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China Health

20 Ways to Use Tiger Balm

For most Chinese, Tiger Balm is a classic from grandmother’s cupboard. Reason enough for Sina News to publish a “20 ways to use Tiger Balm” on their Weibo account.

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For many, Tiger Balm is a childhood household item. But for those born after the 1990s, the little red tin is something they only know from their grandmother’s cupboard. Reason enough for Sina News to publish a “20 ways to use Tiger Balm” on their Weibo account, instantly turning it into a trending topic (#清凉油的20个用法#).

“For the majority of the post-1980 generation, tiger balm is part of their past,”   Sina writes: “But for many post 1990-ers and 00-ers, it’s a historical relic. Tiger balm has so many benefits – it is really a good thing from the past. It’s a jack of all trades!” Sina and other media have shared a list of the various ways to use tiger balm.

What is known as ‘tiger balm’ in most western countries is better known as ‘soothing balm’ (清凉油 qingliangyou) or ‘essential balm’ (风油精 fengyoujing) in China; a hot/cool and fragrant balm or oil containing menthol.

imageTiger balm, essential balm and soothing balm (picture by WhatsonWeibo).

The original Tiger Balm was developed in Birma in the 1870s, by the China-born herbalist Aw Chu Kin. Different to what the name suggest, Tiger Balm does not contain any ingredients related to the tiger. The balm, containing menthol, mint oil, clove bud oil, cajuput oil and camphor, was named after Aw’s son, whose name literally meant ‘Gentle Tiger’ (Aw Boon Haw, 胡文虎). He was the son who later inherited the recipe of the balm, and turned Tiger Balm into a household name together with his brother.

Apart from the original Tiger Balm (虎標萬金油) there are various brands available in China’s stores, available from drug stores to supermarkets. According to Sina Weibo, this top 20 list contains various ways to use this household classic.

Check out our top 20 list

(Please note that this original list was published by Chinese media. If you’re in doubt about tiger balm usages and/or allergies, consult a doctor before using.)

1. Stung by a mosquito? Tiger balm can help take away the itchiness by applying it directly to the sting.

2. Tiger balm is the perfect insect repellent, as mosquitos and wasps do not like its strong scent. Leave a tin of tiger balm in every corner of the (bed)room during summertime, and leave the lid open. Mosquito’s will not enter a room that reeks of tiger balm.

3. Wooden or bamboo furniture affected by bugs can benefit from treatment with tiger balm. Put some balm on every termite hole of the affected furniture, and they will die out.

4. For those with rheumatic pains, tiger balm can be used as a painkiller by applying it in the lower back area, legs, and directly on sore muscles and bones. Apply as many times as necessary.

5. You’ve been painting the house, and now there are paint stains all over your hands and arms that are not easy to remove by water. Put some tiger balm on a cloth and thoroughly wipe your skin with it. After a couple of minutes, the paint will start letting go, and you can easily pull it off.

6. Weibo suggests that a bad body odor can be cured by the longtime use of tiger balm. Regularly apply tiger balm to the body, the list suggests, and the bad body odors will disappear. You will reek of menthol instead.

7. Got diarrhea (拉肚子)? Rub some tiger balm in and around the navel area, and cover it with the palm of your hand for two or three minutes to let the hotness work on the belly. You can also rub a little bit of balm in between the tailbone and anal area for full effect, the list suggests.

8. The list also suggests to use tiger balm when your baby has an inflamed bottom. Applying tiger balm to the anal area is said to provide some soothing relief. (We are not sure about this one, please always first consult a doctor before applying this balm on babies!)

9. For the early signs of a soar throat, apply tiger balm around the neck area before sleeping. Generously rub it around the neck with the palm of your hand, and your throat will feel better in the morning.

10. Throbbing toothache may feel better after applying some tiger balm to it. Put some balm on a cloth, and rub it into the affected area around the tooth.

11. For mild burns: lightly apply the balm to the afflicted parts. It can help alleviate the pain and avoid blisters. The earlier the balm is applied, the better.

12. Corns and calluses on the feet may disappear after consistent use of tiger balm. Smear the balm directly on to the corn. The list, like this blog, suggests that the balm is warmed with a burning cigarette to improve the balm penetrate into the corn, and to repeat it every day, one to three times a day.

13. Tiger balm is an excellent remedy against headaches. Rub some tiger balm on both temples and reapply if necessary. Be careful not to get the balm in your eyes.

14. When you got a cold and have a stuffed nose, it might help to put some balm right underneath and around the nostrils to let your nose clear up.

15. If you get carsick or seasick easily, moisten the lips with some balm to prevent nausea.

16. Just as tiger balm might help when suffering from diarrhea, it might also help with constipation. Rub some balm around the belly area to ease the stomach.

17. German soccer players have discovered that applying some balm to your chest and calves can help to alleviate the pain associated with fast running.

18. Tiger balm can also be useful when removing the remnants of stickers; rub some in, and you can peel it right off (as also suggested by Vision Times).

19. For those suffering from cold feet in winter, tiger balm might be the solution. Rub the cream into the feet to help stimulate and improve circulation.

