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Difference Between Red and White Tiger Balm

The main difference between red and white Tiger Balm is that white Tiger Balm has a higher concentration of mint oil which makes it less warming than red Tiger Balm.

Red Tiger Balm is used for muscle and joint pain while white Tiger Balm is used more for decongesting the nasal passages and promoting recovery after sports.

What is Red Tiger Balm?

Red Tiger Balm is a traditional Chinese ointment made from medicinal plants, the main one being camphor.

This essential oil and herbal balm is used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation and joint and muscle contractures. For the sport, it is recommended to use it before its practice for warming up.

red tiger balm

Composition of the balsam of the red tiger:

  • Camphor: up to 25%
  • Menthol: 10
  • Oil of cajeput: 7
  • Essential oil of dementholized mint: 6%
  • Essential oil of Chinese cinnamon: 5%
  • Essential oil of cloves: 5%

When applied, Tiger Balm provides both a warm and a cold sensation. The camphor and the essential oil of cloves will cause a feeling of heat while the menthol, the essential oil of menthol, and the essential oil of cajeput will rather cause a feeling of cold.

Red Tiger Balm is a topical treatment (applied to the skin) and despite its name, it does not contain any animal extracts.

What is White Tiger Balm?

White Tiger Balm is a lighter version of Red Tiger Balm. It is particularly recommended for decongesting the nose and respiratory tract. The white tiger balm is also recommended after the effort to support the recovery.

white tiger balm

Composition of the balsam of the white tiger:

  • Camphor: up to 25%
  • Menthol: 8
  • Oil of cajeput: 13
  • Essential oil of eucalyptus: 14
  • Essential oil of cloves: 1.5%

The white tiger balm is also applied in massage and causes a very pleasant hot-cold sensation.

Difference Between the Red and White Tiger Balm

red and white tiger balms

Use

Due to their slightly different composition, red tiger balm and white tiger balm should be chosen carefully to treat your ailments.

The white tiger balm, however, is more neutral and mild in nature, so it can be used in more cases than the red tiger balm.

When to use the red tiger balm:

  • to warm up your body before physical effort
  • for muscular tensions
  • for inflammations of joints and tendons
  • for constipation, diarrhea, and various stomach aches with an abdominal massage
  • to improve your blood circulation for example on the feet when it is cold

In which cases to use the white tiger balm:

  • to recover better at the muscular and articular level after the physical effort
  • for headaches with a light massage on the temples
  • for cough with a massage at the level of the thorax and the back
  • to keep mosquitoes away and relieve itching due to insect bites
  • to decongest a blocked nose
  • to relieve torticollis
  • to relax dizziness and nausea simply by inhaling the vapors of Tiger Balm when you open it
  • to relieve the itching of the skin
  • to fight effectively against the mycosis of the feet

Composition

The red tiger balm contains 5% of the essential oil from the cinnamon tree of China whereas the tiger balm does not have any. Conversely, the white Tiger Balm contains 16% of the essential oil of eucalyptus while the red Tiger Balm does not.

In white Tiger Balm, the concentration of menthol and clove essential oil is much lower than in red Tiger Balm.

Price

Red and white Tiger Balms are sold in 19g and 30g jars. Basically, red and white tiger balms are sold at the same price.

However, it is not uncommon to find better deals on the red tiger balm as it is the more popular of the two. On the internet, you can usually get red tiger balm for less than white tiger balm.

Sensations

Applied in massage, the red tiger balm causes a warmer sensation than the white tiger balm which is more "refreshing" thanks to its high concentration of eucalyptus.

Comparative Table

CharacteristicsRed Tiger BalmWhite Tiger Balm
ColorRedWhite
Main use caseTo relieve muscular and articular painsDecongest the nose and ease headaches
Intensity hot/cold sensationStrongNormal
Main sensationWarmingRefreshing
Menthol concentration10%8%
Concentration in the essential oil of clove5%1.5%
Use for sportPre-trainingPost-training
People who should not use Tiger BalmChildren under 10 years old, pregnant or breastfeeding womenChildren under 10 years old, pregnant or breastfeeding women

The History of Tiger Balm

In 1870, Aw Chu Kin, a Chinese herbalist, left China to go to Burma. He took with him a plant-based formula developed for the Chinese emperor. Afterward, he opened a herbal store called "Eng Aun Tong" so that everyone could benefit from this universal wellness.

He passed away in 1908 and left his recipe for the balm to his two sons, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par. Aw Boon Haw named the balm "Tiger Balm" and moved the headquarters to Singapore. Aw Boon Haw was a gifted businessman who made Tiger Balm known worldwide. Gradually, Tiger Balm became known for its effectiveness and reliability first in Asia and then internationally.

old tiger baum

Today, Tiger Balm is manufactured for Haw Par Healthcare in China. The range of products around the Tiger Balm has expanded since there are now lotions, patches, creams, and even mosquito repellents signed by Tiger Balm.

tiger balm products

Questions about Red and White Tiger Balm:

Where to find red or white tiger balm?

Tiger balm can be purchased without a prescription in pharmacies, on the internet, and in some Asian stores.

Which tiger balm to choose?

If you hesitate between red and white Tiger Balm, you should know that the red version is mainly used to soothe muscle and joint pains while the white version, softer, has a wider spectrum of use. The white version is mainly used to treat ENT infections (blocked nose, respiratory tract, throat, etc.)

How to use the red tiger balm?

If you want to take advantage of the benefits of the Red Tiger Balm, rub it in rather than rubbing it in. Once the area to be treated has started to heat up, you can stop your rubbing as the Tiger Balm comes into action. Repeating this 3-4 times a day will give you more results.

When you apply it, you will feel a very pleasant and soothing hot/cold sensation.

How to use the White Tiger Balm?

White Tiger Balm is applied like White Tiger Balm. You can take a dab of it and massage it in a circular motion or rub it (more effective) on the area to be relieved until it penetrates and you have a warm sensation.

To decongest the nose, for example, it is recommended to pass a little Tiger Balm between the lips and nostrils so that the vapors of the balm can be inhaled easily through the nostrils.

Should I use Saint Bernard Balm or Tiger Balm?

The Saint Bernard Balm (analgesic cream) can replace the Red Tiger Balm because it is used in case of muscular pains, tendinitis, or even contractures. It is therefore popular with sportsmen.

This balm also contains camphor and has the advantage of being less expensive. Despite the presence of camphor, the composition of these two balms is not at all the same and you will have to try one or the other to find the one that is the most effective for you.

Against mosquitoes, should I use red or white tiger balm?

Red Tiger Balm can be very effective when you unscrew its cap to keep away mosquitoes that don't like the smell of camphor. It is as effective as a chemical mosquito repellent. You can also use white tiger balm which also contains camphor, and if you have bites, it will be effective in relieving them.

How many times a day can I apply Tiger Balm?

According to the instructions for use of the tiger balm, it can be applied locally 3 to 4 times a day.

Sources

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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