The Balm Recipe Prepared for Chinese Emperors


Tiger Balm owes its origins to a soothing herbal balm prepared for Chinese emperors who had suffered from various aches and pains.

Chinese herbalists and healers used it for their patients as an analgesic rub blended from natural ingredients.

The fact that the formulation, which was to become Tiger Balm, survived into a more enlightened age was due to one man.

This was Chinese herbalist Aw Chu Kin, who lived in Rangoon. His desire was to treat his patients the best way he knew. He had studied the types of effective remedies and discovered that the blending of various active ingredients - such as camphor, clove and menthol - really brought relief.

Tiger Balm's formulation makes it effective as a mild analgesic, for countering irritation, and for promoting blood flow.

The entrepreneurial side fell to his two sons Aw Boon Par and Aw Boon Haw. It was Aw Boon Haw who lent his name, meaning Tiger, to the remedy. As well as being an anglicised version of Haw's name, the tiger, synonymous in the East with strength and vitality, seemed the obvious association for such a pain reliever.

They realised the potential of their father's product and together transformed his home-produced remedy into the world renowned brand it is today. Having created the brand name Tiger Balm they moved from Rangoon to Singapore in 1926.

Tiger Balm is one of the world's leading topical analgesics, with a soothing action that relieves muscular aches and pains. Tiger Balm's unique formulation contains camphor, menthol, cajuput oil and clove oil.

Today, Tiger Balm comes in two versions, the mint oil-scented Tiger Balm white, and Tiger Balm red with its comforting aroma of cinnamon oil.

Now millions of jars are bought annually throughout the world. It is available from Boots the Chemist, other pharmacies and health food stores.


Tiger Balm recipe

Ingredients: % by weight amt. needed for 56oz. batch

Menthol crystals 20% 9.6 oz.

Camphor blocks 32% 15.36 oz.

Bees wax 20% 9.6 oz.

Petroleum jelly 4% 1.92 oz.

oil of clove 8% 3.8 oz.

oil of cajuput 8% 3.8 oz.

oil of cinnamon 8% 3.8 oz.

( optional)ammonium hydroxide 1 oz.

Melt beeswax and petroleum jelly in a pot until completely liquified. Remove from heat, quickly stir in camphor blocks (may help to chop or grate camphor). Add rest of ingredients, stir until consistent, and camphor has melted. Pour into permanent container, and let congeal. The above recipe will make a nice tiger balm equivalent to the commercial white stuff. If ammonium hydroxide is added, it turns red, and adds a little more heat to it.