Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tantric Turd: A little meditation on the wonderful Tiger Balm

In a recent post, Claudia wrote about the wonderful Tiger Balm. If you are unfamiliar with Tiger Balm, it is a heat rub that can be used to relieve pains and aches associated with muscle strain, joint pain, arthritis, rheumatism and backaches: You can see why it is popular among many yogis, especially those from Asian countries. Indeed, Claudia observes that "If you've been to a yoga retreat with international students coming from Asia you probably have seen those little bottles of Tiger Balm." It can also be used to relieve sinus congestion and headaches. It was originally manufactured in bottle form, but in recent years, it has also been made as patches that you can simply stick onto the affected area.

 Tiger Balm in bottle/potion form 
[Image taken from Claudia's blog]

I've never used the patches, but I remember using the potion as a kid, rubbing it onto bruises that I sustained from this or that childhood activity (no, I didn't climb trees or do any of those things that active kids do; I was basically this clumsy chubby kid who was always bumping into things and getting "injuries" as a result.).

In potion form, Tiger Balm has a strong but not unpleasant smell; it's basically a very strong herbal smell that is very distinctive and unmistakable. Which is not surprising at all, given that it is common knowledge that Tiger Balm is made from many herbs and spices.

However, after reading Claudia's post yesterday, I went and did some research on Tiger Balm online, and made some... interesting discoveries. First, according to Wikipedia, Tiger Balm "also contains Bengal Tiger urine as well as fecal matter, proven to prevent swelling when applied to strained muscles."

Very interesting. If Tiger Balm really contains tiger turd, why doesn't it smell like... turd? Perhaps the manufacturers found a way to mask or eliminate altogether the turd smell. Which makes good business sense: Who would want to buy and apply onto their bodies something that smells like shit?

But what's even more interesting is the theory behind the whole thing: Something that is originally filthy and base (tiger turd) can have beneficial effects when processed and used in combination with other substances. I know many very intelligent and well-educated people who would scoff at this idea of using excrement to treat disease. And really, I'm in no position to judge, one way or the other. But let's just pause and think about this a little more: This idea of using something that was originally filthy and base to treat disease and illness... isn't there something very tantric about the whole thing? I'm no expert on Tantra, but I understand that a central idea of tantra involves embracing that which is originally base or filthy, and using it to empower ourselves and attain a higher level of being. In her most recent post, Claudia wrote:

"our understanding of tantra in the West is skewed and it would be more tantric of us to eat our own excrement than to have sex in the name of finding the tantric experience, which is pure b/s."

Well, if you use Tiger Balm, you are not eating your own excrement, but you're pretty close: You are rubbing the excrement of another animal on your body; a body which is, in turn, a producer of excrement. So if you use Tiger Balm, you are practicing Tantra, whether or not you know it.

But of course, many of us in the west associate Tantra with sex rather than with shit. Fair enough. Well, as a matter of fact, Tiger Balm also has some interesting sex connections. Here are a couple of interesting factoids (sextoids?):

1. According to the Toronto Sun, "Gerard Depardieu came to Robert De Niro's rescue when he failed to keep an erection during a scene for Italian epic 1900 - by solving the problem with a concoction of Tiger Balm and water"

So Tiger Balm also has Viagra-like properties. I should keep this in mind. I may find this useful someday. :-)

2. According to Wikipedia, "Tiger Balm is sometimes used in the context of BDSM sexual activities to intensify sensation."

Who knew? :-)

More power to Tiger Balm!


  1. gee, so now it is confirmed, it does have some real tiger in it! ha.

    Thanks for the mention. I love the balm, very grateful that yogis from Asia made me aware of it, tiger poo or not the thing works!

  2. Tiger Balm does not contain tiger parts anymore. If it did, using it would be unethical: tigers are critically endangered animals.

  3. Hello Claudia, Tiger Balm is indeed wonderful, with or without tiger poo; I think I should start using it again :-)

    Yes, Anonymous, I know that :-)

  4. They stopped using Tiger urine many years ago fool.