Tiger balm: application, composition and precautions.


Tiger Balm is an over-the-counter pain reliever that contains ingredients such as camphor, menthol, cayuput oil, and clove oil . It comes as a cream, gel, or liquid that is applied superficially to the area of pain and absorbed through the skin.

Tiger balm is often used to relieve various types of pain, including back pain, joint pain , stiffness, sprains, and arthritis pain .

Tiger Balm has a long history. It is produced and distributed by Haw Par Healthcare in Singapore using a "secret" herbal formula dating back to the days of the Chinese emperors. Today, more than 20 million cans of tiger balm are sold each year in more than 70 countries .

Get Medical Information / Cindy Chang

How does it work

The active ingredients in Tiger Balm are extracted from the plant and retained in the paraffin oil.

Menthol, eucalyptus, and wintergreen oil are believed to relieve pain by briefly causing discomfort, possibly distracting the pain. These medications are called anti-irritants and provide temporary pain relief.

The active ingredients include:

  • Camphor , obtained from the Cinnamomum camphora plant, induces a sensation of heat and cold on the skin and increases blood flow .
  • Menthol , which is made from peppermint oil, can cause muscle contraction within blood vessels, which has been shown to reduce pain .
  • Kajuput oil is obtained from kayuput trees and is used in some cultures to relieve toothaches and headaches.
  • Cassia oil , obtained from the bark of the Cinnamomum cassia plant, may have anti-inflammatory effects .
  • Desmetholed peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint plant and is used as a topical pain reliever.
  • Clove oil , obtained from the clove plant, is used to relieve toothache.

Tiger balm is commonly used to relieve deep pain, such as pain in the musculoskeletal system, but it has also been used for superficial pain, such as pain caused by shingles .

However, it cannot be used on open wounds. Shingles are often characterized by blisters that can erupt and crust over; These are considered open wounds and should not be treated with tiger balm.

It is also claimed to relieve headaches, sinus congestion, and discomfort caused by mosquito bites. Research has shown that it is as effective in treating headaches as paracetamol (acetaminophen) .


Tiger Balm is used only topically. And this is used by PRN , which means you can use it as needed when your pain arises. Most people will apply it several times a day and will reapply it when the pain returns. This should relieve your pain in 10 to 20 minutes.

You can use Tiger Balm even if you are using over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. You should consult your healthcare professional if you plan to use it together with another pain reliever, as this combination can irritate your skin.

Available forms

There are several different formulations available, all of which contain the same ingredients and can be used in different ways depending on the location and type of pain.

Tiger Balm formulations include:

  • Extra Strength Tiger Balm Pain Relief Ointment : This is the standard Tiger Balm ointment formula found in most drug stores. It has a strong menthol smell.
  • Tiger Balm Ultra-Strength Rub : This ointment contains more menthol for pain relief than Tiger Balm Extra-Strength and does not stain. It also has a strong menthol smell.
  • Tiger Balm Arthritis Relief – Designed specifically to relieve arthritis pain, this remedy is a cream, not an ointment. It comes with an arthritis-friendly pump and is alcohol-free, making it less likely to irritate your skin.
  • Tiger balm for neck and shoulders :   This option is designed to quickly relieve neck and shoulder pain and has a "fade scent."
  • Tiger balm patch :   Like other pain relief gel patches, this product is designed to relieve pain in larger muscles and joints. It is especially effective for shoulder and lower back pain. The smell is minimal.
  • Tiger Balsam Liniment – This is the liquid version of Tiger Balsam that can be applied to large areas for pain relief.
  • Tiger muscle balm :   Formulated to stretch muscles, this non-greasy cream helps relieve pain caused by exercise and other physical activities.

Precautions and side effects.

Tiger Balm is for external use only, should not be taken internally, and should not come into contact with the eyes or other sensitive areas such as the ear canals, vagina, or rectum. Tiger balm should not be applied to an open wound.

Test the product on a small area of the skin to make sure it is not irritating before a wide application. Skin irritation can cause pain, redness, or, in rare cases, bleeding in the affected area.

Tiger balm can also cause an allergic reaction, which can include a skin rash, swelling of the skin or throat, or difficulty breathing.

Get the word of drug information

Pain is usually associated with non-life-threatening problems, such as osteoarthritis, but sometimes the pain is caused by a serious or urgent medical condition. If you have been diagnosed with pain syndrome, you may want to consider using tiger balm. You will rate better if it works 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 over-the-counter oral or topical medications, as they can interact with prescription medications and cause side effects.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes. In addition to treating muscle pain, tiger balm helps relieve other types of pain, such as back pain, joint pain, arthritis, and sprains.

  • Yes, all Tiger Balm formulations are made up of the same ingredients. The main difference is the type of pain that needs to be treated. For example, tiger balm patch is designed to relieve muscle and joint pain in a specific area, while tiger balm ointment is a liquid form designed to treat large areas of the body.

  • No. Tiger Balm should only be used as a topical treatment. However, clove oil, one of the ingredients in tiger balm, is used as a pain reliever for toothaches.

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