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  • 4 min read


    Purple cloud ointment is a famous traditional Chinese herbal formula for common skin conditions. It has been used for centuries in Asia for it's power in acute and chronic wound healing as well as for other mild skin conditions. Known as shiunko in Japanese kampo medicine, we will use the two names interchangeably.

    Highly recognized by it's color, purple cloud ointment is one of those products that is safe for just about everyone. The recipe has a few variations, but it is pretty much the same now as it was long ago. It is great if you love the traditional shiunko, but if you are looking for something better, we have 5 reasons why Battle Balm Original Strength is a superior alternative to your purple cloud ointment. Follow along and we will tell you why.


     Purple cloud ointment, shiunko, or gromwell cream for common skin conditions.

    What is Purple Cloud Ointment or Shiunko?

    Purple cloud ointment is a popular topical burn cream used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as traditional Japanese medicine. Purple cloud ointment goes by a few names: zi cao gao (紫草膏), zi yun gao (紫雲膏), shiunkolithosperm ointment, gromwell ointment, gromwell root balm. Made from only 4 or 5 ingredients, shiunko cream is applied externally for acute and chronic wound healing, minor scrapes, abrasions, eczema and psoriasis. In the acupuncture clinic, shiunko is used as a medium and burn barrier for direct moxibustion treatment and moxa therapy.


     Battle Balm is superior to purple cloud ointment, shiunko, and gromwell cream in every way.

    5 Reasons Why Battle Balm is Better Than Shiunko Purple Cloud Ointment

    The product that launched the Battle Balm brand is the Original Strength version as seen in the hero image at the top of the page. This 20 ingredient formula is not only a 100% all natural and organic topical pain reliever. It can easily replace your shiunko cream and Battle Balm does not need to be purple to be powerful.

    Here are five great reasons why Battle Balm can replace purple cloud ointment.

    1. Battle Balm uses organic beeswax

      Beeswax is a wonderful base for thickening balms, creams and ointments. It is also a great natural preservative. Both Battle Balm and shiunko use beeswax as a formulation base, but if one is looking for USDA-certified organic beeswax, Battle Balm is the better choice.

    2. Battle Balm uses jojoba, the deepest penetrating carrier oil

      A carrier oil "carries" substances across the permeable skin barrier. Since skin is a living organ that exchanges nutrients and moisture with the environment, a carrier oil needs to penetrate deeply to be effective.

      Most shiunko formulas use sesame oil as a carrier. This oil is what also gives shiunko its characteristic scent. Battle Balm, on the other hand, uses USDA-certified organic jojoba oil as a carrier.

      Jojoba oil is the closest thing in molecular structure to the body's natural oil, sebum. Even though sesame oil will penetrate the skin, jojoba oil is much more easily absorbed because the human body recognizes it as biosimilar to natural skin oils. Greater skin penetration means greater effectiveness. Battle Balm penetrates deeper.

    3. Battle Balm provides local pain relief

      Acupuncturists use shiunko as a natural adhesive, a burn preventative, and a skin protectant when applying direct moxa or performing direct moxibustion to acupuncture points.

      Depending on the type of moxibustion and the practitioner, an acupuncture treatment may cause some pain and/or scarring on the skin. Battle Balm is also a pain reliever! It can reduce the pain after the moxa treatments, whereas, pain relief is not a function of shiunko ointment. Battle Balm knocks out pain when it hurts!

    4. Battle Balm will not stain clothing

      Zi cao (also known as arnebia or lithosperm) is what gives the purple cloud ointment the deep red to purple color. Unfortunately, that natural purple dye can stain some clothing upon use. In fact, zi cao was purposely used to dye clothing and papers in ancient Japan!

      Staining is definitely something to think about every time one uses shiunko. Battle Balm, which has a natural yellow gold color from the organic beeswax and organic jojoba oil, washes out from most clothing easily.

    5. Battle Balm is antimicrobial

      Battle Balm has been tested in an independent laboratory for effectiveness per USP51 specifications against common skin microbes, such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, E. coli, candida albicans, and aspergillus brasiliensis. 


    We Will Even Give You a 6th Reason!

    Battle Balm is versatile. This comes from a focus on a superior ingredient selection. When you use Battle Balm as a replacement for purple cloud ointment, you will also get an antimicrobial topical analgesic!



    Both Battle Balm and purple cloud ointment are useful in treating minor skin disorders. Although Battle Balm does not contain the signature purple zi cao ingredient or have the long history behind it, Battle Balm will treat many, if not more, of the conditions that shiunko is indicated for.

    We even have a list of 20 uses for Battle Balm!

    We encourage you to try our alternative to shiunko ointment, Battle Balm Original Strength, in your home or clinic today! If you are looking for an easy way to apply Battle Balm as an adhesive to direct or rice grain moxa onto the skin, try the Battle Balm Original Strength Stick.



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