for being non sensitizing on the skin, but it should always be diluted in a carrier oil.
It has a fresh, herbaceous, spicy aroma and if you like to have an essential oil fragrance gently wafting in the background, this oil diffuser is USB charged, safe and has an on/off timer as well. I have this one from Amazon and have been very happy with it, so am confident to recommend it to you.
So, what else is there to know about Plai?
- As you now know, it is superb for cooling and soothing muscular aches and pains, which are generally striated muscle. Its anti-inflammatory effect takes down swelling and relaxes the muscles. It’s one of the reasons I use it in the Ease The Pain Balm formulation in my book.
- It’s a go-to oil for strained tendons and torn ligaments where you need fast pain relief as well as major reduction of inflammation. The most common injury that dancers suffer from is ankle inversion (twisted ankle), and this is an excellent oil to keep in a dancer’s first aid kit.
- There are plenty of home remedy muscles relaxers on the internet, but for pain, you need more than just a muscle relaxer, you need an analgesic. One of Plai Essential Oil benefits is that it is an excellent analgesic.
- It can also help with IBS. The intestinal tract is composed of smooth muscle, and Plai also relaxes smooth muscle, thus easing the pain of cramps (as well as menstrual cramps). It also helps with the after effects of poor digestion by easing nausea and flatulence.
- Plai is also strongly antifungal, which is why it is in my Floaty Foot Cream recipe in my book. You could also use it shampoos and body washes for the same purpose.
- The Sabinene and the Terpinen-4-ol are both excellent antioxidants on their own. Naturally bonded together in this oil means that they give an exceptionally high antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants tackle free radicals that damage collagen and elastin. This level of antioxidant protection makes Plai a “must-have” for any age defying skincare.
- Plai shows a strong antimicrobial activity whilst still being gentle on the skin. This makes it ideal to use in acne and problem skin products as well as generally fighting off infections.
- It’s a great insect repellant, especially when used in the diffuser.
- People who have allergy induced or excercise induced astmas attacks have benefited from just inhaling the oil. It’s anti-histaminic and anti-inflammatory action has been found to be beneficial. However, asthma is a serious condition that can worsen quickly so do rely on the advice given by your own medical practitioner.
- It is often introduced into the air in the air-conditioned shopping malls where its gram-negative and gram-positive antibacterial qualities are functional, as well as smelling wonderfully fresh and cooling.
Research into Trauma Using Plai Essential Oil
Khon Kaen University is one of Thailand’s leading research universities and has been studying Plai Essential Oil benefits in topical products and concludes that it is very effective. Diclofenac Sodium Gel is commonly used under various brand names such as Voltaren and Voltarol for muscular pain relief. Research that was carried out by The Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research at Chatuchak concluded that Plai Essential Oil used as an anti-inflammatory was twice as effective as the pharma drug Voltarol (Diclofenac). The analgesic effect was good for up to 18 hours and had no reported side effects. Tests indicate that it is the DMPBD that is the key component responsible for this.
How to dilute essential oils is important, and in several other studies, they tend to use it in higher percentages than I would normally use as an aromatherapist, so I have not used those for comparison.
Terpinen-4-ol is also found in Tea Tree Essential Oil and is one of the molecules responsible for the excellent antimicrobial properties of both oils. This makes it useful for any small cuts and wounds, as well as burns. The molecule is also anti-inflammatory and also strongly antioxidant. One study reported that Terpinen‐4‐ol is a more potent antibacterial agent against MRSA than anything else.
Sabinene gives that woody, slightly peppery note to the oil and is strongly antioxidant as well as anti fungal and antibacterial (being very effective against salmonella). A major aspect, though, is how effective it is as an anti-inflammatory agent. and particulalry useful relieving arthritic inflammation.
