How does Tiger Balm work exactly?

how does tiger balm work

Muscular pain is considered by the Tiger Balm experts as the most common and disabling symptom that a person can experience. In fact, the WHO (World Health Organization) statistics show that more than 80% of people will suffer from any kind of muscular pain at least once in their lives. This fact explains why many pharmaceutical companies and physicians have been dedicated for many years to discover the best alternative to eliminate or treat the muscle pain.

What is Tiger Balm?

The tiger balm ointment is an herbal-based balm considered to be one of the first treatments used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used for more than 100 years. This balm has received this name because, formerly, its main component was the fatty tissue of the tiger. However, nowadays, the pharmaceutical industry has changed its composition to improve its properties and to make it easier to produce.

There are different presentations of tiger balm. However, the most popular are the red and white balm. Although these balms are pretty similar, the white tiger balm produces a freezing effect. It is recommended for the treatment of headaches/migraines, bumps, cough, mosquito bites and muscular pain. While the red tiger balm produces a hot sensation and it is recommended for treating the most persistent sprains and deep muscle tissue damage. These differences in the recommendations are due to the fact that tiger red balm is the most potent ointment among the Tiger Balm range. It penetrates the skin and muscle tissues bringing relief to the deepest areas of the body.

The effects of tiger balm are due to the qualities and effects of all the herbs that compose it which have amazing properties. Here are the main herbs that tiger balm contains:

Tiger Balm Ingredients Overview:

Camphor (25%):

Camphor oil is obtained from different types of camphor trees (especially Cinnamomum camphor or Borneo Camphor tree). One of the main properties of Camphor is that it warms the area of the skin where it is applied. This which causes vasodilation and, in consequence, facilitates blood circulation and improves the activity of the circulatory system. However, when it is applied gently, it produces a cool sensation.

Camphor also prevents skin infections and it is an excellent anesthetic. Some experts even say that it can be used as local anesthesia. The reason is that it numbs the end of sensory nerves in all the area where it is applied.

Camphor has anti-inflammatory properties, acting in both internal and external inflammation. This is important because due to their anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties, it can also relieve neuralgia pain by helping to reduce the inflammation of the nerves and the surrounding tissues. This way, the nerve is less tight and the pain decreases or even disappears. Many experts also recommend camphor for treating arthritis.

Menthol (Red 10% and White 8%):

Menthol is an organic substance extracted from peppermint essential oil which can be found in many trees. It has been widely used to relieve muscle aches and cramps due to their painkiller effects. This property is due to the fact that menthol has a natural analgesic property mediated by ligands, which join the kappa-Opioid receptors and numbs the area. This is why it can also be used as a local anesthetic in certain quantities, and it has a very similar effect than propofol. It also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Furthermore, it also regulates the blood vessels contraction, causing vasodilation, which increases the blood flow in the area, bringing more nutrients to the tissues and removing all the waste products, which accelerates the cellular repair process.

Menthol joins the sodium channels and reduces or blocks their activity. Sodium channels are closely related to pain sensation and muscular movement, so when they are blocked, the muscular movements decrease, the muscle gets relaxed and the pain disappears in the area where menthol was applied. Finally, menthol has anti-inflammatory properties, acting in the same way than Camphor, which was already explained above.

Cajuput Oil (only red balm, 7%):

Cajeput oil (also called cajuput oil) is obtained from Melaleuca leucandendra or white wood tree. This oil is decongestant and expectorant, so the tiger red balm can be used to relieve nasal and chest congestion.
Cajeput oil is also a powerful painkiller, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antineuralgic agent. The painkiller property is due to the fact that it warms and numbs the area where it is applied, reducing the pain sensation for some time in that area.
Likewise, their anti-inflammatory effect is pretty similar to the Camphor and Menthol action and potentiates it, which also helps to provide a long-lasting relief from pain.

Dementholised Mint Oil (only red balm, 6%):

Dementholised Mint Oil also known as Corn Mint Oil is a by-product obtained from the process of producing Menthol crystals. It is believed that it acts as a calcium antagonist, which is a very important molecule in the muscle contraction. When calcium receptors are inhibited, the muscles’ can’t contract, so the muscle gets relaxed and the pain disappears. Likewise, it helps to reduce swelling, which also helps to relieve the pain sensation in both muscles and joints.

Dementolished mint oil can be administered orally (in form of dietary supplements) or topically (as a skin cream or ointment).

Clove Oil (Red 5% and White 1.43%):

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Clove oil (Eugenia caryophyllata) is obtained from the unopened pink flower buds and leaves of the tropical evergreen tree. It is recommended for many health conditions such as improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation. Clove oil is also considered an excellent anti-inflammatory and strong pain reliever. You will feel a numb sensation in the area where it is applied. Likewise, clove oil is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antifungal, so it prevents the growth of many types of germs (more than 60) in the skin.

Cassia oil (only red balm, 5%):

Essential oil of cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) is a natural oil obtained by steam distillation of Chinese cinnamon’s leaves and twigs. This oil is widely used for its anti-depressant effects. Because it is able to uplift mood and induce warm feelings in the body and mind.

This effect is also boosted by the activation of the nervous system and the brain. So you are more active and alert. Likewise, cassia oil stimulates the circulatory system. It brings warmth to the areas where it is used (as muscles and joints), helping to relieve uncomfortable conditions. It is also an excellent anti-viral and inhibits microbial growth, so it potentiates the effect of the other components of tiger balm.

Eucalyptus oil (Only white 13.7%):

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Eucalyptus essential oil is a natural oil obtained from the fresh leaves of Eucalyptus globulus. It is commonly called the tall, evergreen eucalyptus tree, blue gum tree or stringy bark tree. In aromatherapy, this oil is recommended as it can stimuli the brain and nervous system. Also, it can remove the exhaustion and mental sluggishness to relieve stress.

This oil contains chemicals (such as a-pinene, b-pinene, a-phellandrene, 1,8-cineole)) which interact with some receptors and help to reduce the tissues’ inflammation and pain. So, it helps to boost camphor and menthol actions in relieving joint and muscle pain when applied to the skin.

It also helps to diminish the stress and the pain in the muscles and other surrounding tissues (such as tendons). This property makes it an excellent option for people who suffer from rheumatism and stiff muscles aches, and even nerve pain. In addition, it can also be used to reduce the inflammation of the respiratory tract in order to treat asthma and sinusitis.


The combination of all these herbs makes the Tiger Balm the world’s leading analgesic remedy. It is an excellent option for treating chronic pain in many areas of the body. All these components are considered safe and effective. They have been proven in various studies, and it works where it hurts.

Tiger red and white balms are especially recommended for people with chronic and degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, osteoarthritis, scoliosis, among others. The experts say that applying the balm with circular massages at least once a day over the affected area can help to improve the joint function. Its range of movement and relieve of pain in the muscles and other surrounding tissues.

Other benefits of Tiger Balm Ultra, red and white are the fact that it can be used in both young and old people. It practically has no contraindications. It is pretty safe to be of topical use. Also, it makes it easier to clean or remove from the skin in case of observing any adverse reaction due to an allergy to any component.

Remember that only a qualified doctor can determine the best way of treatment for each person according to his/her particular needs, characteristics and concomitant diseases. So, if you are interested in acquiring these products, please contact us and we will gladly answer all your questions and help you to better understand how our product works.

This article was written by Doctor Med. Aurelysmar Grimán graduated from Universidad Centroccidental “Lisandro Alvarado” exclusively for

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