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Tiger, tiger burning bright


Tiger, tiger burning bright

in the forests of the night

   What immortal hand or eye

            Dare frame thy fearful symmetry

                                       The Tiger, William Blake


Tiger Balm

Tiger Balm, red ointment

19g jar of Tiger Balm Red ointment

We all get the occasional aches and pains. I used to run miles across country, rock climb, abseil, play footie and rugby very occasionally, even a (very) brief bash at boxing (though the training was far tougher). All that was years and years ago. Bruises and muscle strain were part and parcel of the activity and usually shaken off with the disdain and quick healing of a youthful body aided by copious amounts of alcohol, no more…

It seems all I have to do these days is get out of bed too quick, or stretch the wrong way after a long train journey and it hurts. I make as many groans and sighs sitting down as I do standing up. OK, all a tad over-egged, but you get the picture.

Certainly a long days trek with a pack can have the muscles and joints crying out for rest and relief. Plenty of rehydration, a good meal (plenty of protein), stretching and gentle massage, a good nights kip, all go some way to alleviating the pain.

Recently I have been using a balm to give some relief from minor muscular aches and pain. It currently comes in two formulations, both of which are non-prescription. Tiger Balm Red for muscular aches and pain and Tiger Balm White for the relief of tension headaches. I have used the Red which is a reddish-brown, oily ointment. Apparently ‘inspired by centuries of Chinese wisdom’ it is made from 11% camphor, 10% levomenthol, 7% cajuput oil, 5% clove oil, also cinnamon oil, dementholised mint oil, yellow soft paraffin and hard paraffin. One glance at those ingredients and you see why it smells like it does. It is not an unpleasant smell, but the cinnamon and cloves are very noticeable. It may go some way to disguise that long term ‘hiker funk’ as well. It gives a warming effect that aids in massage, it is also advertised as giving relief from bites (especially from mosquitoes apparently) and stings though I have never used it for such. There are the usual health and warning caveats, such as not to be ingested, not for use on broken skin, not for use on children under two years of age etc.

There are hikers that massage Tiger Balm into their feet at the end of the day but I prefer Gehwol Refreshing Cream for that, but, redundancy and all that…

5g of Tiger Balm in 5g sample pot, total weight: 10g. A worthy addition to a first aid kit or ditty bag.

5g of Tiger Balm in 5g sample pot, total weight: 10g. A good addition to a first aid kit or ditty bag.

A little goes a long way. Boots pharmacy sell the little glass jar containing 19g of the balm for £4.39 (£3.95 in May ’15). It only requires a small finger tip smear to rub on whatever part of the body is aching most, so I decant a small quantity into one of the small sample pots I have blagged, gratis, from the Body Shop.

It is worth noting that a small smear of this on a piece of cotton wool, or similar, is also brilliant as a fire starter; taking a spark from a fire-steel with ease and extending the burn time of cotton wool extensively.

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