Tiger Balm – Definition and History
The balm is an epidermal parapharmaceutical substance made from an aromatic plant resin. Tiger Balm is an ointment that we have inherited from traditional Chinese medicine. The word “tiger” was used as a reference to the eldest son of Aw Chu Kin, the Burmese herbalist who was the first to develop this “magic ointment” : Aw Boon Haw was the name of the son : that means “tiger”, animal chosen for its power.
Tiger Balm was made from camphor, clove, mint and Menthol. These herbs (and healing herbs) have various therapeutic benefits. Today, Tiger Balm is sold as an ointment, pomade, oil, lotion and poultice. The balm is for external application and its numerous properties explain the wide sphere of use, from muscle pain to other spams or injuries.
The herbal treatment was practiced in India around 5000 BC. Then the “oral tradition” spread it in the rest of Asia. However, its use by Chinese healers was limited to the aristocracy (imperial sphere …). The first written document about the virtues of medicinal plants goes back to 3000 BC. It was written on clay tablets by Sumerians living in southern Mesopotamia. During the first century BC, Hippocrates (a Greek physician) had identified more than 200 plants which were particularly beneficial for women.
In 1870, the Burmese herbalist (of Chinese origin) who was practicing in Rangoon, obtained a new medicinal cream by mixing camphor, clove and menthol. Its analgesic potency was the first reason of the great success it faced. To highlight the discovery of their father, the two herbalist son decided to move to Singapore in 1926. There they created a workshop for manufacturing the product, called “Tiger Balm”. Today, this new trademark they created is world famous and sold worldwide.
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