Good old Eagle Oil


This entry is about that famous green oil that is a household name in most, if not all, Vietnamese families. I wrote a line of two about it in one of my old blog entries, can’t remember which one now. Today I saw this on “Stuff Asians Like“, and this is a response to their post. πŸ™‚

Right, so what about Eagle Oil?
If you really think about it, it is actually part of what trendy people now call “Aromatherapy” (and bucket loads of money are made from teeny weeny bottles containing different concoctions of plant extracts.) Eagle oil is made primarily from Menthol and Eucalyptus oil. If you look closely at of some of those ridiculously overpriced Aromatherapy bottles, especially the ready-mixed ones like “Headache Cure” or “TravelEase”, you’d find that many are practically diluted versions of our good old Eagle oil. Hah! My Mum’s been using Aromatherapy for yonks. Kudos to her!

[Personal side note: (because I like to ramble, that’s why!)
I remember this one time, some 10 years ago when I was living with my home-stay family who are English Aussies. I was trying to get rid of a headache by dabbing the oil on my temples. My host brother D. saw it & looked at me with a funny raised-eyebrow look. “Do you believe it works?”, he said. “It does work”, I said. “Oh I see. But how?”, he said. “Well it’s called medicated oil. It’s not some kind of magic potion. Duh!” I said. “Yes but what kind of medications is that, that’s supposed to seep through your skin and cure your headache?”, he said. At which point I lost my patience and told him (good-naturedly) to just shut up and leave me alone, or else my head was going to explode and it would be all his fault. Ah, the ever doubtful and unenlightened. *tongue in cheek* I didn’t know about Aromatherapy back then. But even if i had known and tried to explain it to him, I doubt he’d have believed that Aromatherapy does work.

End of note.]

Anyhow, back to business. I figured Eagle Oil’s effectiveness in easing and/or curing some of our ailments, correct me if I’m wrong, but it is because it helps relax your muscles. And in doing that, it does these things, and more:

  • Eases joint & muscular pain, headaches, stomach aches, stiff necks and backs, etc.
  • Eases travel sickness
  • Unblocks your nose during colds and flu. (Forget those exxy nasal spray stuff, a sniff of your Mum’s Eagle oil bottle would do the trick.)
  • A few drops in your hot footspa would sooth & refresh tired feet, and make them smell all lovely afterwards. (I didn’t invent this, but one time when I was about to buy a “Footspa Oil” thing from David Jones (overpriced, of course), the ingredient label caught my eyes and it was something like 80% Menthol and 5% Eucalyptus. So back on the shelf it stayed.)
  • My Dad’s way of getting rid of a cold is to put a few drops in a huge bowl of boiling water, then sit next to it on the floor and cover himself with a blanket, inhaling the vapour. (Basically, a home-made vapouriser.) Trust me, it really works.
  • And last but not at all least, the oil makes you feel better when you believe it works. (well, it’s all in the mind, innit? ;))

Having said all that, one amusing thing I’ve noticed is that some (Asian) people really cannot stand Eagle oil. To which I have an explanation: primarily that is because its smell brings back unpleasant memories, due to its correlation to the above-mentioned ailments. The same way the smell of hospitals or dental surgeries irritates or scares the heck our of you. It’s a known fact that our sense of smell is the most connected to our memories. Therefore the scent of Eagle oil would remind one of that time one’s friend got sick in the car and threw up in one’s lap. Or that time one got food poisoning from stuffing one’s self with delicious morsels at those street stalls, and one’s Mum poured half a bottle of that green liquid thing on one’s tummy, and made one eat nothing but congee with spring onion & herbs for 3 days straight. That is not yet to mention all the times one’s stupidly and absentmindedly rub one’s eyes, or nose, after touching that oil. (I know! Super ouch!)

Oh, and in some (very rare) cases, one subconsciously hates it because it would remind one of one’s Asian roots (loud nagging mothers, talkative fathers with broken English, cheap clothes, muddy markets, plastic covers on sofas, greasy kitchens, etc. etc.) which one has worked so hard not to let show, except for one’s natural look which is the one thing one cannot do much about. (Hear the sarcasm in my tone.)

Okay, I’ve rambled (and wasted time) enough. To sum it all up: I heart Eagle oil! πŸ™‚ (One of these days I’m going to make a huge picture of it and hang it proudly on my wall. Not kidding.)



2 thoughts on “Good old Eagle Oil

  1. You seriously use that stuff? Old Chinese people use Tiger Balm, which is probably similar to Eagle Balm/Eagle Oil, but I don’t think anyone under 70 owns any.

    I told my mom about the Stuff Asian People Like site and she LAUGHED at the thought of the Eagle Balm post. Chopsticks to beat eggs, sure. Rinsing before loading, sure. No shoes indoors, sure…but EAGLE/TIGER BALM? Mom says it’s :S.

  2. hahaa, nope. Tiger balm is actually very different to Eagle oil. The balm has some kind of “Chinese medicine” smell, and yes, is more of a nanna / grandpa product. While Eagle oil is pretty much like a strong peppermint extract. Try to get a sniff of it, you’ll see what i mean. As I said above, aromatherapy is gooood. πŸ™‚

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