Liniment Oil: Old Folktale or Genius Anti-Inflammatory in Disguise?

July 17, 2017 in STSMPT

A common active ingredient in some liniments Vitex nengudo (more commonly known as the Chinese chaste tree) has long been hailed as a wonder in herbal medicine. It’s been touted as being able to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to asthma. This is because of its supposed anti-inflammatory properties. However, is there any truth to these claims?

The answer to this appears to be “yes.” Evidence from a recent study shows that Vitex nengudo does indeed work as an anti-inflammatory agent. To understand why this is, one must first understand what inflammation is. Inflammation is the body’s vascular tissues responding to harmful stimulants. These can come in the form of irritants, pathogens, or damaged cells. The study, which was headed by Richelle G. Abuan of Saint Louis University, went into detail about not only how effective vitex nengudo is but also came up with an optimal chemical make up for liniment based off this herb.

After making up solutions that held 25, 50, 75, and 100% vitex extract and testing them with two different skin irritation tests the results were that solutions made up of 25% extract were the most effective in alleviating inflammation and held up just as well as more modern remedies such as methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil). Methyl salicylate was used as the control group in the experiment and the treatment results from the Vitex nengudo groups were on par with it. It was also determined that it did not make a significant difference if the base of the solution was oil or alcohol. This could be a game changer for many people as this means they could use this as a cheaper option compared to more modern treatments. However, one should consult a physician first before changing a prescribed medication regimen.

Keep in mind, if joint pain is slowing you down, physical therapy has all-natural solutions that can improve pain in the short term and protect joint function in the long term.


Abuan RG, Cruz JP, Colet PC. Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory activity of the liniment from the leaf extract of Vitexnegundo family Verbenanceae. European Scientific Journal, ESJ. 2014 Nov 26;10(33).

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