Liniment, (or embrocation) from the Latin linere, to anoint, is a medicated topical preparation for application to the skin. Preparations of this type are also called balm. Liniments are of a similar viscosity to lotions (being significantly less viscous than an ointment or cream) but unlike a lotion a liniment is applied with friction, that is a liniment is always rubbed in.
Liniments are typically sold to relieve pain and stiffness, such as from sore muscles or from arthritis. These liniments typically are formulated from alcohol, acetone, or similar quickly evaporating solvents, and contain counterirritant aromatic chemical compounds such as methyl salicilate, benzoin resin or capsaicin. Opodeldoc is a sort of liniment invented by the physician Paracelsus. Absorbine Jr is a trade name for a brand of liniment for human use widely sold in the United States. The stronger version, Absorbine, is for horses.
Traditional Chinese medicine features a wide variety of different liniments, with applications ranging from topical anaesthetics used in bone setting to simple sore muscles and bruises, such as Dit Da Jow or Ligusticum
Uses on Horses
Liniments are a common substance used by trainers and owners of horses. They may be applied diluted or full-strength, usually added into a bucket of water when sponged on the body. Liniments are especially useful in hot weather to help a hot horse cool down: the alcohols help the product to quickly evaporate, and the oils they contain cause the capillaries in the skin to dilate, also increasing the cooling process.
Liniments should always be applied according to the manufacturer's directions, and diluted as necessary. Many horse owners apply liniments to the legs as a brace, and then wrap over it. In this case, they should be sure that the liniment is not too strong, or it may cause blistering of the skin.
Liniments may be used on the legs and body, but should not be applied to more sensitive areas such as the head, dock, or groin of the horse. The body may also be too sensitive to apply liniments if the horse was recently body-clipped.