Icy Hot Pain Reliever: Is it Ice, Is it Hot? Does it Work?
Dec 13, 2002
Review by Jo Levy
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:It relieves pain very quickly and is not greasy.
Cons:The smell is overwhelming.
The Bottom Line: I can't recommend this because of the smell. I am not saying to avoid it because if you aren't seeing another human being you may not mind the smell.
I am reviewing Icy Hot a product I have used which is similar to Ultra Strength BenGay. This was my attempt to relieve some on and off pain in my knee and shoulder while I work out and afterward.
Recommend this product?
About this product and its claims:
Icy Hot comes in three formulas. It comes in a Patch, a Chill Stick and a Balm. I have the Balm in a 3.5-ounce jar. This is a traditional jar with a top that screws off. I paid $5.29. (4 ounces of BenGay costs about $6.99.)
It has two of the same active ingredients as BenGay, however BenGay has 2.5% menthol and Icy Hot has 7.6% menthol. BenGay has 30% Methyl Salicylate (30%) and Icy Hot has 29%, which is too close to make a difference, in my opinion. Icy Hot does not contain Camphor, however, which BenGay does. (See below for information on ingredients.) The inactive ingredients are Paraffin and White Petrolatum
We are told that this non-greasy formula of Icy Hot will help with the pain of arthritis, sore muscles, backache, bursitis, body aches, leg cramps. I wondered about the name. People have various views on what to use on an injury ice or heat. I learned to use ice for the first 72 hours. If the pain is still there or has gotten worse I would see a doctor. I rarely use heat, but many people do after the first couple of days successfully and often told to do so by their doctor. I am not a doctor and am not suggesting how to use ice or heat. The reason this product has both in its name is because it calls itself a dual action topical pain reliever. The Icy part dulls the pain and the Hot part relaxes it away. We are told that it begins to work on contact.
This is for external use only. Please keep out of the reach of children. If it is accidentally swallowed, call a physician or contact a poison control center immediately. Keep Icy Hot away from eyes and mucous membranes, broken or irritated skin. We are told not to bandage the sore area tightly or use a heating pad. If skin redness or irritation develops, or pain lasts for more than 10 days, discontinue its use and call a physician.
What I think of Icy Hot:
This is a thick, white cream that although it rubs in instantly, it can be smelled across a room for what seems like hours. I didnt like BenGay because of the smell. My next product will be odorless, that is for sure. Icy Hot smells worse than BenGay. BenGay has a too strong menthol smell. Icy Hot has a too strong unpleasant menthol smell. (According to my research, Camphor has a pleasant smell. The absence of this ingredient may be why this smells bad.) I will continue, of course with my review, but will not be recommending it. (A few have been recommended by others, Tiger Balm being one.)
I never noticed a specific feeling of cold or hot when I have used Icy Hot. I imagine the ingredients are sending responses to my brain though, because it does relieve pain for quite a bit of time. It certainly relieves annoying shoulder pain for the couple of hours I am at the gym. Just a word of caution- Icy Hot does relieve pain, as do many similar products. Because of that you dont feel the pain, but that doesnt mean the injury has been cured. Just be aware of that if you are doing something that requires heavy use of whatever part of your body you are using the product for and take it easy or you will injure yourself more. Again I am not a doctor, this is common sense but I am saying this from experience.
Just as with BenGay my husband tried this for his arthritis and it helped but I couldnt go near him, so it does make it, in my opinion, a fairly non-functional product unless you live by yourself and dont plan on seeing anyone for a few hours.
The claim that this is not greasy is accurate. I dont even know it is on my shoulder after it is rubbed in.
My final thoughts:
I said in my BenGay review that I was talking with my Yoga instructor who recommends anything with the ingredient Caspian. She swears by this ingredient. Capsaicin is a type of chili pepper and there is evidence that it interferes with the neurotransmitter that sends the message to your brain that there is pain. I do know that I will be looking for Tiger Balm or a product with Capasaicin when I am finished with both of these products. I wont throw them away. Icy Hot does work and since I am using it only when I am in the gym or at home, I dont care what I smell like. You may and if you do, this one if not for you!
Research for those interested:
Chili peppers contain a molecule called Capsaicin, which has been intensely studied for its ability to arouse nerves that respond to painful stimuli, including hot temperatures. Depending on how much Capsaicin a food contains; it can produce sensations ranging from mild burning to searing heat. Long-term exposure to Capsaicin can reduce the sensitivity of those nerves, which is one reason why people often develop a tolerance to hot, spicy food. Because the same nerves contribute to the pain associated with inflammation, Capsaicin is used in topical ointments designed to reduce discomfort from arthritis and other inflammatory disorders
The most common "cooling" chemical is menthol, found in the peppermint plant. Menthol stimulates nerve endings that sense cold temperatures through mechanisms that are not well understood. There is evidence that menthol also activates nerves that signal pain, which is why strong minty flavors often have a burning or stinging qualityhence the name peppermint. Menthol, too, is used in balms for alleviating joint and muscle pain, although it appears to work by changing the way pain is sensed in the brain rather than by desensitizing the nerves themselves
Methyl salicylate also known as Oil of Wintergreen is a local anesthetic agent and disinfectant commonly used in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and perfumes. It can cause poisoning when used in too great doses.
Salicylates are commonly found in many OTC medications, prescription medications, and Chinese medicated oils. Although widely used, topical salicylates rarely produce systemic toxicity; however, this case presents that potential. Because methyl salicylate or oil of wintergreen is in liquid form and has high lipid solubility, it has the potential to produce acute, severe systemic salicylate toxicity.
Camphor has a strong, penetrating, fragrant odor, a bitter, pungent taste, and is slightly cold to the touch like menthol leaves; locally it is an irritant, numbs the peripheral sensory nerves, and is slightly antiseptic; it is not readily absorbed by the mucous membrane, but is easily absorbed by the subcutaneous tissue- it combines in the body with glucuronic acid, and in this condition is voided by the urine. Experiments on frogs show a depressant action to the spinal column, no motor disturbance, but a slow increasing paralysis; in mankind it causes convulsions, from the effect it has on the motor tract of the brain; it stimulates the intellectual centers and prevents narcotic drugs taking effect, but in cases of nervous excitement it has a soothing and quieting result. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/campho13.html#des
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