20. Bye bye bad smells! Freshen those stinky sneakers and shoes by putting some open packages of tiger balm where you keep your shoes.

Out of Tiger Balm or still not have it in your cupboard. You can order Tiger Balm online from various places:

Buy here:
Tiger Balm White Ointment HR Pain Relief 30g (Big Size)

By Manya Koetse

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at


Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at, or follow on Twitter.



  1. Dian

    August 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. However, I am pretty sure you mean 拉肚子 instead of 辣肚子 in the 7th way. As a native Mandarin speaker, I don’t think I have ever heard of hot stomach…

    • Manya Koetse

      August 4, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Dian, it has been adjusted!

  2. Brenna

    May 2, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Do not put under your nose! I tried it the other night because I saw this, it burned so bad. I had to rub it off my face!

    • Jill

      June 14, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Hello Brenna,
      My 70 yr old aunt turned me onto Tiger Balm when I started getting horrible migraines 2 years ago. I now put very very little across my forehead, down the bridge of my nose and a tiny bit (so little) under my nose. It does take a few seconds to get used to the smell but it’s not a horrible smell. And I’m sorry it burned you, but I’ve never had it burn me. The only times I’d heard someone say it burned some was when they used too much in one area. I literally swipe my finger over the top of the balm and spread it where I need it. I never actually take a scoop or any solid part of the balm (that too me is too much). I hope this helps and you try it again in the future. It really has worked for me and I continue to tell others about it.

  3. Gavan

    May 20, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for useful sharing, so I guess someone want to know more about use tiger balm as directed on label you can have a look it.

  4. Shahpaar

    July 16, 2016 at 8:00 am

    I jokingly refer to it as my best friend. I suffer from headaches and terrible migraines, and Tiger Balm does wonders. I rub it on my temples, forehead, bridge of my nose and around my nostrils. I have been using it almost 29 years, and for me it’s a miracle worker with my pain.

  5. Yasmin

    August 6, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Hey, I’m about to buy 1 from Aliexpress. I remember the one in the 80’s was dark color but this 1 today is yellow. Is this the same item as the 80’s?

  6. Gilly

    September 8, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I have just bought some of this today from a cheap shop. It cost 98 pence for 2 jars. I used to use zambuk so I am hoping this is as good.

  7. Andrea Wood

    October 23, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I have been using Tiger Balm on sore joints and bones. The pain is decreasing, but whatever is wrong seems to be coming out of my skin in the form of redness and blisters. Do you have any idea what would have been wrong for this to be happening? I assumed that I was just having an allergic reaction at first, but then I noticed that I have no skin problem where I accidentally (later on purpose for testing) where there is no pain, but MAJOR reaction where I feel that deep pain. Any ideas what is happening?

    • Kim

      December 28, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      Hi, did you get shingles? Just a thought

  8. Babar

    October 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    i know ppl who eat this , they put it in hot coffee or tea, i was shocked every time , i barely can smell it

  9. henock

    December 21, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    What happen if I used the cream on my face

  10. Anna Estruch

    January 19, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Is this product good for nail fungus?

    • Theresa

      February 16, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      Anna it is good for nail fungus. Unfortunately the nail will turn color and you have to wait for the nail to grow out but it does work for fungus. Tea tree oil actually works best for nail fungus and no discoloration.

  11. Bert

    April 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I had someone tell me to put the balm on the tops of my feet to help with sleep. Fall asleep faster and sleep more solid. ??
    I’m combing the internet to find anything on this one and so far, not finding anything. I used some of the self stick pads a while back for tennis/golfers elbow. Only thing that helped with the pain. I keep them in supply. Going to put them on the top of my feet tonight. For better sleep, I’ll try anything.

  12. Manuel

    April 17, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Really good Article Manya, I guess I would add where you can buy some of these, if you are in Australia you can check

  13. Missy

    July 3, 2017 at 5:45 am

    I recently burned my arm with an industrial steamer. Some of the skin has broken open. It’s very sore. My doctor said to keep it moist all the time. A&D ointment or Vaseline. A friend was overseas and burnt his calf on a motorcycle and a premed student in a restaurant gave him tiger balm and he said it healed it in 5 days. But the ingredients sound like it would burn an open wound.

    • Katby

      July 6, 2017 at 5:15 am

      My daughter had an insect bite in Thailand a couple of months ago that went bad and was told to put tiger balm on it….3 days and it was better. I use it on midge bites here in UK as I get a bad reaction to them and it is amazing stuff.

  14. Pingback: Baume du tigre : les 27 meilleures utilisations | Bonheur et santé

  15. Pingback: Why Asians Put Tiger Balm on Everything

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China Health

Where Do the Tallest People in China Live?

From north to south, it’s a world of difference.

Ryan Gandolfo

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A physical anthropological study on height recently became a topic of discussion on Weibo: where in China are people tallest, and where are they the shortest?

A recent study ranking the average height of people living in various Chinese cities has triggered some discussions on social media.

