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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#).

 

Update 2018: Also read our tips on how to use Tigerbalm by Chinese social media users here.

 

“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 info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  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 http://balmtiger.com 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 http://www.tiger-balm.com.au

  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. Xolani

    April 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Hi
    Does this product Tiger balm helped when you have a problem with early ejaculation?
    If is yes please explain to me how and when. someone told me that I should rubbed my penis it will help. please reply on my email address.

    Thank you looking forward to your responds

    kinds as
    Xolani

  15. Tiger Balm

    May 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Hi Manya, it is indeed an inspiring article to show what advantages the Tiger Balm can do for us in our everyday life. Many people are just aware of the regular usage of muscle pain and against flu related issues, but very view people actually know that it is the grandparents secret weapon against so many things at home. The
    Tiger Balm Uses are far beyond ones imagination. All the best, Sunisa 🙂

  16. Ryan

    June 24, 2018 at 11:37 am

    What is the difference between the red and the white??
    I’ve only used the red and I know it is AMAZING for Burns, headaches, and Grandpa’s sore legs, joints and muscles from RA. HES HOOKED! lol. Wasn’t sure if the white would be better for his pain relief?

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China Health

Chinese ‘Scientific’ Study Claims Acupuncture Performed on Parents Can Cure Their Children

“How could such a study be published in a renowned scientific publication?,” some wonder.

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Cartoon published by Beijing News in response to the study, by illustrator Liu Jun 刘俊.

A Chinese study published in a renowned academic periodical has received much online attention this week. The research, that suggests sick children could be cured by performing acupuncture on their parents, has generated waves of criticism – many of those commenting are doctors themselves.

A Chinese academic publication has stirred controversy recently, nearly a year after it was published.

In November of 2017, the Chinese journal Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion (中国针灸) published an article titled “Discussion on Quantum Entanglement Theory and Acupuncture” (试论“量子纠缠”与针灸), written by Wang Jun (王军), Wu Bin (吴彬), and Chen Sheng (陈晟), who are affiliated with Beijing’s Dongzhimen Hospital and its Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

The authors of the study suggest that there is a so-called ‘quantum entanglement’ between parents and children.

As explained by Science Daily, ‘quantum entanglement’ refers to the idea that “two particles, no matter how distant from each other in space and time, can be inextricably linked, in a way that defies the rules of classical physics.” (Read more on quantum entanglement here).

A summary on the first page of the published paper.

In the controversial paper, Wang and the two co-authors argue that the characteristics of quantum entanglement are reflected in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture theory, and clinical practice, and that acupuncture on a parent would theoretically also be able to treat their children; in other words, suggesting that a sick child (or a child in pain) could benefit from a mother undergoing acupuncture. The same principle would apply to sibling relationships.

Author Wang Jun and co-authors describe they have conducted experiments with 15 patients with pain symptoms and their direct relatives to prove their theory; 14 of these patients and their relatives were put in the same room when receiving the acupuncture treatment, while one patient was separated from their relatives when they received the treatment. Upon completion, the results indicated that all patients’ pain symptoms were at least somewhat alleviated. In four patients, the pain even disappeared.

The study received online attention when it was discussed on popular Q&A platform Zhihu.com and on a science blog earlier last week (September 14).

 

As a doctor, I’m speechless after reading this.”

 

On Zhihu.com, segments of the article were republished online, with the main poster asking: “How should we evaluate the ‘Discussion on Quantum Entanglement Theory and Acupuncture’ (试论“量子纠缠”与针灸)?”

The question, that was viewed more than 80,000 times, received many replies. One comment from a Beijing medical doctor (verified account) named Dr. Zeng said:

(..) “As a doctor, I’m speechless after reading this. This was published in the scientific journal Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion (中国针灸). Based on what I found online, this magazine was founded in 1981 and falls under the responsibility of the Chinese Science and Technology Association (中国科学技术协会); it’s a monthly joint effort by the Chinese Acupuncture Association and the Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a publication that is at the core of Chinese science and technology, it is a periodical that is at the core of Chinese-language science, and China’s scientific databases (..) In other words, it is a very authoritative publication within the domain of acupuncture. Your research has to be quite great in order for it to be published in it.”

The full version of the publication can be found in the online China Academic Journals Full-text Database, better known as CNKI (中国知网), a national online database under the lead of Tsinghua University.

Dr. Zeng continues:

To suggest that when children fall ill, their parents just need to undergo some acupuncture and they’ll be fine, because there is ‘quantum entanglement’ (量子纠缠) among blood kins – saying that acupuncture on the parents is equal to acupuncture on the children -, this is really serious. According to this theory, we might as well cancel pediatrics.”

