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Thread: Tiger Balm - safe to use in pregnancy?

  1. #1

    Default Tiger Balm - safe to use in pregnancy?

    Good morning,

    I'm 5 weeks pregnant and last week I hurt my knee while exercising. At my physio appointment yesterday I was treated with Tiger Balm. It is fantastic stuff but I've been wondering this morning if it's safe to use in pregnancy.

    Of course the web has information on why you should and shouldn't use it. It does have anti-inflammatory properties.

    Just wondering if anyone on here might have any info?


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    in a house!


    oh sweetie, its hard to know whats right and wrong isn't it.

    Personally I wouldn't use it if its anti- inflammatory.

    You could try using ice gel which is made from menthol which is safe

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Happy Valley, Adelaide


    I asked my pharmasist the same thing and he said it's probably ok but suggested Metsal instead which I think works just as well.

  4. #4


    Thanks for the replies girls.

    I did tell my physio that I was pregnant and that was the reason I wasn't taking any Nurofen or Voltaren so he knew this info before he applied the Tiger Balm and then recommended I keep using it while my knee was recovering??

    I'm seeing him again in the morning so I'll speak to him about it then. He was saying his wife is a physio and she has had two babies so I'm sure she'll be familiar with what was safe to use in pregnancy. No doubt she would have mentioned to him if Tiger Balm was unsafe seeing it is the main thing he using in his practice apart from the usual physio gel??

    Still I'll take your advice and be on the safe side. Might give my Dr a call and quiz her - have to speak to her anyway re. blood tests.

    Thanks girls

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    soon to be somewhere exotic


    I'd be doing a search on contraindication pregnancy and then each of the oils/herbs. Some of the ingredients are not advised because they are anti-spasmodic.

    Ingredients in Tiger Balm (the white one - which is all I have at the moment)

    Menthol 8%
    Camphor 25%
    Cajuput Oil 13%
    Clove Oil 1.5%
    Dementholised Mint oil 16%


    Tiger Balm, one of the world's leading topical analgesics which relieves aches and pains, contains essential oils such clove, cinnamon and cajuput sourced from plants. It contains no animal products and is not tested on animals in any way.

    Its strength comes from a subtle mixture of camphor, mint, cinnamon, cajuput, clove and menthol, which are found to be effective for countering irritation, promoting blood flow and as a mild analgesic.

    Tiger Balm is available in two versions - Tiger Balm white with a higher concentration of mint oil, and Tiger Balm red with its comforting aroma of cinnamon. As with all medicines, always read the label before applying.

    Tiger Balm is a nonprescription ointment applied to the skin. Tiger Balm is a mixture of Menthol, Camphor, Cajeput oil, Peppermint oil, Clove oil, Petrolatum, and Paraffin.

    Use: Painful injury due to active lifestyles and people with arthritis have lead to an increase use of pain relieving remedies applied to the skin. This group of nonprescription drugs rubbed on the skin are called topical analgesics. Tiger Balm may be used for muscle aches caused by exercise or overuse; hurting from a bruise, sprain or strain; or arthritic pain. It also might be used in massage therapy to treat pain.

    How does it work? - Tiger Balm is a thick, paste like ointment rubbed into the skin to decrease the feeling of pain usually caused by muscle stress, strain or arthritis. Tiger Balm ointment works by causing a feeling of warmth, cold, or sometimes itch on the skin over the area of deeper pain. These new feelings distract from the feeling of deeper pain felt in muscles, joints, or tendons. This is like biting your lip, clenching fists or digging your nails into palms to distract from pain. This way you are think about the warmth, coolness or itching from the Tiger Balm, not the deeper pain.

    Route: Applied only to intact skin. Do not apply Tiger Balm to open sores or draining sores. Do not swallow.

    When it starts to work: Almost right away there is a feeling of coolness, followed by a warm feeling on the skin.. An added benefit to Tiger Balm is the mint-like or cinnamon smell.

    How long will it work - Tiger Balm should not be used more than 3 to 4 times per day. Do Not put Tiger Balm on an area bigger than 8 inches by 8 inches. The longer the ointment stays on the skin, the longer it will work.

    Why can't I use the ointment often? Your skin may absorb the medicine into your blood stream. Using Tiger Balm more than 4 times each day for more than 2 or 3 weeks will increase the chance of skin irritation and not help the pain as much.

    When I'll know for sure if it is going to work for me - Feelings of pain are different between people. The massage, warmth or redness from Tiger Balm causes the pain sufferer to stop thinking about the deeper pain. If you are no longer feeling the pain, Tiger Balm is working for you.



    Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes. Do not apply to broken or irritated skin. If irritation occurs discontinue use and seek medical advice. Do not use on children under two years of age. For external use only.

    Warning: Do Not Use if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Tiger Balm in your mouth will cause burning of the mouth, throat and may cause seizures. Putting Tiger Balm on an open sore will cause pain. DO NOT apply heat to any skin treated with Tiger Balm. It may cause serious injury to the skin, underlying muscles or kidneys. Do not apply along with other topical agents. DO NOT apply Tiger balm to the skin of children under 2 years of age, unless told to do so by a physician.

    Most common side effects - Menthol may cause itching, redness, or other skin changes like a rash. To protect clothing from stains, a light loose covering can be put over the area Tiger Balm is applied. A tight bandage or clothing will increase skin irritation like redness or blisters.

    Using Tiger Balm for too long will lead to it not working as well.

    Pregnancy: Camphor (an ingredient in Tiger Balm) can cross the placenta if swallowed or if too much is used. The placenta feeds food and nutrients to your unborn.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    I'm only in the 1st trimester and your comments have been really helpful for me. Today I had a headache and rather than take painkillers (trying to stay drug-free) I had a chinese massage, where they used Tiger Balm. After the event I went into a bit of a panic thinking about the possible effect of the Tiger Balm. The most problematic ingredient seems to be the camphor and I've since found so much conflicting evidence on the web... some sites saying that it is toxic should and be banned (for everyone), but then it's also found in VapourRub type products which have been used safely for decades (and aren't banned). The scientific based information that I found said that whilst it will affect your blood-flow (drawing to the surface or the skin) there is no proof that it's related to birth defects & the amount taken in through the skin is probably too small. That being said, I think I'll play it safe and avoid it in the future.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    soon to be somewhere exotic


    personally I stay away from all petrochemical by-products and we're not pregnant yet

    For a good relief for headaches, take your thumb & first finger and pinch the skin between your thumb and first finger on your other hand - this is a good pressure point

    camphor isn't the most problematic - do a bit of research on the other herbs used and you'll find that some of them are pretty bad too

    just because it is natural doesn't always mean it is un-harmful, rosemary is contraindicated in pregnancy - the amount you use in cooking is ok but using it in oil is a no-no

  8. #8


    it's not recommended to use any essential oils and/or petrochemical products in pregnancy, however, pure essential oil of lavender is relatively safe to use, especially after the first trimester. it is gently warming for muscle aches. chamomile teabags made into a warm poultice will help after the initial first 24-hour icing of an injury, as will boiled cabbage leaves. i'd be more inclined to go for a heat poultice than any essential oils, just in case.

    btw - i'm a massage and remedial therapist, trained in aromatherapy too.

    hope that helps!

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