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Chinese topical pain relief: a comparison

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Tiger Balm

The iconic Tiger Balm is the best known product on this list, having made a discernible impact on North American market and become a household name across the country. Tiger Balm comes in a variety of formats, but the major two are the white and red formulas. Almost identical in composition, these two balms do have different uses, properties and effect; the red formula is notably stronger, and creates a mild heat sensation as well as a cooling one, whereas the white formula is more versatile and simply cooling.

Red

Tiger Balm Red (Strong) - Plasters, Balms and Medical Oils

Lierre Tiger Balm Red (Strong)

Tiger balm red With its slight scent of cinnamon and cloves, the red formula has a higher camphor content than its counterpart. It is therefore used mainly for pain relief, though it also creates a cooling sensation on the skin.

Uses:

  • Primarily for muscle and joint pain
  • Can be used to relieve pains caused by arthritis, backaches, over-exertion

Medicinal ingredients: Camphor, menthol, cajeput oil, dementholised mint oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil

Strength: ★★★★☆

Versatility: ★★★★☆

White

Tiger balm white As mentioned before, the white formula is more commonly used as a decongestant than the red one, due to its proportionally higher content in mint; as it is milder, it can also be less irritating to the skin for prolonged use, and very small quantities can be applied to more sensitive zones. Mucous regions, however, should still be avoided altogether.

Lierre Tiger Balm White (Regular)

Lierre Tiger Balm White (Regular)

Uses:

  • Decongesting chest, nose
  • Relief from minor headaches caused by muscular tension
  • Can be used to relieve muscle and joint pains
  • Relief from menstrual pain

Medicinal ingredients: Dementholised mint oil, cajeput oil, camphor, menthol, clove oil

Strength: ★★★☆☆

Versatility: ★★★★★

Ultra Balm

Lierre Ling Nam Ultra Balm 70ml

Lierre Ling Nam Ultra Balm 70ml

Ultra Balm, as its name suggests, is an incredibly powerful topical pain relief ointment. Its high concentration of camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus, wintergreen and peppermint oils create a cooling, soothing, almost numbing sensation over any region on which it is applied. The part of wintergreen oil is absorbed by the body, salicylic acid, is the same metabolite absorbed when taking aspirin: this balm therefore works as an anti-inflammatory as well as an analgesic. Eucalyptus also acts as a decongestant, and Ultra Balm can work wonders to clear up the chest.

Uses:

  • Powerful relief from muscle and joint pain
  • Powerful relief from chest congestion

Medicinal ingredients: Wintergreen, peppermint oil (menthol), camphor, eucalyptus

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