A Look at the Health Benefits of Ointment Balms

In recent times, pain relief balms and muscle rubs have enjoyed an explosion in popularity. For example, Tiger Balm, an extremely popular brand. However, let’s say that as a consumer, you wanted to purchase a pain relief balm. A quick Google search of that reveals a lot of balm products. As a consumer, how would you find the best balm product that suits your needs?

In order to help consumers to choose a suitable type of pain relief balms, we, at ChemoPower, decided to come up with an Index system to rate the balms in the market. For this preliminary study, 10 balm products have been selected randomly from the market. We employed static headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to find out the chemical compositions of every balms. Data analyses were conducted by using ChemoPower’s software, SmartDalton™ and MoleculeDB™.

Across the 10 balms studied, 204 compounds have been identified with detection limit of 0.0071% of total chromatogram area. Among the compounds identified, there are a total of 49 compounds which showed multiple overlapping health beneficial properties.

Through the analyses, we found that the compounds with the highest abundance were mostly related to pain relief, relief of flu symptoms and relief from insect bites, as illustrated in the infographic below.



A total of 19 unique health beneficial properties were identified. The 10 most important health beneficial properties were grouped in the next picture.



These were also the main properties that the brands claimed their balms could help with. Hence, these properties will be relied on to compare the balms in our Index.


The following graph was plotted using the areas of the compounds that contributed to the top 10 most important health properties.



In conclusion, the top 3 balms in our Index are Rainbow Massage Balm, Ling Nam Ultra Balm and Green Dragon Balm.




Only volatile compounds in each sample were analyzed, thus the data obtained may not be a true reflection of all compounds present. 


Article written by:

Lim Zhong Yi

Intern (Singapore Polytechnic)

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