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What is Herbal pain balm?

Herbal pain balm is a blend of aromatic oils that suppress pain by causing irritation on the point where the pain relief balm is applied.

Pain balms come in a variety of forms. The widely renowned types generally conform to the traditional systems of medicine. Some pain balms derive from allopathic practices, and some from traditional medicinal systems.

Tiger Balm is the best-known pain balm. It has been a household name in many East and South Eastern Asian countries for years and is slowly gaining popularity worldwide.


Most ingredients in pain balms tend to fall into a similar camp of topical pain relievers and mild histamines designed to irritate the skin just enough to distract the brain from muscle soreness. Though the ingredients of the best pain relief balms vary from one product to another, camphor, menthol or methyl salicylate form the base of all pain relief balms.

Camphor: Camphor is the main ingredient in pain balm. Camphor improves circulation and cools or warms the skin. Acting as a pain reliever and anti-itch medication, treatments for fungal infections of the toenail, warts, cold sores, and hemorrhoids also use camphor. Side effects potentially associated with camphor include liver damage, itching, redness, stinging, nausea and vomiting.

Menthol: Menthol is a derivative of the common peppermint plant that is often an ingredient in foods and other products as a flavouring agent. Medicinally menthol treats throat irritation, pain, headache, toothache, itchiness, and rashes. Menthol helps restrict blood vessels, reducing inflammation and causing a therapeutic cooling sensation. Side effects of menthol can include itchiness, rash, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Methyl Salicylate: Methyl salicylate acts as an analgesic, numbing the skin and causing the skin to feel both cool and warm. These feelings on the skin distract you from feeling the aches/pains deeper in your muscles and joints. Treatments for minor aches and pains of the muscles/joints (such as arthritis, backache, and sprains) often use this ingredient.

Cajuput Oil: Cajuput oil is a minor irritant that brings a warming sensation to the skin, acting as a counter-irritant to the pain. The oil comes from the twigs and leaves of the cajuput tree and helps treat scabies, fungal infections, colds, and toothaches. There is little data regarding the actual clinical effectiveness of cajuput oils or their long-term side effects.

Arnica: Arnica is a flowering plant that effectively reduces inflammation and swelling.

Boswellia: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Boswellia appears in traditional pain relief balms and ointments.

Cassia Oil: Cassia oil, from the bark of the cinnamon tree, works on the circulatory system and relieves digestive discomfort, such as nausea and expansive flatulence. Medications that treat erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, and kidney disorders will use this oil. It is considered safe for short-term use. However, doctors recommend against long-term or everyday usage due to the risk of liver disease.

Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a compound that relieves pain. It is often used topically in the form of creams or ointments.

Chamomile: Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that has calming properties. It also has some anti-inflammatory effects and helps in reducing pain.

Clove Oil: Clove oil is an herbal derivative frequently used as a flavouring agent or perfume. There is very little scientific data surrounding the effects of cloves, but some home remedies have used it as a topical pain reliever, a treatment for upset stomach, and an expectorant for phlegm.

Dementholized Mint Oil: Dementholized mint oil is a flavouring agent for food, candy, gum, and other products. This oil helps treat nerve and muscle pain, headache, toothache, and as a stimulant. Side effects of mint oils include nausea, skin irritation, gallstones and breathing difficulty.

Lavender: Lavender is a popular essential oil that has many different uses. It can help to relax the body and mind, as well as reduce inflammation and pain.


One of the most significant benefits of using a pain relief balm is that it can provide instant relief from pain. This relief benefits those suffering from chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis. But there are plenty of other benefits as well:

Reduces Aches, Pains, and Sprains

The camphor in pain balms helps increase blood flow on the dermatological surface. The generated warm feeling can help you eliminate stiffness and pain, forming a miracle cure.

Camphor and menthol also help increase blood circulation to the body’s different muscles. The increased circulation expedites the healing process and lowers the inflammation’s intensity.

Some muscle pain balms also include petroleum jelly with varying percentages of camphor to improve blood flow on the skin’s surface. By comparison, methyl salicylate is an analgesic that helps reduce the pain’s intensity by numbing your skin.

Pain balms containing capsicum create a warm feeling that lessens the body’s pain level. Capsicum is the main element of chilli peppers. Nerve receptors cause painful sensations, and capsicum helps block them so that the pain is not transmitted. Capsicum also reduces the pain caused by cancer, arthritis and various gastrointestinal disorders.

Relief From Splitting Headaches

Pain balms can help relieve splitting headaches, miming the effects of taking acetaminophen, whose brand name is Tylenol. To do so, apply the pain balm on your forehead and rest for a while. 

Help Heal Colds And Chest Congestion

Pain balms with camphor help eliminate sinus and thoracic congestion. The camphor has mild expectorant properties, which help decongest nasal passageways and suppress a heavy cough. And menthol helps in relieving stuffy noses by opening up clogged nasal passages. Subsequently, pain balms have been used for ages to help decongest blocked passageways caused by colds and many allergies.

