What do you think could be the most used accessory by Bangkok’s inhabitants? Designer bags, latest smartphones, precious jewels … nothing of that … Thai nose inhalers are the accessory that I feel with a pinch of irony can be more commonly used by Thais every day! Anyone familiar with Bangkok will have noticed from time to time how its inhabitants make extensive use of it in public, the inhalers (yaa dom) in Thailand are for the nose what cigarettes are for the mouth, almost an appendage of the body. Such use is not limited to social class so much that it is not so unusual to see rich Thais driving their Mercedes with an inhaler stuck up their noses!
Reasons behind the use of Thai nose inhalers
But what are the real reasons that drive people to abuse it so much? Certainly fashion and widespread hypochondria contribute to the phenomenon, however it is a fact that the diffusion of more or less serious respiratory problems is in a determining factor. Suddenly entering and exiting places frozen by air conditioning and the sudden rushing into the Bangkok heat is not the only cause, millions of Thais wake up in the morning completely dried up after having slept under the blasts of a fan or air conditioner. Once away from home, exhaust fumes wrap Bangkok’s streets, inhibiting and weakening the smell of its inhabitants. For all these reasons a mint inhaler blow can be a real relief. In any case, although this action can provide instant relief, there are no medical studies that confirm true health benefits, so many people abuse it more than anything else out of habit.
An important distinction that should be noted is the difference between Yaa Dom (mint inhaler), Yaa Hom creams and balms that are applied, not only below the nose but also on other parts of the body to create a pleasant sensation of freshness and to relieve the pains and finally the yaa hom which are small jars filled with herbal infusions liquids. For a Thai the nose should be kept very clean, this importance is underlined by the fact that Thais’ subconscious is dominated by aromas and smells. It is surprisingly unusual, for a country where form and harmony are very important factors, that, if a person emits bad smells in public, there is someone who is going to point it out.
Among the most used solutions, many Thai use mentholated powders that have the effect of keeping you fresh and perfumed for days, in any case the main reason why all these objects are used is also to mask the strong bad smells that you can face by walking through Bangkok’s streets. Here are some of the most popular brands that you can find in most 7-11 and many other places:
Eucalyptus oil 8.5%
Peppermint oil 3.7%
Eucalyptus oil 6.2%
Eucalyptus oil 32%
VAPEX – Relieves nasal congestion
Herbal Thai nose inhalers are available in different containers. Jarungjit’s vintage appearance is a decorative metal container with a strong cinnamon smell.
Hong Thai has a green plastic container with a bundle of herbs in yellow gauze, there is also a yellow plastic version with a brown gauze and different smell.
Konplu has a small white plastic container with a mixture of herbs