Manual Pick: Zam-Buk

Julius Kensan
24th April 2019
In the latest Manual Pick, we espouse the gentle healing of the “cure all” ointment, Zam-Buk. Manual Pick is a series where we highlight items we love and desire that range from remarkably banal to mucho fancy.

It’s almost impossible to associate Zam-Buk with good memories. Whenever this medicated ointment made an appearance, it’s always because you’re in some kind of pain or discomfort. And if you were extremely energetic and prone to mishaps as a child, Zam-Buk is likely your parents’ instinctive solution. Fell down the stairs? Dab some Zam-Buk. Stung by a bee? Zam-Buk. Getting caned from bad grades?  Dab some extra Zam-Buk.

If you’re a Label Reader and find yourself reading the packaging of Zam-Buk in the bathroom after forgetting to bring your smartphone along, you’d notice that the antiseptic balm is manufactured for Bayer, a German multinational pharmaceutical company that now owns the trademark, in Thailand. And if you were to trace its history further back, you’ll find that it was originally created by Zam-Buk Company of Leeds in England by Charles Edward Fulford at the turn of 20th century.

With its unappealing green colour and thick waxy texture, Zam-Buk looks like it was harvested from Shrek’s nose. But the ointment’s potent healing properties – thanks its composition of eucalyptus oil, camphor and thyme oil – has earned Zam-Buk the unofficial title of “The Asian parents cure for everything”.