Relieve Back Pain

You can help relieve lower back pain by applying pain balm, as menthol and camphor help dilate the blood vessels, which helps increase blood flow to the lower part of the back. 

Reduce Neck and Shoulder Aches

Similarly, pain balms can help get relief from neck and shoulder aches. However, the only difference is that the main constituents are menthol and methyl salicylate, which block the pain nerves and help relieve the strains on these body parts.

Reduce Joint Pain

Pain balms can also come in handy for reducing the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Bones become brittle and lose density with time, leading to joint pain. Pain balm helps to cause numbness and removes swelling and inflammation in the affected areas.

Domestic Usage

You can use pain balms as a pesticide that helps control insects like mosquitoes, cockroaches, and termites. Another use is as an adhesive for sticking things together and a deodorizer for removing foul odours from the rooms. Finally, you can use pain balms as an antiseptic to cure wounds effectively.

How to Use

Pain balm is for use on the skin only. Rub gently and thoroughly if you are using the cream, gel, or liquid. Apply to the affected area at most 3 to 4 times daily.

Do not use pain balm before, during, or after activities that raise skin temperatures, such as bathing, swimming, or heavy exercise. Then wait until your skin has cooled before applying the balm.

Wash your hands well after applying unless you use this pain balm to treat the hands. Avoid getting this medication in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you get the pain balm in those areas, flush with plenty of water.

Do not apply to severe burns or deep wounds. Do not bandage or tightly wrap the affected area. Doing so may increase the risk of side effects. You may cover the area loosely to protect clothing.

Let the pain balm dry thoroughly before allowing anyone else to touch the area. Avoid using a sunlamp tanning bed, a hot water bottle, or a heating device on the treated area, as heat can exacerbate the side effects. For specific instructions, consult the manufacturer’s website.

Even if you have used the product before, read the ingredients on the label. The manufacturer may have altered the components. Furthermore, items with identical names may include different chemicals with different functions. Make sure you are using the correct product by carefully reading the brand. Consult your pharmacist if you have any concerns.

Risks and Side Effects

One of the most important things to remember is that not all pain relief balms are created equal. Some contain ingredients that can be irritating or even dangerous if misused. So, it’s essential to research and ensure you’re using a product that contains only safe and gentle ingredients. Testing a small amount on the forearm is best if someone has not used pain balm before. Wait a full day and check for reactions before applying the balm to a larger area.

In addition, it’s also important to be aware of the potential side effects of pain relief balms. The most common side effect is skin irritation, which can usually be avoided by applying the balm sparingly and avoiding contact with broken skin. Other potential side effects include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms after using a pain relief balm, stop using the product immediately and consult a healthcare professional.

Do not apply pain balm in the following circumstances:

  • 1 hour before or 30 minutes after exposing the skin to hot, humid conditions, including a hot shower, a sauna, or a hot tub
  • On broken skin or open wounds
  • On irritated, inflamed, reddened, chapped, or dry skin
  • On mucous membranes, such as those in the mouth, nostrils, vagina, rectum, or penis
  • To the inner ears
  • To burned skin
  • To skin already warmed by other products, such as heating pads

Store pain balm away from children; do not use it on those under 12 unless a doctor recommends it.

There is little research on the safety of using pain balm during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Speak with a doctor before using it at these times.

Where To Purchase

If you are interested in getting a balm for your medicine cabinet, be warned that it is challenging to find the original formula of Tiger Balm. Most of what you see at pharmacies is a different formula than Thailand’s excellent Tiger Balm. So the best place to search for different types of herbal balm is on AliExpress. AliExpress has more suppliers from the East who sell hard-to-find products from Asia than Amazon. It sometimes takes longer for your product to arrive, but it is worth the wait.

How to Make Pain Balm


  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of beeswax pastilles
  • 1 tablespoon of menthol crystals
  • 12 drops of camphor essential oil
  • 11 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 9 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  • 7 drops of clove essential oil
  • 7 drops of cinnamon essential oil
  • Double boiler
  • 4 oz glass jar for storage


  1. Melt the beeswax, menthol, and olive oil using a double boiler until thoroughly dissolved.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool for 2 minutes, then add your essential oils.
  3. Stir the mixture well, then pour into your tin or jar.
  4. Allow the mixture to set and harden completely before using.
  5. Use a small amount for pain where needed.


  • IMPORTANT: Do not rub Tiger Balm on open wounds, irritated, sunburned or chapped skin. The menthol can cause further irritation.
  • Avoid getting this mixture in your eyes or mouth, so wash your hands after applying. Trust me; you don’t want to rub your eyes with this still on your hands accidentally.
  • Use the recommended amount of essential oils in this recipe, as they are very potent and can cause burning sensations if used excessively.
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