DMPDB is shortened text for (E)-1-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl) butadiene, and is undergoing further research for its ability to relieve pain and relax muscles from stress. It is part of ther reason that Plai Essential OIl is recommened for pain relief with ME and for also stimulating immunity.
g-terpinene gives a strong citrussy / herbal note to the oil, and inhibits fungal growth ane bacterial growth. As with other terpenes, it is a good antioxidant.
a-terpinene is the molecule that is partly responsible for the woody note that you can detect in the essential oil, but this molecule has several powerful attributes. Apart from being an antioxidant, it inhibits the growth of fungus and slows bacterial growth. It is no surprise to know that it is also found in Tea Tree Essential Oil.
I was lucky enough to visit a Plai plantation when I was studying perfumery in Thailand. For a field trip, we were driven out to the middle of an open field where there was a huge copper distillation unit.
The washed root tubers had been brought by ox and cart to the still and were being tipped into a massive mincing machine. The roots were pulverized and then tipped into the still. That was then topped up with water. The burners were lit, and the still gently started coming to the boil. The air was so fresh and zingy with the smell of the still wet mincing machine!
Pretty soon, the steam was going out of the condenser tube and pouring into the stainless steel buckets. The essential oil floated on the surface of the water and was siphoned out. I was amazed at the volume coming out, and several guys were running backwards and forwards with the essential oil in the buckets to tip it into containers. Quite an amazing day out.
Of course, when I got back to my accommodation, I booked another massage with my bottle of Plai Essential Oil that I was given at the plantation.
When I came to finally leave Thailand, I found a pharmacy that made their own creams and I asked them to make me a strong Plai cream. I’m OK flying, but I always get too hot on a flight and my legs and feet start to get twitchy after a while. After I had checked in, I went to the toilets and applied the Plai cream from the pharmacy around my ankles and up my legs, around my neck and shoulders and down my arms.
The first thing is that I got a row of seats to myself – I was smelling quite fresh, but also quite strongly fresh! It wasn’t a full flight anyway, but nobody wanted to sit in my fragrant row!
I was blissfully cool throughout the whole flight and could not feel any discomfort from my leg muscles at all. No stiff back or cricked neck from sleeping during the flight. Plai made that the best flight experience I have ever had.
Plai with Cannabis & CBD
This is an exciting new area that many people are working on. There are two aspects of Plai – the chemical and the subtle. The chemical side can be clearly seen by looking at the chemical profile and understanding teh effects of the terpenes in teh oil. Plai also works on a menta and psychological level as well. It helps to calm nervousness, anxiety and anger and, in a very postive way, makes you feel much more appreciative of what you have in your life and allows your mind to be more expansive and creative.
These qualities tie in very nicely with many cannabis strains and is why I wrote my book about combining cannabis with skincare products that use essential oils. The combination of natural terpenes is extremely functional just as they are in the essential oil, but when they are combined with CBD, the effect is greatly enhanced. You can even use water soluble CBD Isolate in a skincare product and blend in the essential oils to get very desirable and powerful effects, all totally legal because CBD Isolate is legal in so many countries where cannabis is restricted.
Essential Oils & Emotions
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as Traditional Aromatherapy, essential oils resonate with certain chakra vibrations to support the function of that area.
Plai Essential Oil resonates with the 1st Chakra.
- 1st Chakra / Root Chakra / Muladhara / Base of spine
This chakra connects with our stability, roots, and foundations and gives us the security of feeling grounded. When the chakra is open, we feel balanced and capable.
Mantra: “I can’t grow from an unsteady foundation”
This is useful for when you feel “out of sorts”. It’s very grounding when you feel a bit too much in your head. It’s also protective and gently purifying for any negativity you may have. Obviously, a wonderful oil to use in the diffuser during the evening when you are winding down after your day. For this reason, it is a natural partner to blend with Black Spruce Essential Oil.
How To Get The Best Quality Products?
It’s always a concern when you buy something for the first time, to know that you are getting good quality. Some of the heaviest marketing for essential oils is done by the MLM companies – I’m sure you have heard of the big names? Well, someone has to pay for all that market AND the high commissions the resellers get (spoiler alert – it’s you that pays) and, in my experience, the quality is not always what I would choose to use. I’ve hunted around and checked online paperwork to find suppliers that offer the best quality products at a fair price, and also make it easy for you. I recommend these that are available on Amazon;
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