Plai is a member of the Ginger family, so the aroma is very similar to common ginger - spicy, peppery, with a touch of green, and some damp earth. The roots and plant also look like its more famous cousin, Zingiber officinale as well as being therapeutically similar. The essential oil of Plai is steam distilled from the roots of the plant. Unlike Ginger, Plai Essential Oil tends to cool inflamed areas rather than heat them and so it is really useful when treating sprains, inflammatory conditions and aches and pains.
The Latin name of Plai Essential Oil is Zingiber casssumunar , and is much rarer than Zingiber Oficinale. Often called Pulei (which we translate to Plai from the Thai original name), it is from the Zingerberaceae family, which are mainly gingers. Plai Essential Oil is steam distilled from the fresh rhizomes unlike Ginger, which is distilled from the dried rhizomes, and is a pale straw yellow colour. Plai Essential Oil is gentle, non-toxic, non-sensitising and non-irritating and if you are an aromatherapist who deals with pain in your client base, then this oil has to be a really important addition to your collection of oils.
Plai Essential Oil is native is to Thailand, Indonesia and India and it is commonly used in cooking, massage (the famous Thai massages use this herb in the massage bags along with other herbs such as lemongrass) and aromatherapy treatments.
Traditionally, the healing properties of the Plai plant have been legendary in Thailand and Southeast Asia for centuries, and Plai Essential Oil is still used across these regions in folk medicine for acne, bruises, coughs, colds, digestive disorders, nausea, and respiratory conditions
The many properties of Plai Essential Oil are that it is anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, muscle relaxant, insect repellent, spermicidal, antimicrobial, antifungal, local aesthetic, antioxidant. Plai is widely used by massage therapists to combat joint and muscle pain the oil is also used in the treatment of acne, bruises, burnt skin, skin inflammation, insect bite and asthmatic symptoms.
Essential Oil of Plai blends really well with Lemongrass, ginger, juniper, marjoram, and lavender. It also mixes well with citrus oils and woods. Plai Essential Oil is considered safe to use but as it is warming on the skin, you may need to be prepared for that! Also this oil is not to be taken internally – it works well enough from the outside!
The main chemical constituents include Monoterpenes 40% (Sabinene 27-34%, (E)-1- (3,4dimethoxylphenol)butadiene (DMPBD) 12-16%, ƴ-terpinene 6-8%), Alcohols 40% (Terpinen-4-ol 30-35%), Aldehydes 5%, and a trace of Oxides.
Plai Essential Oil can be used as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. In one study, its effects were compared to aspirin and it was found to be just as effective, if not more so. It’s one of my go-to oils for all kinds of pain relief. Many times, in our advanced aromatherapy lessons, has this oil been used in compresses for pain.
Research does show that Plai Essential Oil can relieve pain for up to 24 hours. Plai Essential Oil is gaining increased recognition for its ability to assist in pain management, especially for chronic conditions. I have found that applying in a lotion for mild pain you need to use around 2% (i.e., 60 drops of Plai Essential Oil to 100ml lotion) and apply at least 3 times a day. For much more serious pain in small areas, warm up the skin well, use 5ml of oil or lotion, add up to 8 drops of Plai Essential Oil and massage well into the warmed area. Cover with plastic film or a hot towel for around 30 minutes. The pain should subside after a little while.
Widely used in massage, Plai essential oil can be helpful to ease minor sprains, strains, pain from arthritis and general aches and pains. For joint and muscle pain from sprains/arthritis, use 18 drops of Plai essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and apply to the inflamed area. A blend of equal parts Plai, Black Pepper and Lemon oils massaged onto joints inflamed by arthritis was found to provide relief, according to one case study.
Use a blend of Plai, Geranium, Orange or Marjoram essential oils mixed with a carrier oil and apply to the lower abdomen and lower back to ease menstrual cramps. I suggest that in a 50ml pot of cream you add 4 drops of each of the oils mentioned and rub in with massage movements.
Another trick is to lie down flat and put 3 drops of Plai Essential Oil into the belly button. Wait for this to be absorbed before getting up, this treatment can provide lasting relief for period pains.
Using Plai Essential Oil in an aromatherapy diffuser really does help to ease symptoms of respiratory coughs, colds and congestion. Use between 4-8 drops in the vaporiser. This is also suitable for children, but we can also help children by putting a couple of drops of Plai Essential Oil onto a tissue and tucking it into their school jacket or jumper to help keep the germs away and promote easier breathing.
Just keeping Plai Essential oil handy through the school holidays is a great idea! It is antiseptic and so just dab a little bit on cuts and bruises and you can be sure the area will be sterile. Added to that, the pain of the scrape or cut will be deadened and so it’s a bit of a win-win! Being a base note, Plai Essential Oil can also help children calm down ready for bed, so don’t forget to get some!
To help reduce pain and inflammation use the recipe below during the day and after a bath when the skin is warm. In a 100ml bottle use:
Blend all the oils well in the bottle and apply a pump cap. Use a desert spoonful in the palms of your hand and massage into the area really well until the lotion has disappeared.
For help with painful stomach cramps, use the recipe below. In a small basin use:
Put the essential oils into the water – they will not blend in as they are not water soluble, but don’t worry! Put a small tea towel in the water and allow it to absorb all the liquid. Drape the towel over the lower abdomen and cover with a plastic bag or cling film. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes before removal.
For children who scrape, graze, bruise and cut themselves use this as soon as you can to help healing to start and bruises to be left at bay. In a 60ml Jar use the following recipe:
Add the essential oils to the cream in the order they are written in the recipe and stir well. Put into the bottle and use as needed.