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Fierce Tigress Body Balm

“This hot and spicy topical balm is my version of the tried-and-true Chinese ointment called Tiger Balm, which started showing up in health food stores decades ago for joint pain relief, headaches, and then some,” professional Curandera Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz writes. “The basic principle behind the ointment is to help move qi and get the blood flowing to areas of pain so healing can take place. However, although it is recommended as a natural remedy, Tiger Balm does contain petroleum and paraffin. I love its scent and effectiveness, so I created my own version using beeswax, coconut oil, and plenty of essential oils that are beneficial for bringing fire and warmth to my areas of pain to get my blood flowing. This blend is made with a high dilution of warming essential oils, as it is only meant to be applied to an area of pain. So, even though it smells fierce, please do not slather this on like body butter or get it too close to your eyes.”

This recipe and others like it can be found in “This Arizona Curandera Changed the Way We Think About Our Wellness Routine,” from the 2022 Wellness Issue.

Fierce Tigress Balm

Excerpted from Earth Medicines: Ancestral Wisdom, Healing Recipes, and Wellness Rituals from a Curandera by Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz (Roost Books, 2021). Photographs by Nicky Hedayatzadeh.
 ¼ cup solid coconut oil
 2 tbsp beeswax pellets
 1 tbsp menthol crystals
 25 drops eucalyptus essential oil
 25 drops peppermint essential oil
 10 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
 10 drops clove essential oil
 10 drops ginger essential oil
 10 drops chili seed essential oil

Begin by gently melting the coconut oil, the beeswax pellets, and the menthol crystals in a double boiler.


While the mixture is melting, measure out your essential oils in a small glass, such as a shot glass.


Once the beeswax mixture has melted, turn off the heat and allow it to sit a few minutes to cool slightly.


Pour your essential oils into your beeswax mixture and stir it with a wooden chopstick. Immediately pour it into your glass jar. Seal and label.


To use, apply the balm to areas of pain, keeping it away from your eyes. If your mixture thickened too quickly, warm it up briefly to liquify.