Photo: Khao soi in Chiang Mai.

This is a slight departure from our usual topics as we look at an excellent new Chiang Mai initiative in the field of natural medicines and beauty treatments. Skin cream, herbal shampoo, moisturiser, hair restorer (oops too late for that!)… have I finally lost the plot? I’ll admit that having (very tentatively and making sure no one we knew was watching us) entered the new store on Moonmuang Soi 6, I came out entirely convinced. I’d been hearing about the Arun Thai natural products for a while and you’ll come across them in numerous guesthouses and stores throughout the city as well as Walking Street, but since we were walking past their new store and workshop near Somphet Market we decided to pop in.

Nice display with it!

Nice display with it too.

There are other similar producers about but what made it newsworthy for me was the range of products aimed specifically at travellers (ed: this isn’t a sponsored post, by the way — none of our posts are, ever). For instance, natural alternatives to the dreaded Imodium or whatever for upset stomachs, herbal creams for heat rashes and prickly heat, balms for rucksack strap irritations, even creams for fungal infections and of course mosquito repellents.

Done a trek - heat rash, backpack sores - rotting feet!?

Done a trek so have you got something for heat rash, backpack sores, rotting feet!?

Now DEET is nasty stuff — it’s a highly potent insecticide (we read somewhere it was a component of the notorious Agent Orange), and spraying it on yourself is obviously bad for your skin apart from being bad for the environment. Yes, you may only give a quick squirt as you head off into the forest, but millions of tourists every year… well it soon mounts up, so any effective natural alternative has to be good.

Having tried Arun Thai’s natural repellent out on various guinea pig mates, it does seem at least as effective as any commercial chemical version. Unlike many available natural repellents, Arun Thai’s is not based on citronella which they point out is effective but only for a short time. Their version combines citronella with clove and basil oils but importantly the rarer, but very effective neem oil. Neem oil comes from the sadao leaf, which is a common Thai curry ingredient but also has medicinal properties that are perhaps not so well known.

The lab!

The lab!

Anyway, this is all very interesting stuff and if you’ve just got back from a trek with sore legs, upset stomach, prickly heat, rotting feet, heat rash and sore shoulders, then you can find treatments for everything here; staff are helpful and speak English and the prices are reasonable.

Arun Thai
59/1 Moonmuang Soi 6 (the top end of the soi if you walk down from Somphet or directly opposite Blue House)
T: (053) 289 653

Last updated on 16th May, 2012.

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