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How Does Katinko Help With Aches, Pains and Itches?

    How Does Katinko Help With Aches, Pains and Itches?

    For every ache, insect bite or itch, we Filipinos have an array of oils and balms that we swear by. Most people have a tube or tiny bottle of this wonder liniment handy just in case they feel unwell. Even Filipino-American comedian Jo Koy shared anecdotes of his mom using Vicks VapoRub to “cure” him whenever he got sick. Efficascent Oil, White Flower and Vicks are just some of these treatments that we whip out at the first hint of a headache or cold. In this article, we will be focusing on Katinko, one of the most popular camphor-menthol-salicylate balms Filipinos use.

    What Is Katinko and What Are Its Uses?

    A news report revealed that many people use this liniment to soothe aches and itches as well and ease nausea. On the packaging label, it’s indicated for neck and shoulder stiffness, rheumatism, muscle strain, sprains, bruises, and itching due to insect bites and other minor skin irritation. However, you should not use it on wounds, damaged skin, on or near the eyes.

    Katinko contains menthol (7.6%), camphor (11%), and methyl salicylate (13%). Each one is a topical analgesic; that is, substances you apply to the skin which have painkilling properties. Let’s explore each one.



    One component of Katinko is menthol, which has analgesic effects. One study of menthol effects on migraines showed that it reduced the intensity of headaches two hours after applying topical menthol 6% gel. When administered inside the body, it blocks the nervous system’s calcium-sodium channels and desensitizes pain receptors. The cooling sensation that we know menthol gives is a result of transient receptor potential melastatin-8 channels being activated. This also contributes to the analgesic effect.

    Methyl Salicylate

    Another element in the composition of Katinko is methyl salicylate. The contents of fragrances, food, beverages and liniments often include this substance. In liniments, they serve as rubefacients, or drugs that cause reddening of the skin due to increased blood flow. Rubefacients are thought to ease pain in different musculoskeletal conditions; however, there’s not enough evidence to support this claim.

    Methyl salicylate acts as a painkiller in deep heating liniments. This is useful for people with arthritis, simple back aches, bruises, cramps, muscle strains or sprains. Ointments containing this substance also counteract irritants.


    Another common ingredient in creams, ointments (such as Katinko) and lotion, camphor comes from the camphor tree wood. It relieves chest congestion and various inflammatory conditions. It acts as an analgesic, antiseptic, antipruritic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, rubefacient, decongestant, cough suppressant and expectorant, among other functions. Camphor can be administered through injection, inhalation or ingestion.

    When you have a cold, camphor relieves chest congestion. It also alleviates inflammation related to rheumatism, sprains, bronchitis, asthma and muscle pain. Camphor also gives a cooling sensation by stimulating nerve endings that are sensitive to cold temperatures.

    As Katinko advertises, camphor helps with itching by desensitizing sensory nerves relating to pain, itching and irritation.

    Take Caution

    Menthol, camphor and methyl salicylate compositions do have analgesic effects, but keep in mind that these should just be used in moderation. Excessive amounts of these substances can be toxic to your system.

    Key Takeaway

    Katinko and other menthol-camphor-salicylate ointments and liniments have painkilling effects. They can relieve back pain, headaches and itching due to insect bites or other skin irritants. The skin easily absorbs these substances which is why they are effective in soothing all sorts of aches. It’s no wonder that Filipinos have these over-the-counter oils and balms on their person. So the next time you feel a headache or a cold coming on, you have the option to think twice before taking oral painkillers. Katinko might just work for you.

    Learn more about Drugs and Supplements here.


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    Haplas supremacy: All the best balms and liniments to take away the pain, https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/health-and-wellness/recommendations-balms-liniments-take-away-pain/. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

    Methyl salicylate, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Methyl-salicylate#section=Pharmacology-and-Biochemistry. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

    Menthol And Methyl Salicylate (Topical Application Route), https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/menthol-and-methyl-salicylate-topical-application-route/description/drg-20526859?p=1. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

    KATINKO PAIN AND ITCH RELIEVING- camphor (synthetic), menthol, methyl salicylate ointment, https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=fe907fa4-4a01-4974-b71f-9cd980b4eaa2&type=display. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

    Efficacy and Tolerability of STOPAIN for a Migraine Attack, https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffneur.2015.00011. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

    Salicylate‐containing rubefacients for acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain in adults, https://dx.doi.org/10.1002%2F14651858.CD007403.pub3. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

    Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), a traditional remedy with the history of treating several diseases, https://doi.org/10.5348/ijcri-2013-02-267-RA-1. Accessed 21 Mar 2022

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    Written by China Logarta Updated Aug 05
    Expertly reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD
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