The topical herbal pain reliever that keeps selling out

Evil Bone Water in 3.4 oz amber bottle.

Between treatments, I like to equip my patients with things they can do at home to speed their healing process: therapeutic exercises, stretches, self-massage techniques, and a topical pain-reliever they can apply to the part that hurts.

I’ve sold a lot of these topical herbal products over the years, but the far-and-away patient favorite — one I can barely keep in stock — is Evil Bone Water.

What’s it for?

Evil Bone Water helps painful muscles, tendons, and joints: sprains, muscle strains, bruises, recent injuries, soreness after activities, arthritis, muscle cramps, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, plantar fasciitis, low back pain, – pretty much any musculoskeletal condition where the skin isn’t broken.

It can also take the itch out of bug bites and poison oak.

What’s with the sinister name?

Evil Bone Water is based on a 500-year old Chinese herbal recipe for Zheng Gu Shui, which translates as “righteous bone water,” or “bone-setting liquid” which was developed to heal fractures and other injuries accrued during martial arts practice. The formula would “make right” what was injured, or “rectify evil” affecting the bones. The name Evil Bone Water is an homage to this traditional, time-tested formula, and a bit of an inside joke of for Chinese herbal medicine practitioners.

Is it like Tiger Balm? Or that stuff in the red bottle? 

Kind of, in that it provides a similar immediately warming-yet-cooling feeling, but is made from much higher quality herbs — and without the nasty petroleum.

I used to carry the most common brand of Zheng Gu Shui, the liquid in the red box on every Chinese Medicine practitioner’s shelf. It helped some, but was nothing I would swear by, and would only half-heartedly recommend to patients. That mass-market formulation leaves out all but seven of the original formula’s 26 ingredients in order to make a cheaper product. Evil Bone Water is made from the original formula and doesn’t scrimp on the good stuff — and the difference is immediately apparent.

Why do people love it so much?

Because it works really well. Like, so well that patients give it away to friends who come over to visit (“You’ve got to try this stuff!”) and then have to come back the next day and replace their supply.

It’s small-batch, craft-brewed medicine. Its herbal ingredients are potent, and sustainably and ethically sourced. Evil Bone Water contains no animal products and is non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, pesticide-free, and contaminant free.

Evil Bone Water in 3.4 oz amber bottle.

How do I use it?
Apply Evil Bone Water topically over the area that hurts.  Rub it in with a cotton ball, spray it on, or use it as a compress. Because it’s alcohol-based, it evaporates quickly, so rubbing in really well and applying several layers or keeping it under gauze for a half hour greatly increases absorption.

What does it do?  

The all-natural camphor and menthol provide an immediate warming-cooling tingly sensation that provides immediate pain relief. Other herbs in the formula are “Blood movers” according to traditional Chinese Medicine used to invigorate the flow of blood to speed healing and decrease inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Where can I get it?

If you live in the Willamette Valley, you can get some at my clinic, Life in Balance Acupuncture, 534 NW 4th Street — just call first to make sure we’re open. And if you live far away, you can order yours from our friends at Valley Health Clinic, and be sure to use discount code WELCH to get 15% off your order (and they’ll send me a little cash as well).


*These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA; the original formula has, however been used by millions for half a millenneum, so maybe that speaks for itself?