Health and Fitness

From White Flower to Lola Remedios: 14 Over-The-Counter Remedies For Aches and Pains

Which ones do you have in your medicine cabinet?
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How many times has your mom or a concerned tita handed you some kind of ointment or herb supplement every time you complain about a stomach ache, a lingering headache, or muscle pain? While some people would prefer an immediate consultation with a licensed physician, many Filipino homes still carry so-called homestyle remedies—oils, creams, liniments and an assortment of other products that all purport to treat discomforts mild to serious. 

Whether these things actually heal is often secondary to the fact that people believe they really do, and so we can think of them as actual medicine at best, and maybe placebos at worst. In any case, many of them have been around for years, even decades, and so one has to wonder—if they don’t work, why are they still around?

See which ones you’ve encountered in this list of homestyle remedies:

1| White Flower

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White Flower has been helping alleviate everything from headaches, dizziness, muscle pain and motion sickness since 1927. (That’s 93 years). Founder Gan Geok Eng started selling his wonder oil in Penang Malaysia, naming it after his favorite flower (the white narcissus or the daffodil). He moved in 1951 to Hong Kong , where its factory and headquarters are still located to this day. 

An extensive story about White Flower on the South China Morning Post gives a fascinating glimpse into the history of this humble product, with the founder’s descendants still running the company today. And if you’re windering what exactly is White Flower, it’s menthol, eucalyptus and wintergreen, plus camphor, lavender and peppermint. Now you know.

2| Katinko

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Katinko is another cure-all liniment for those suffering from things like backache, arthritis, rheumatism, muscle pain, sprains, bruises and even insect bites and skin irrittation. The main ingredients are camphor (11 percent), menthol (7.6 percent), and Methyl Salicylate (13 percent ). A product from Hong Kong, Katinko is manufactured locally by Greenstone Pharmaceutical H.K. Inc., which is located in Imus, Cavite. 

3| Tiger Balm

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Tiger Balm is named after Aw Boon Haw, which literally translates to “gentle tiger.” He and his brother Aw Boon Par (“gentle leopard”), were the sons of a Chinese immigrant who made his way to Rangoon, Burma in the late 1860s. After the death of their father, the brothers produced the balm and marketed it as something of a miracle cure for a variety of aches and pains.

Made of natural camphor, mint oil, cajuput oil, menthol and clove oil, the original Tiger Balm now comes in two varieties: red for muscle aches, and white for colds and flu. It’s now available in over 100 countries, including, of course, the Philippines.

4| Omega Pain Killer

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Omega Pain Killer is a Filipino-made product that claims to provide “fast and lasting relief from various body pains.” The liniment’s main ingredients are methyl salicylate, menthol, camphor, ethyl alcohol and virgin coconut oil. Like many other similar products, Omega Pain Killer works by just rubbing it onto the affected area of the body. The prodict description says it “is helpful in soothing and easing tension, fatigue, and aching muscles. It also has an anti-itching effect that eases itching, thus preventing infection from insect bites and scratches.” 

Omega Pain Killer is manufactured by International Pharmaceuticals Inc., whose headquarters is in Kasambagan, Cebu City.

5| Poy Sian

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Poy-Sian is an herbal inhaler from Thailand used to treat vertigo, nausea, dizziness and nasal congestion. Active ingredients include menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil and borneol, or what was once called Borneo camphor, as well as peppermint oil and lavender oil. 

Founded in 1936, the company claims that the basis of the essential oils in Poy Sian dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks and before the Shang dynasty in China.

If you’ve never tried one, this website claims that camphor and borneol salts, when inhaled “cause a cold, refreshing sensation on the nasal cavity. This helps clear your throat and sinuses and keep you feeling refreshed and alert. It also helps reduce symptoms like dizziness or fainting.”

6| Axe Brand Universal Oil

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From Singapore, Axe Brand Universal Oil is a handy remedy “pure in color, pleasant in odour. It is mild yet suitable for relief of giddiness, headache, blocked nose and cold, stomach-ache, insect bites, rheumatic pain and muscular pain.”

