Thai Inhalers (Ya Dom) Rss feed Twitter button Facebook button

When you see Thais sniff on something in public, you may think it's a drug. Actually, it's most likely just an inhaler, called ya dom in Thai. Let's find out what these inhalers are all about...

You have probably tried an inhaler to relieve a blocked nose, which is the most common usage in the West. However, in Thailand the inhalers are not only used to relieve nasal congestion, they are also widely appreciated for their refreshing and energizing properties.

As a result, inhalers are very popular and available in a wide range of brands.

In addition to conventional inhalers, where cotton is infused with essential oils, many Thai inhalers come in liquid form or are made of small pieces of dried herbs, that have been soaked in essential oils. These inhalers come in roller bottles, regular bottles and jars.


The most common ingredients are essential oils from menthol, camphor, orange peel, pepper, eucalyptus, plai, turmeric, turpentine, anise, bergamot, clove, lemongrass and wintergreen. Each inhaler has its unique scent depending on the ingredients.


Inhalers are used to:

- Soothe the nerves, reduce anxiety and cool anger.

- Clear a stuffy nose and reduce chest congestion.

- Relieve dizziness, headache, motion sickness and nausea.

- Energize the body and mind.

- Relieve muscular aches and pains.

- Cure insect bites.

Types Of Inhalers

If you want to try out Thai inhalers, there are 2 common types in the market: Nasal sticks and liquid inhalers.

Nasal Sticks

This conventional inhaler has cotton, that has been soaked in essential oils, inside. To inhale as much essential oils as possible many Thais close a nostril, place the stick in front of the other nostril and take a deep breath. This gives you a strong and refreshing scent of the essential oils. For the same reason, some rural Thais even insert the inhaler in the nostril and leave it there for a while.

Inhalers from Thailand and Burma.

Other than conventional nasal sticks, there are inhalers that are made of small pieces of dried herbs such as clove, pepper, mace and Buddha's hand rind, that have been soaked in essential oils. Khun Prame is a well-known brand that is sold in small jars, while Jarungjit Inhaler comes in a traditional-looking metal container.

Another inhaler with dried herbs, that can be found at Burmese border crossings, is a Burmese inhaler called Ya Dom Pama, in Thai. It's packaged in a big plastic jar with a green lid.

Liquid Inhalers

Liquid inhalers are available in roller bottles and regular bottles.

A variety of Thai liquid inhalers.

The liquid is usually clear, but certain brands are yellowish, greenish or brownish. The color comes from the essential oils.

In my experience, roller bottles are more practical than regular bottles, since it's easier to apply a small amount and you can rub it in, with the roller, without getting essential oils on your fingers.

With both roller bottles and regular bottles, the essential oils are often applied on a handkerchief or just above the upper lip. Some Thais put it at the pulse point on the wrist, the way you test a perfume. Others apply it on the temples to relieve a headache. Rub it in with one hand, by placing the thumb and the ring finger on the temples. Move the hand gently in a circular motion. This temple massage is very relaxing.

Useful Tips


- The essential oils can be really strong, so to avoid any side effects, test a small amount on your skin. If you get it on your fingers, don't touch your eyes.

- Essential oils stain clothes.

- Unopened quality inhalers can be kept for over 3 years.

- If you want a conventional inhaler and a liquid inhaler in one, the following brands offer 2-in-1 inhalers: Poy-Sian, Siang Pure, Peppermint Field and Vapex.

- I find that Chuenjai and Chokdee brands have the most appealing containers.

- Be aware that a few kinds of essential oils like camphor, can be made synthetically.

Buying Inhalers

In Thailand, inhalers are sold at pharmacies and most corner stores. You can also buy then from hawkers and stalls at public places like the Victory Monument and JJ (Jatujak Market) in Bangkok, bus terminals, van depots and train stations. However, if you want to have a lot of choices, it's best to go to a big pharmacy.

The inhalers cost about the equivalent of 50 cents to 3 USD per piece.

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