The study, that was conducted by research teams from institutes in Tianjin, Inner Mongolia, and Jinzhou (China Institute of Physical Anthropology) establishes the average height of men and women between the ages of 22-40 from 31 different cities in 22 provinces around China. The outcome of the study indicates that China’s tallest people live in the more northern regions.

Specifically, China’s northern provinces of Liaoning and Jilin are home to the tallest people in the country; on average 173.45 cm for men and 160.52 cm for women. Jiangxi, Sichuan, and Hunan inhabit the shortest people on average (165.59 for men and 155.06 cm for women).

The table shows the tallest people in China based on the study.

In the study, one possible reason for the height disparity from north to south is due to latitude. As the latitude increases, so does the average height throughout the provinces. Another reason is the quality of life and economic development in various areas.

According to LiveScience, the tallest men in the world live in the Netherlands (183 cm on average), whereas the tallest women come from Latvia (170 cm). Even the people from China’s southern provinces are still much taller than the average height of those living in the country with the shortest people; the shortest men in East-Timor have an average height of 160 cm, and women in Guatemale have an average height of 149 cm.

On Weibo, reactions to the study results are nevertheless mixed, with some netizens saying they don’t trust its outcomes. Many people share their home province and personal height in hopes to prove the results are flawed – some also include the height of family and friends.

One netizen even introduced his own theory stating, “If you look at the CBA, you will see the tallest players are always from Shandong.”

Other commenters express their sympathies to the provinces where people are shortest. One commenter wrote, “Guangdong, height is no match to money” while another one claims that “great talent is the real measure of height.”

Meanwhile, some comment sections on the topic seem to have turned the discussion into a dating pool. “I’m 180 cm, and looking for a girlfriend,” one male commenter writes.

Top 5 tallest cities:

  1. Jinzhou (Liaoning Province): 173.45 for men, 160.52 for women
  2. Yushu (Jilin Province): 172.19 for men / 159.75 for women
  3. Huai’an (Jiangsu Province): 172.19 for men / 159.15 for women
  4. Haerbin (Heilongjiang Province): 172.05 for men / 160.34 for women
  5. Baoding (Hebei Province): 170.88 for men / 159.36 for women

By Ryan Gandolfo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Health

Nanchang Doctor Stirs Controversy After Bragging About Bribes on Weibo

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A young doctor from Nanchang has sparked online discussions about bribery in Chinese hospitals after boasting on Weibo that he received commission for medicine sales.

A doctor from Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, has stirred controversy online for sharing photos of supposed bribes for medicine. In September of this year, the man shared photos on his Weibo account (@Tao韬GT) of cash money, writing: “I have received 5500 yuan [±840$], again, as a commission for medicine sales. I’m happy, now I can go shopping again, it’s good to be a doctor, ha.”

The post where the man brags about getting drug “kickbacks.”

The post did not attract attention until earlier this week, when netizens exposed the issue on Weibo. It then made headlines in various online newspapers such as The Paper, Sohu News, and Sina.

A selfie by the Nanchang doctor on his Weibo profile, which states he was born in 1983.

“Bribery in hospitals is a common occurrence,” some netizens responded to the controversy: “At least this man is honest about it.”

Healthcare corruption is a much-discussed problem in China. In 2013, Quartz reporter Lily Kuo wrote that it is common for pharmaceutical firms in China to bribe doctors and hospitals to prescribe their medicine or buy their medical equipment, as low-paid doctors and nurses depend on these bribes and sales at hospital pharmacies for a large part of their income.

On Weibo, many commenters express similar sentiments regarding the Nanchang doctor, saying that it is not so much this man, but the system that is the problem. “He just tells the truth. Nowadays all hospital accept bribes”, one commenter wrote. “It would be more newsworthy if he did not accept bribes,” one person joked.

Other Weibo users suggested the Nanchang doctor purposely posted the photo to raise awareness on corruption in Chinese hospitals.

The doctor in question, however, claims he never really received bribes and that he was just making foolish jokes on Weibo. The photo of the cash money was not even his, he says, but just an image he found on search engine Baidu.

According to Chinese media outlet The Paper, the doctor was employed at the emergency department of the Nanchang Second Hospital. The hospital’s management confirmed that the man has been dismissed this week since the controversy erupted and that the case is under investigation.

“At the time, my relationship had just ended and I was feeling down and depressed,” the man wrote on his Weibo account on December 26: “I posted that because I was venting and being ironic about myself. After posting that, there were no comments on it for three months, and I thought nobody had seen it so I did not pay attention to it anymore. Who would have thought it would come out like this today, I’m so depressed. I’m left to suffer the consequences of my own actions.”

A day later, the man also wrote: “I acknowledge my mistakes. I was foolish and immature. My frivolous remarks have created much disturbance. No matter what work I will do in the future, I will face it with a mature, rational, and positive attitude. This is a lesson I’ve learned for life.”

Many netizens, however, care more about the bigger issue behind this post than the man’s apologies. One person wrote: “He was just talking rubbish and boasting, but medicine commissions are in fact a tumor in the medical industry.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact ©2014-2017


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