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Sloan's Liniment (at right) was once a popular over-the-counter drug store item.

Liniment (or embrocation), from the Latin linere, to anoint, is a medicated topical preparation for application to the skin. Sometimes called balms, liniments are of a similar or lesser viscosity than lotions and are rubbed in to create friction, unlike lotions, ointments or creams.[1][2]

Liniments are typically sold to relieve pain and stiffness, such as from sore muscles or arthritis. These are typically formulated from alcohol, acetone, or similar quickly evaporating solvents and contain counterirritant aromatic chemical compounds such as methyl salicilate, benzoin resin, or capsaicin.

Liniments have been around since antiquity. Opodeldoc is a formulation invented by the Renaissance physician Paracelsus.

Use on horses[edit]

Liniments are commonly used on horses following exercise, applied either by rubbing on full-strength, especially on the legs; or applied in a diluted form, usually added to a bucket of water and sponged on the body. They are also useful in hot weather to help cool down a horse after working, the alcohol cooling through rapid evaporation, and counterirritant oils dilating capillaries in the skin, increasing the amount of blood releasing heat from the body.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Liniment". The Free Dictionary. 
  2. ^ "Liniment". UK. Oxford Dictionaries.