The doctor further reprimands the magazine and the authors for letting such a controversial study enter the publication, and thus international academic databases.

 

The only thing that the researchers of this paper prove, is that they themselves need to be treated.”

 

The study, further also criticized on a Science Net blog (where parts of the study were also republished), then started to gain attention on Weibo and other social media platforms, where many popular accounts started spreading the study’s findings.

As a result, netizens started ridiculing the “miraculous” theory and let their imaginations run wild about all the future treatment possibilities. One Weibo users jokingly wrote: “This is a nice new way to discover who your real father is. If the treatment on your father doesn’t bring about any positive results on you, you might have to talk to your neighbor and let him undergo the treatment instead.”

One of the most popular Weibo comments said: “The only thing that the researchers of this paper prove, is that they themselves need to be treated.”

Hashtags such as “Treat the mum with acupuncture if the child gets sick” (#孩子生病扎他妈治疗#)received more than four million views at time of writing.

The research also received attention in Chinese newspapers and online media, where reporters asked other scientists to comment on the controversy.

In an interview in the Science and Technology Daily (科技日报), Zhang Wenzhuo (张文卓), an associate researcher at the Institute of Quantum Information and Technology Innovation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (中国科学院量子信息与量子科技创新), said that the theory presented by Wang Jun and his co-authors is a “very irresponsible abuse of the quantum theory.”

 

It is swindlers such as these who have destroyed TCM.”

 

Since the research has gone viral on Chinese social media, Beijing Dongzhimen Hospital has responded to the controversy from its Weibo account (@北京东直门医院) with an official statement.

The statement confirms that the authors of the publication are affiliated to the Dongzhimen Hospital of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, and says that the hospital has let other experts look into this research.

“After getting an understanding of the situation and closely examining the paper,” they write: “we believe that the theory belongs to the authors’ individual thinkings which they based on connected theories and phenomenon (..)”, and that this particular theory “is not instructive for clinical medicine.”

One of the most popular comments replying to the statement comes from a Suzhou doctor in internal medicine (verified account), who says: “In all seriousness, this is some serious nonsense (“一本正经的胡说八道”).”

Many people also take this research as an opportunity to criticize Traditional Chinese Medicine. “Traditional Chinese Medicine are a national treasure, but too many people use it to cheat on others,” one another commenter writes. “It is swindlers such as these who have destroyed TCM,” another person replies.

Amidst all condemnation of the research, there are some voices on Weibo who are pleading for people to look deeper into the research before attacking it. Others also respond to those saying that Traditional Chinese Medicine are not scientific, saying: “First, make sure you clearly understand what science is.”

According to Chinese online media outlet The Paper, the study’s authors have not responded to any requests to comment on the controversy over their theory.

By Manya Koetse and Gabi Verberg
with contributions from Miranda Barnes

Featured cartoon published by Beijing News in response to the study, by illustrator Liu Jun 刘俊.

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 info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Health

The Essential Balm: How to Use Tiger Balm & Qing Liang You

The best ways to use Tiger Balm according to Chinese social media users.

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Some Chinese social media users claim Tiger Balm (or ‘Essential Balm’) is a “cure-all” product (包治百病) – why this century-old product is still popular today: the how-to-use tips from Weibo users.

What is simply known as ‘Tiger Balm’ in most Western countries, is also known as Fēng yóu jīng (风油精, lit. ‘wind oil’) or Qīng liáng yóu (清凉油, lit. ‘cool oil’) in China, usually translated as ‘Essential Balm.’

The translation ‘essential’ is quite literal in the sense that the balm is in fact essential to many Chinese households; virtually all pharmacies, supermarkets, airports shops and convenience stores in the PRC will sell it.

The over-the-counter balm (or oil) is a product that often pops up on Chinese social media. A recent video on streaming platform Billibilli calls it a “cure-all” product (包治百病), while netizens on Weibo share tips on how they use the balm on a daily basis.

Qingliangyou and fengyoujing; the essential oils/balms, via Billibilli.

The Tiger Balm brand name in Chinese is Hǔbiao Wànjīnyóu (虎標萬金油), which literally means ‘tiger-marked jack of all trades.’

All of these balms or oils are practically the same kind of ‘heat rubs,’ topical preparations for application to the skin, mainly made from menthol, camphor, clove oil, mint oil, and cajuput/eucalyptus oil.

The Chinese fengyoujing is an oily liquid that comes in a small bottle (10ml), while both the Tiger Balm brand and so-called ‘Essential Balm’ (various brands) come as balsam in a small tin. Because the first-mentioned is more easily applied as liquid, its effects are somewhat stronger than the balm.

