What is ya dom?
The word ya in Thai translates to medicine and dom means to smell (verb). Together ya dom means medicine for smelling and is often referred to as a herbal inhaler in English. People inhale ya dom to help with vertigo, dizziness, motion sickness, blocked noses, to mask unpleasant odours or simply just to feel a little bit more refreshed.
Traditionally, ya dom are dried herbs soaked in essential oils and other compounds tied in net cloths housed in little containers. Drawing upon the knowledge of traditional Thai medicine, beneficial herbs are mixed into different recipes depending on the intended use and desired aroma. Nowadays ya dom exists in many forms, from little plastic bottles to lipstick-sized sticks and even yak (giant) shaped bottles that make great souvenirs. Some of these still use dried herbs but many now only contain solid sticks of synthesised compounds.
An older style of ya dom container with dried herbs inside (Image source | Arunsri Panichkichjaroenchai)