Camphor and menthol

Camphor and menthol are found in a number of different plants. Because of their powerful effect, both substances are used in a purified form in Tiger Balm products.

Both have pain-relieving properties and are known in the research world as 'counter-irritants'. A counter-irritant stimulates the area of skin to which it is applied, so that the underlying painful, stiff or tired muscles are soothed and relaxed. This effect is achieved first by the activation of nociceptors (these are the receptors in the skin that are capable of perceiving pressure, temperature and the presence of chemical substances), followed by their subsequent desensitising or numbing. However, this process differs from the process generated by analgesics (painkillers), because the pain relief they provide in not caused by the suppression of the sensory receptors, but by the stimulation of the skin, as a result of which the pain signal is no longer dominant. The use of these kinds of substances dates back to ancient times.

Photographer: Marinodenisenko