 

A Tiger Balm History

 

The original Tiger Balm was developed in Birma in the 1870s, by the Fujian-born herbalist Aw Chu Kin (Hu Ziqin 胡子钦). Different to what the name suggests, Tiger Balm does not contain any ingredients related to the tiger, but was named after Aw’s son, whose name literally meant ‘Gentle Tiger’ (Aw Boonhaw or Hu Wenhu 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 (Hu Wenbao 胡文豹).

Aw Chu Kin was born in a small village. His father was also a herbalist, but the family was very poor. In search for a better live, the young Aw later moved to Birma (Myanmar), where he set up his own apothecary in Yangon in 1870 under the name of ‘Eng Aun Tong’ (永安堂药行).

Aw had three sons and a daughter. When he passed away in 1908, he left his company to the two sons who had helped him with his business. They later moved to Singapore, where they continued their father’s business and officially launched Tiger Balm as a brand in 1925, based on their father’s recipes.

The brothers used a remarkable promotion method for their balm; from 1926 on, they drove a vehicle that had a big tiger head on its front (see image). The horn of the car sounded like a tiger roar – a good way to attract the attention of people and to give them some free samples of their balm.

 

How to Use Tiger Balm: General Uses

 

The century-old product is still wildly popular today, with various companies now producing (nearly) identical products.

Note: not recommended to use for pregnant women, children under the age of 3, avoid contact with eyes, keep out of reach of children, and do not apply to injured skin or burns. If you’re in doubt about tiger balm usages and/or allergies, consult a doctor before using.

Among the main purposes of Tiger Balm and Qing Liang You is that it can be used as an anti-itching remedy for mosquito bites and insect stings.

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

Tiger Balm is also said to be helpful against a cold and have a stuffed nose, by putting some balm right underneath and around the nostrils to let the nose clear up.

To prevent dizziness and carsickness, the balm can be used to slightly moisten the lips or temples to prevent nausea.

 

Social Media Tips

 

On Weibo, dozens of people share their use of Tiger Balm and the likes on their accounts every day – especially during the hot summer.

* Some Chinese students simply recommend keeping a small tin of balm nearby for those late study hours; they claim sniffing the balm awakens the mind.

* “I apply some balm before I take a shower,” one commenter says: “Now my whole body feels cool as a breeze.” By applying some balm to parts of the body, the skin gets cooled – a comfortable feeling in times of hot weather or fever.

* Social media user Xixi (@西西咕噜咕噜) uses Tiger Balm in hot summer days. Opening up the lid of the balm a few times a day in front of the van spreads its cooling breeze throughout the room: “I’m crazy about this fragrance.” (Tip! Mosquitos and other insects dislike this smell; this method is also effective as a repellent.)

* “I’ve been suffering from a head-ache for days,” a Weibo user named ‘I’ve been studying for hours today’ (@今儿学了几个小时) says: “Rubbing some qingliangyou on my temples really helps.” Tiger balm is often promoted as a remedy against headache, by rubbing some tiger balm on the forehead or temples (mind your eyes).

* “After cutting red peppers, you can smear some Tiger Balm on your fingers,” another Weibo user (@萍了早煤) writes: “also use some plain vinegar to wash it off. It helps.”

* “You can use Tiger Balm / Qing Liang You to improve blood circulation and decrease swellings,” one Guangdong micro-blogger writes. It is indeed said that one of the active ingredients, camphor, dilates the blood vessels and brings blood closer to the skin’s surface; increasing circulation and warmth.

* Another popular Weibo account (@好运逗比) recommends rubbing some drops of the fengyoujing (the liquid rub) to the soles of the feet before wearing shoes to prevent smelly feet at the end of the day.

* There are also Weibo accounts recommending Tiger Balm / Qing Liang You as the must-bring item on travels to prevent mosquito bites, car or sea sickness, and for treatment of headaches.

* There are also some people who say they use Tiger Balm on their face as a way to treat acne/pimples, but we’d highly recommend consulting with a doctor before doing so, as the balm is not recommended to be used on irritable skin.

Still not had enough tips? You can check out one of What’s on Weibo’s earliest articles, titled ‘20 Ways to Use Tiger Balm,’ for more tips on how to use this ‘jack for all trades’ balm.

By Manya Koetse

Where to Buy

Tiger Balm is practically available everywhere. Check your local pharmacy or convenience store. The brand also has an online shop where their products can be purchased. For small cases of essential balm to carry with you at all times check here.

The Temple of Heaven balm can be purchased at Beijing airport and many other places, but online it is purchasable here.

The classic oil, which is somewhat stronger, is available here.

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 info@whatsonweibo.com.

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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 info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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