The product’s main ingredients are menthol (16 percent), methyl salicylate (15 percent), camphor (five percent), eucalyptus oil, lavender oil and mineral oil. It’s been around for 80 years and is used by applying a few drops to the affected area. If you have a stuffy nose though, the website suggests you apply two to three drops to a handkerchief or tissue paper and inhaling it deeply. Also, “for relief of flatulence and stomach discomfort: Apply the oil to the navel region and cover with a hot towel.”

7| Efficascent Oil

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From the same local company that makes Omega Pain Killer, Efficascent Oil’s three main ingredients are methyl salicylate, menthol, and camphor. Used to relieve “tiredness” and “any body discomforts,” the product promoises “instant relaxation.”

Efficascent Oil can be applied topically on the temples and on the wrists, or by inhaling it straight from the bottle.

8| Golden Cup

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A product of Thailand, Golden Cup Comes in Balm and Oil form that both helps alleviate headaches, muscular pain, insect bites and nasal congestion. Its active ingredients are menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate, eucalyptus oil, cajuput oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, and cinnamon oil.

The company that manufactures the product, Golden Cup Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., was established in 1950. Today, it also offers Kiddy Balm, which was designed for sensitive skin. Golden Cup also combats rheumatism, stress, dizziness, and nausea. 

9| Pau Liniment

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Pau Liniment is a Filipino-made product made with camphor and menthol that acts as a relaxant and form of aromatherapy. It’s used to combat a variety of ailments, including arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle ache, stomachache, varicose veins, and body pains.

Made by Aldrtz Corporation, which is based out of Bacolod City, Pau Liniment is made with methyl salicylate, menthol, camphor, and special natural ingredient called psicapmo extract, which it says is “a fusion of eight special herbs harvested from South American and Philippine forests.”

10| Kwan Loong Oil

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Kwan Loong Pain Relieving Oil is used for fast and effective relief of dizziness, headaches, motion sickness, blocked nose, stomachaches, sprains, and rheumatic pains. It also speeds up the healing of insect bites. 

Founded over 70 years ago in Ipoh, Malaysia, Kwan Loong Oil is now available in multiple countries around the world, including Hong Kong‚ USA‚ China‚ Canada‚ and Australia. Its active ingredients are methyl salicylate (35 percent), menthol (16 percent), eucalyptus oil, spike lavender oil, and light mineral oil.

11| Aceite de Manzanilla

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Another product from IPI, Aceite de Manzanilla is used especially to help expel abdominal discomfort on babies due to gas or colic, otherwise known as kabag. It’s especially formulated for babies and toddlers, is mild on children’s skin and has a mild scent.

Aceite de Manzanilla literally translates to chamomile oil. The product’s two main active ingredients are manzanilla oil and mineral oil. It’s also used to treat stomach pain and nausea. 

12| Bengay

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Developed in France and later brought to the US, Bengay is a topical cream that is used to relieve muscle and joint pains. In its website, Bengay says the pain relievers in the product “work to temporarily block the perception of pain, providing relief.”

Originally produced by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson, Bengay contains menthol and methyl salicylate, which are counterirritants that work “by causing the skin to feel cool and then warm. These feelings on the skin distract you from feeling the aches/pains deeper in your muscles, joints, and tendons.” 

13| Vicks

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Perhaps one of the most popular over-the-counter home remedies in the world, Vicks Vaporub is a mentholated ointment that helps relieve coughing due to minor throat irritation. It can also be used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains on muscles and joints. 

Touted as the number one-selling branded children’s cough and cold product, the active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. According to its official website, the inactive ingredients in Vicks VapoRub include cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil.

First sold in the early 1900s, Vicks is now owned by Procter & Gamble and is sold in more than 100 countries. One million gallons of the product is sold each year.

14| Lola Remedios

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We had to include Lola Remedios even though it’s the only one in this list that you ingest instead of applying it on your skin. Made with mint, honey, ginger, clove, fennel, peppermint oil, Indian screw, palm sugar, sucrose and water, the drink has gained popularity in recent years for being a supposed cure-all for everything from coughs and fever to colds. 

A product originally from Indonesia, Lola Remedios is also supposed to “increase energy levels, reduce fatigue, relieve body pains and aches in the mouth, ease allergies, improve digestion, and relieve stomach discomforts.” No wonder so many people think of it as some kind of miracle cure.

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