Yellow oil is a traditional Thai medicine with Chinese origins. It is made from a number medicinal plants, including camphor and different tubers of the ginger family.
Different versions of yellow oil are made and sold all over south east Asia and China. The families who manufacture the oil keep their recipes a closely guarded secret and most Thai people will be able to tell you about one that they consider to be superior to all the others.
So what is this stuff and what does it do? Generally yellow oil comes in small bottles, often labelled with a pleasingly solemn image of the creator. People use it for several purposes. Firstly it is rubbed into the skin to relieve the effects of cuts, burns and mosquito and other insect bites.
A second use of yellow oil is as a kind of deep heat treatment. It is massaged into the skin to help with with muscle aches and pains, cramps, aching joints and arthritis.
A further use is to treat the effects of motion sickness by opening the bottle and sniffing the oil.
It should be stressed that yellow oil is strong stuff and is recommended for external use only. It should never be consumed or placed in contact with the eyes, nose, ears or mouth.
As you would imagine Koh Chang’s Trat province has its own celebrated brand of yellow oil, called Somtawin Ang-Ki Oil.
Mae Ang Ki Somthawin learned the secrets of making yellow oil from her family, of Thai and Chinese origins, and she began selling her home-made yellow oil from door to door in her hometown of Trat. Since Trat is one of the rainiest and most fertile places in Thailand, the plants used in the production of Ang-Ki oil are apparently of particularly good quality and this makes for a better final product.
The oil has been the recipient of a number of prizes and awards.
Mae Ang Ki has two shops in Trat, and dozens of shops sell her oil all around Thailand. The oil is still made in a small factory at the family’s residence in Nong Samet, Trat.
You can find out more at: www.somthawinyellowoil.com