What is Liniment and How Can it Benefit You?

Liniments are topically applied herb-infused liquids that are used to improve health in some way, most often to relieve joint pain or muscle tension. Herbal liniments were first developed thousands of years ago, but their powerful pain-relieving effects are needed now more than ever in our modern day where people are searching for safe, non-addictive pain relief options.

Here, we’ll dive deeper into what liniments are and how using an herbal liniment can  help you reach your health and fitness goals. 


How is Liniment Made?

Liniments are made by soaking a special formulation of herbs in either oil or alcohol for long periods (from weeks to years) to create a concentrated healing elixir made for topical application. While both oil-based and alcohol-based liniments can be massaged into large muscle groups and other areas of pain or injury, alcohol-based versions absorb more quickly and penetrate more deeply into the skin often making them more powerful liniments.  

Just like herbal formulas made for internal use, the actions of a topical herbal liniment will depend entirely on the herbal formula used. For instance, a liniment created to clear inflammation and reduce swelling will be made with herbs that are cooling and soothing. A liniment aimed at relaxing muscle stiffness and cold-type pain will be infused with warming, circulating herbs.


Are Liniments the Same as Dit Da Jow?

Dit Da Jow is a liniment, but not all liniments are Dit Da Jows. Dit Da Jow is a specific formula known as “iron hit wine” or “hit fall wine” that originated in ancient China specifically for use in sports or trauma injuries, martial arts or as a first-aid remedy. Now, there are many different versions and formulations of Dit Da Jow that can be used for inflammation, body conditioning, bruising, sprains, strains, tendonitis, arthritis, neuropathic pain and general injury care.

Why Use a Liniment?

Topical liniments are an easy-to-use, safe and effective way to manage pain conditions. While there are many different reasons why you may choose to use a liniment, these are some of the most common ways people benefit from herbal liniments like Dit Da Jow: 

  1. Recover from injuries faster.

    Liniments are a non-invasive, natural way to improve the recovery of muscle, tendon and bone injuries. After the initial healing of an injury has begun, a liniment can be applied several times per day to encourage faster and more complete healing. A liniment like Bruise Juice increases blood circulation to quickly reduce bumps and bruises while Herbal Ice works quickly to reduce excessive inflammation from acute injury without the harmful effects of an ice pack.


  2. Enhance athletic performance.

    Liniments are a great way to help the body recover faster from injuries so you can get back into your training routine or sport. But, they can also help improve your performance and prevent injuries in the future. How? Liniments are made with herbal formulas that not only help to reduce damage but also holistically promote a healthy, strong and flexible body that is more resistant to injury.

    For martial artists, liniments are an essential part of the training process and have been used in conjunction with the practice for centuries. While many key formulas are used to quickly repair trauma from hits and knocks, they can also be used for conditioning purposes, as with the White Dragon Iron Palm Dit Da Jow. This liniment is used to keep the joints and fascia in excellent condition while undergoing intensive iron palm training. 

    But liniments are not just reserved for martial artists. Many different athletes—from footballers to yogis—can enjoy the performance-enhancing benefits of liniments. To improve flexibility, we can use a liniment like the aptly named Flexibility Liniment to maintain healthy blood flow, warm the joints and reduce any areas of tightness that may impede your flexibility. Using a liniment like this both before and after a training session can help you reach your athletic goals faster and prevent injury. 

  3. Manage chronic pain conditions.

    Chronic pain conditions and issues like arthritis are another key use for liniments. Applying a restorative liniment (such as Ancestors Advanced) to painful joints is a simple way to offer consistent care for old injuries, areas of overuse, or arthritic joints.

    Stubborn pain from tendonitis or muscle injuries can be easily relieved with regular use of a formula like Ho Family Dit Da Jow, which contains herbs that help kill pain while encouraging blood flow into the injury for continued healing.

    Because these formulas  are made with herbs that both relieve pain and heal the underlying tissues, these herbal liniments offer a well-rounded approach to pain management and can usually be combined with other treatments and care plans.*(Always seek the advice of a licensed medical professional when deciding to combine the use of liniments with other medical treatments.)

Liniments vs. Other Topical Pain Relievers

Liniments are considered one of the most effective topical herbal pain relievers but, unfortunately, are still less well-known than some other options. Let’s see how liniments stack up to the alternatives:

  • Liniments vs. Tiger Balm

  • Tiger Balm is a popular pain-relief cream with origins in Chinese medicine, just like Dit Da Jow. But Tiger Balm does not provide the comprehensive level of care that many herbal liniments do. For example, Tiger Balm does help to temporarily reduce pain and tension but does not promote the healing of joints, muscles, bone or tendons. Tiger Balm is also milder in action and may carry more side effects compared to safer, more powerful liniments like Dit Da Jow.

  • Liniments vs. Capsaicin creams

    Capsaicin creams provide simple warming pain relief to sore muscles and joints but have also been used for issues like migraines and neuropathy. Capsaicin works by introducing a strong warmth and tingling effect to the skin, which blocks pain signals going to the brain. The result is temporary pain relief and enhanced circulation. 

    While capsaicin creams can be helpful to quiet pain, and cayenne pepper is even used in certain formulas like our Ho Family Dit Da Jow, liniments tend to offer a more well-rounded approach to healing. With a liniment, a variety of herbs are used to provide relief, but also to balance the formula, provide concentrated herbal nutrition and stimulate long-term healing.

  • Liniments vs. Biofreeze and Menthol

  • On the other spectrum of topical pain relievers are the cooling balms and sprays like Biofreeze. These often include ingredients like menthol and camphor for a tingling, cooling effect. While this feels “icy” and blocks pain signals, it can overwhelm the skin’s nerve endings and may even slow healing and repair. Liniments like Herbal Ice, however, provide strong anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits without overwhelming the nerves. 

Boost Your Pain Relief Toolkit with Liniments 

Liniments are a simple, yet powerful way to boost your at-home healing toolkit. Whether you are an experienced martial artist looking to get a leg up on your injuries, or simply an active individual looking to kick pain and soreness to the curb, a high-quality herbal liniment can provide healing relief and prevention. 


Shop our range of Plum Dragon Herbs liniments or make your own with our Dit Da Jow herbal packs. 



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