Haplas supremacy: All the best balms and liniments to take away the pain

Amanda T. Lago

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Haplas supremacy: All the best balms and liniments to take away the pain

HAPLAS. Which balm or liniment reigns supreme?

From Katinko to Golden Mint Molecule, these pamahids put the 'essential' in essential oils

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MANILA, Philippines – Whether it’s a headache, tummy ache, insect bite, nausea, stress, or boredom, there’s very little the right haplas (liniment) can’t fix. It’s the first line of defense against many ailments, so it’s no surprise that most people always have a tiny pot of the good stuff on their person, or a collection of various pamahid (rubs) on their bedside tables. 

But which one is the best? We asked Rappler readers what they thought, and ultimately, it all boils down to personal preference – though some brands are more popular than others. 

The classics

In general, people seem to go for the classics: White Flower, Katinko, Efficascent Oil, Tiger Balm, and Vicks

Some people swear by the versatility of Katinko, whose balmy texture and slightly tamer menthol scent makes it work for both itches and aches, and as aromatherapy for nausea. 

White Flower has a runny liquid formulation making it ideal for really bad headaches and muscle pains. It also has a powerful menthol scent that could decongest EDSA traffic.

Vicks Vaporub is relatively mild on the menthol but has more staying power, making it a great all-around rub. Some families also swear by a tablespoon of Vicks dissolved in warm water for cold relief. It also comes in a lot of different formulations – including a gentle one, for babies and kids.

Efficascent Oil with its iconic green color and unforgettable scent is the ultimate full-body massage oil – and it apparently comes in an “extra strong” version for especially sore bodies.

Tiger Balm, with its iconic octagon pot and gold cap, is another crowd favorite, along with Omega Pain Killer, whose aroma can even put one commenter to sleep.

Underrated haplas

Some people mentioned Golden Mint Molecule, which comes in spray and roll-on formulations and supposedly blends citrus, mint, and Philippine frankincense. It’s a niche local brand, so not a lot of people know about it yet, but it’s quite powerful against headaches (I tried it once and a single sniff took away a pretty bad headache almost instantly).

All is Well balm by Filipino brand Zenutrients also got a mention. As one of the brand’s bestsellers, it comes in its own category on their website. As a pamahid, it’s much gentler than other liniments so it isn’t ideal for sore muscles. But its (slightly addicting) minty scent makes it a great aromatherapy for stress relief.

Giga Naturals‘ massage rub cream – a blend of virgin coconut oil, peppermint, and ginger – was also mentioned, and with its availability now at Mercury Drugstore and on Shopee and Lazada, I wouldn’t be surprised if this climbs to the top of the haplas popularity rankings soon.

One commenter recommended three different haplas based on your scent preferences: Brewed Elixir’s Health and Mana Potion for a strong peppermint scent, Herb Secrets essential oil for a blend of citrus and mint, and Axe Universal Oil for something “Katinko-like without the amoy matanda (old people smell) factor.”

Betet Parrot Brand balm is another haplas that was recommended, though it bears mentioning that there was an FDA advisory warning against its red balm formulation in 2019 (the green version is currently available in some drugstores).

Ultimately, why should we choose one when we can have all? As commenter Andhrea Aquino said, “All of the above just to ease the pain.”

Did we miss out on your go-to haplas? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.