Overview of Tiger Balm

Tiger balm
Image provided by Amazon

Tiger Balm is a topical over-the-counter pain reliever. It comes as a cream, jell or liquid that is applied superficially to the area of pain and absorbed through the skin. Tiger Balm is often used for relief of a variety of types of pain, including back pain, joint pain, stiffness, sprains, and arthritis pain.

How Tiger Balm Is Used

Tiger Balm contains camphor, menthol, cajuput, oil, and clove oil. It is generally used for relief of deep pain, such as musculoskeletal pain, but it has also been used for superficial pain, such as the pain of shingles. There are also claims that it can relieve headaches, sinus congestion, and discomfort from mosquito bites.

You can use Tiger Balm even if you use oral over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. You should check with your doctor if you plan to use it along with another topical pain reliever because they can irritate your skin if used together.

Tiger Balm is used PRN, which means that you can use it as needed when your pain arises. Most people will apply it several times a day and reapply when the pain returns. It should relieve your pain within 10-20 minutes.

Forms of Tiger Balm

Tiger Balm is only used topically. There are several different formulations available, all of which contain the same ingredients, and can be used differently, depending on the location and type of pain.

Tiger Balm formulations include:

  • Tiger Balm Extra-Strength Pain-Relieving Ointment: This is the standard Tiger Balm ointment formula and can be found in most drug stores. It has a strong menthol scent.
  • Tiger Balm Ultra-Strength Rub: This ointment contains more pain-relieving menthol than Extra-Strength Tiger Balm and is non-staining. It also has a strong menthol scent.
  • Tiger Balm Arthritis Rub:  Designed specifically for arthritis pain, this rub is a cream rather than an ointment. It comes in an 'arthritis-friendly pump' and is alcohol-free so it should not irritate the skin.
  • Tiger Balm Neck & Shoulder Rub: Designed for fast relief of neck and shoulder pain and has a 'vanishing scent.'
  • Tiger Balm Patch: Similar to other pain relieving gel patches, this product is designed for larger muscle and joint pain relief. It works particularly well on shoulder and lower back pain. The odor is minimal.
  • Tiger Balm Liniment: A liquid version of Tiger Balm that can be applied to larger areas to relieve pain.
  • Tiger Balm Muscle Rub: Formulated for muscle strains, this non-greasy cream is designed to ease pain from exercise and other physical activity.

    Precautions and Side Effects

    Tiger Balm is for external use only, should not be taken by mouth, and should not come in contact with your eyes or other sensitive areas, such as your ear canals, vagina, or rectum. You should not use Tiger Balm on an open wound.

    You should test it on a small area first to make sure it doesn't cause irritation before applying it widely on your skin. Skin irritation can produce pain, redness, or, rarely, bleeding of the affected area.

    Tiger balm may also cause an allergic reaction, which can manifest with a skin rash, swelling of the skin or throat, or breathing difficulties.

    The History of Tiger Balm

    The name Tiger Balm sounds tough enough to battle the fiercest arthritis pain. Tiger Balm has a long history. It is manufactured and distributed by Haw Par Healthcare in Singapore, boasting a "secret" herbal formula that dates back as far as the Chinese emperors. Today, over 20 million jars of Tiger Balm are sold each year in over 70 countries.

    Products that contain menthol, eucalyptus or oil of wintergreen are believed to relieve pain through a method by which they actually induce a brief sensation of discomfort. The skin begins to feel warm or cold, possibly serving as a distraction from the pain. Such formulations are called counterirritants and offer temporary pain relief.

    A Word From Verywell

    Sometimes pain is caused by a serious or urgent medical condition, and often it is caused by a non-life-threatening problem, such as osteoarthritis. Once you have a diagnosis for the cause of your pain, you can consider using Tiger Balm. You are the best judge of whether Tiger Balm is working for you, and you can decide how often you will use it.

    Be sure to tell your doctor if you are using Tiger Balm or any other non- prescription oral or topical medications, as they can interact with prescription medications or cause side effects.

    View Article Sources