Tiger Balm is a famous topical pain reliever made from herbs. The ingredients are as follows: camphor, menthol, cajuput oil, and clove oil. Nope, no actual tigers were hurt during the production of any tin of Tiger Balm.
While Tiger Balm is most likely associated with your grandmother, nana, granny, or whatever you call her, it is not a traditional medicine. It is popular with many Vietnamese who use it to relieve back and joint pain, stiffness, sprains, headaches, sinus congestion, discomfort from insect bites and arthritis. It gives you a cooling and heating sensation that interrupts other signals from muscle pain or itchy insect bites giving you relief and comfort. Westerners are likely familiar with the balm as an after-sports muscle rub. To put it in terms, it’s like a stronger rub compared to Vicks.
In case you’re wondering, white Tiger Balm is milder and can be used on the nose and lips, to aid breathing. The red Tiger Balm is slightly stronger and is great for aches and pains in joints and muscles.
You can buy Tiger Balm in various places around Ho Chi Minh City like drug stores or pharmacies, convenience stores and groceries.
For information on traditional medicines go to Your Guide to Saigon’s Most Popular Traditional Medicine Techniques