tiger balm, red and white


Who has NOT heard of and/or used TIGER BALM? I am happy to say that at least one of my favorite and necessary Chinese topical ointments has gained widespread familiarity and sales in the West.

Tiger Balm helps relieve muscular aches and pains, soothe tired muscles and increase circulation in arthritic joints. It will warm up your muscles BEFORE you exercise (Tiger Balm Red) and ease the soreness AFTER you’ve worked out (Tiger Balm White).

The origin of the Tiger Balm family of injury and trauma ointments is ancient and this specific formulation left China for the world in the 1870's when Aw Chu Kin, a Chinese herbalist working in the Emperor’s court, left China and set up a small medicine shop in Rangoon. Americans became familiar with and then devoted to Tiger Balm after Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49er's -who swore by it -became its official American endorser in the 80's. Tiger Balm found its spot on our local drug store shelves.

My personal testimonial to Tiger Balm goes like this:

Just weeks after giving birth to Son Number 4, I stepped outside our front door, tripped and twisted (read: really really sprained) my left ankle. It was BAD. I iced it of course. But with all that was needing to be attended to in my life, I forgot to tend to the ankle any more than that. The ankle was painful and ugly, weak, and hard to walk on for weeks and weeks before it finally stopped hurting and being a bother. Six months or so passed. I stepped outside the front door one morning, tripped and TWISTED AGAIN that left ankle!! This time however my wits were more about me. I iced and then, BROUGHT OUT THE TIGER BALM. The RED one. I slathered the ointment ALL over my ankle determined not to repeat the weeks and weeks of being out of commission. My plan was: keep the ankle covered in Tiger Balm; wrap and protect it; take CARE of it. Two or three times every day I worked over the entire ankle and most of the foot with Red Tiger Balm. I saw the swelling disappear and the bruising disappear in just days. This time, recovery took TWO weeks. TWO WEEKS. I have NEVER failed to recommend this remedy to anyone who will lend an ear and some faith!

Tiger Balm comes in two formulations:

Red Extra Strength Tiger Balm with its cinnamon aroma helps relieve muscular aches and pains, soothes tired muscles, increases the circulation in arthritic joints, warms up muscles before exercise and eases soreness after working out. It gives deep penetrating pain relief for the most persistent sprains and deep muscle tissue damage. When applied liberally, the red analgesic ointment sits on top of the skin and is absorbed over time giving continuous and consistent pain relief to affected areas. Use it to unblock sinuses and to reduce tension and stress by rubbing the Red Tiger Balm into the muscles around the neck and temples.

White Regular Strength Tiger Balm has a higher concentration of mint oil than the red balm which makes it more cooling (less warming) than the red. It too is excellent for headache relief and migraines (rub a small amount on the temples). For nasal decongestion, put a dab under your nose. It is great for post-workout muscle soreness. The white balm is non-staining (the red IS) and is completely absorbed by the skin when massaged into symptomatic areas.

Be sure to have both the Red and the White Tiger Balms in your medicine cabinet! Use them often and well.

…tiger balm update may 2019

tiger bomb.001.jpeg

Of late, my conscience or perhaps my conscientiousness has gotten hold of me. I’ve posted again about tiger balm. [See my 05/07/2019 blogpost.] Only this time it’s about why NOT to use it. Petroleum products. Right there on the label. Need I say more? Well, I have said more. In the recent blog. Check it out.

I’ve been making my own these days. Maybe you can try some instead.