Article 3: Amazing Thai Herbs and Spices
Many herbs and spices used in Thai cuisine have beneficial medicinal properties. Herewith some examples ( you can find some technical terms below)
Chili.jpg - 9633 Bytes CHILLI
"Phrik" in Thai Chilli is an erect, branched, shrub-like herb with fruits used as garnishing and flavouring in Thai dishes. There are many different species. All contain capsaicin, a biologically active ingredient beneficial to the respiratory system, blood pressure and heart. Other therapeutic uses include being a stomachic, carminative and antiflatulence agent, and digest
Cumin.jpg - 2023 Bytes CUMIN (Cummin, Zeera)
"Yi-ra" in Thai Cumin is a small shrubbery herb, the fruit of which contains 2 to 4 % volatile oil with a pungent odour, and which is used as a flavouring and condiment. Cumin's therapeutic properties manifest as a stomachic, bitter tonic, carminative, stimulant and astringent.
Garlic.jpg - 5785 Bytes GARLIC
"Kra-thiam" in Thai Garlic is an annual herbaceous plant with underground bulbs comprising several cloves. Dried mature bulbs are used as aflavouring and condiment in Thai cuisine. The bulbs contain 0.1 to 0.36 % garlic oil and organic sulfur compounds. Therapeutic use are as antimicrobial, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, antiflatulence and cholesterol lowering agents.
Ginger.jpg - 6013 Bytes GINGER
"Khing" in Thai Ginger is an erect plant with thickened, fleshy and aromatic rhizomes. Used in different forms as a food, flavouring and spice, Ginger rhizomes contain 1 to 2 % volatile oil. Ginger's therapeutic uses are as a carminative, antinauseant and antiflatulence agent.
Galangal.jpg - 1496 Bytes GREATER GALANGA(False Galangal, Galangal)
"Kha" in Thai Greater Galanga is an erect annual plant with aromatic, ginger-like rhizomes, and commonly used in Thai cooking as a flavouring. The approximately 0.04 volatile oil content has therapeutic uses as carminative, stomachic, antirheumatic and antimicrobial agents.
Hoary Basil.jpg - 6804 Bytes HOARY BASIL
"Maeng-lak" in Thai Hoary Basil is an annual herbaceous plant with slightly hairy and pale green leaves, eaten either raw or used as a flavouring, and containing approximately 0.7 % volatile oil. Therapeutic benefits include the alleviation of cough symptoms, and as diaphoretic and carminative agents.
Kaffir Lime.jpg - 6270 Bytes KAFFIR LIME (Leech Lime, Mauritus Papeda, Porcupine Orange)
"Ma-krut" in Thai The leaves, peel and juice of the Kaffir Lime are used as a flavouring in Thai cuisine. The leaves and peel contain volatile oil. The major therapeutic benefit of the juice is as an appetizer.
Kra-Chai2.jpg - 6082 Bytes "KRA-CHAI" in Thai
(No Common English Name) This erect annual plant with aromatic rhizomes and yellow-brown roots, is used as a flavouring. The rhizomes contain approximately 0.8 % volatile oil. The plant has stomachache relieving and antimicrobial properties, and therapeutic benefits as an antitussive and antiflatulence agent.
Lemon Grass.jpg - 6392 Bytes LEMON GRASS (Lapine)
"Ta-khrai" in Thai This erect annual plant resembles a coarse grey-green grass. Fresh leaves and grass are used as a flavouring. Lemongrass contains 0.2-0.4 % volatile oil. Therapeutic properties are as a diuretic, emmanagogue, antiflatulence, antiflu and antimicrobial agent.
Lime.jpg - 5713 Bytes LIME (Common Lime)
"Ma-nao" in Thai Lime is used principally as a garnish for fish and meat dishes. The fruit contains Hesperidin and Naringin, scientifically proven antinflammatory flavonoids. Lime juice is used as an appetizer, and has antitussive, antiflu, stomachic and antiscorbutic properties.
Mint.jpg - 5882 Bytes MARSH MINT
"Sa-ra-nae" in Thai The fresh leaves of this herbaceous plant are used as a flavouring and eaten raw in Thai cuisine. Volatile oil contents give the plant several therapeutic uses, including carminative, mild antiseptic, local anaesthetic, diaphoretic and digestant properties.
Pepper.jpg - 6061 Bytes PEPPER
"Phrik-Thai" in Thai Peper is a branching, perennial climbing plant from whose fruiting spikes both white and black pepper are obtained. Used as a spice and condiment, Pepper contains 2-4 % volatile oil. Therapeutic uses are as carminative, antipyretic, diaphoretic and diuretic agents.
Holy Basil (Sacred Basil).jpg - 6736 Bytes SACRED BASIL (Holy Basil)
"Ka-phrao" in Thai Sacred Basil is an annual herbaceous plant that resembles Sweet Basil but has narrower and oftentimes reddish-purple leaves. The fresh leaves, which are used as a flavouring, contain approximately 0.5 % volatile oil, which exhibits antimicrobial activity, specifically as a carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant and stomachic.
Shallot.jpg - 6354 Bytes SHALLOT
"Hom, Hom-lek, Hom-daeng" in Thai Shallots, or small red onions, are annual herbaceous plants. Underground bulbs comprise garlic-like cloves. Shallot bulbs contain volatile oil, and are used as flavouring or seasoning agents. Therapeutic properties include the alleviation of stomach discomfort, and as antithelmintic, antidiarroheal, expectorant, antitussive, diuretic and antiflu agents.
Sweet Basil.jpg - 6145 Bytes SWEET BASIL (Common Basil)
"Ho-ra-pha" in Thai Sweet Basil is an annual herbaceous plant, the fresh leaves of which are either eaten raw or used as a flavouring in Thai cooking. Volatile oil content varies according to different varieties. Therapeutic properties are as carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, digestant and stomachic agents.
Turmeric.jpg - 6562 Bytes TURMERIC (Curcuma, Indian Saffron, Yellow Root)
"Kha-min" in Thai Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, and provides yellow colouring for Thai food. The rhizomes contain 3 - 4 % volatile oil with unique aromatic characteristics. Turmeric's therapeutic properties manifest as a carminative, antiflatulence and stomachic.
Details supplied by the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR)
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Technical Terms: Thai Herbs and Spices

Anthelmintic:An agent destructive to gastro-intestinal tract parasites
Antidiarrhoeal: An agent effective in combatting diarrhoea
Antidysentry: Preventing, alleviating or curing dysentry
Atiflatulence: Relieving or preventing excessive amounts of gas or air in the stomach or intestine
Antiemetic (Antinauseant): An agent preventing or alleviating nausea or vomitting
Antiinflammatory: Counteracting or suppressing inflammation
Antipyretic : Relieving or reducing fever
Antitussive : Relieving or preventing coughing
Antispasmodic: Relieving muscular spasms
Antistringent : Causing usually local contractions after topical application
Antiscorbutic: Effective in the relief or prevention of scurvy
Carminative : Relieving flatulence
Digestant : Assisting or stimulating digestion
Diaphoretic: Pertaining to, characterised by, or promoting perspiration
Diuretic : Increasing the secretion of urine
Expectorant : Promoting the ejection, by spitting, of mucus or other fluids from the lungs and trachea
Emmenagogue : An agent or measure inducing menstruation
Stomachic : A medicine promoting functional activities of the stomach
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