Tiger Balm

@melz dropped a Tiger Balm reference recently and reminded me of a product that I haven’t thought of for years.

I remember little old ladies trying really hard to sell the little hex shaped bottles of Tiger Balm in just about every city I visited in China.

“Tiger Bom!”
“Tiger Bom!”
“Tiger Bom!”

I think it was the only English they knew. I came home with many bottles of the stuff just to make a few of them happy. I can almost smell it’s distinctive odor now just thinking about it…

The Chinese ‘Vapor Rub’ is still based on a formula developed by the Aw brothers (Pictured above) in the 1920’s. Turns out that Tiger Balm has a great success story behind it:


Reminds me of the line from the Mountain Goats song, Love, Love Love:

King Saul fell on his sword when it all went wrong
and Joseph’s brother sold him down the river for a song
and Sonny Liston rubbed some Tiger Balm into his glove
Some things you do for money and some things you do for love, love, love…

I love that album so very much.

Also… history!


Is it just me or is it balmy in here?


Oh, there’s a lot of the TCM OTC treatments that were quite famous.

Along side Tiger Balm, there’s also White Flower Oil (白花油) (see SCMP feature), Po Chai pills 保濟丸 (also see SCMP feature)

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.