Related to both Ginger and Galangal, Plai (Zingiber cassumunar Roxb.) grows in the warm, humid climates of Thailand. Used in traditional medicine, it is a popular ingredient in massage oils for sore muscles, painful joints, back pain.
The essential oil is distilled from the ginger-like rhizomes and has a spicy, earthy medicinal aroma, cool, with spicy ginger notes. The oil is colorless to pale yellow.
One of two major constituents in Plai essential oil is sabinene, a commonly occurring monoterpene which is credited with numerous proven therapeutic properties.
The other major constituent is terpinen-4-ol, a molecule with wide-ranging applications and therapeutic effects.
Plai has been used in traditional Thai massage for centuries to combat joint and muscle problems although there is wider range of applications depending on essential oils it is associated with. Although born from tradition, its effectiveness have since being confirmed through modern scientific research not only in Thailand but around the world.
In research Plai oil has shown antioxidant activity that inhibited some free radicals (Leelarungrayub et al. 2017) and very interestingly, this research was conducted to see if Plai essential oil could be used instead of neurofen in physical therapy with ultrasound in the gel applied to reduce inflammation. The study showed that on rats at least, Plai was as effective as neurofen.
It is used increasingly for management of pain, especially for any chronic conditions such as arthritis. It is also great for helping torn ligaments, tendonitis, muscular spasm, menstrual cramps and basically any chronic joint pain (Worwood 2016).
- L’Aromathérapie Exactement, Pierre Franchomme and Dr. Daniel Pénoël, 1990, p. 405.
- The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, 2013, pp. 166-7.
- “Plants of the Genus Zingiber as a Source of Bioactive Phytochemicals: From Tradition to Pharmacy,” M Sharifi-Rad, E M Varoni, et al., Molecules, December 2017, 22(12): 2145, https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/22/12/2145/htm
- “Two Unique Chemotypes of Plai Essential Oil,” A Butje in Aromahead Blog, June 2009, https://blog.aromahead.com/2009/06/29/plai-essential-oil
- “Essential Oil and Antioxidant Activity of Cassumunar Ginger (Zingiberaceae: Zingiber montanum (Koenig) Link ex Dietr.) Collected from Various Parts of Thailand,” Bua-in Saowaluck and Yingyong Paisooksantivatana, Kasetsart J. (Nat. Sci.), January 2009, 43(5): 467-475, http://www.jonnsaromatherapy.com/pdf/Saowaluck_