Before After
  What Doctors Don't Tell You
                          Because They Don't Know

Article Details

Menthol-Based Pain Relievers For Arthritis: Icy Hot®, BioFreeze®, and Tiger Balm®

by Cassandra Willis

Author of Articles on Topical Liniments

How Does Icy Hot® Work for Arthritis Pain?

Icy Hot® combines two pain-relieving therapies: ice and heat. The ice comes from menthol, which stimulates blood flow and cools the area to reduce inflammation. The heat comes from the methyl salicylate, a form of aspirin that heats up after application.

Treating arthritis pain with this kind of topical aspirin is better than taking it orally, in terms of healing arthritis, because aspirin damages the stomach. With food sensitivities being the underlying cause of arthritis, it is important to maintain a healthy stomach and digestion. Taking aspirin and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) orally increases stomach permeability, letting partially digested food out into the blood stream where it is attacked as a foreign invader. Using Icy Hot® avoids this potential pain-relief pitfall.

Inflammation from these food sensitivity attacks is the cause of pain and joint damage in arthritis. Because the active ingredients in Icy Hot® reduce inflammation, they both soothe pain and deter future joint damage. Though menthol is one way to stimulate blood flow and reduce inflammation, simply moving the painful joint achieves the same goal and is very beneficial for your arthritis as well.

What Are the Disadvantages of Icy Hot®

In my experience, Icy Hot® can wear off fairly quickly and need to be reapplied. If you have sensitive skin, this product also may not work for you. Both active ingredients can be skin irritants, especially methyl salicylate.

In addition, methyl salicylate is also toxic when consumed and or absorbed through the skin in excessive amounts. It is a good idea to alternate the use of Icy Hot® with one or more other products to avoid overdose. You can look up the toxicity of any product you’re considering on the EWG cosmetics database.


What Other Menthol-Based Products Are Available?

Biofreeze®: Ingredients and How They Work for Arthritis Pain

If your arthritis doesn’t respond well to heat, or you’d prefer a more natural product, BioFreeze® is another great menthol-based topical pain reliever. After being introduced to it by a masseuse, I’ve found that it lasts a lot longer than Icy Hot®, for both cooling and pain relief. Along with natural menthol, BioFreeze® also contains arnica, natural camphor and ILEX paraguariensis to alleviate pain after the initial “freeze” is over.

Arnica is a homeopathic anti-inflammatory agent that is used widely for inflammation pain. Camphor acts similar to menthol, but also acts as a numbing agent and provides the product with a pleasant smell. ILEX, an herbal extract of the yerba mate plant, is a natural pain reliever that has been used in South America for centuries. You may also experience an energy boost from the ILEX. However, if you are sensitive to caffeine, you should avoid pain relievers and other medicines that contain ILEX. Together, these natural substances form a powerful pain reliever made specifically for arthritis, muscle, and joint pain.

Unfortunately, if you have sensitive skin, BioFreeze® still may not work for you as it does contain menthol, but, because it does not contain methly salicylate, it is less irritating than Icy Hot®.

Tiger Balm®: Ingredients and How They Work for Arthritis Pain

Like Biofreeze®, Tiger Balm® also uses menthol and camphor as its active ingredients. There are two main differences in formula though.

First, Tiger Balm® contains a much stronger dose of menthol and camphor so it creates a more intense heating and cooling sensation. This may be preferable depending on the level of pain you are trying to ease. With this higher concentration, it is suggested you test the balm on a small area to check for sensitivity before you apply it to all that ails you.

Second, it uses paraffin petrolatum as its base. Because the skin can't absorb petrolatum, using this product will leave a greasy layer on the skin. This doesn't affect the effectiveness of the product's ability to fight pain and stiffness, but is something to consider.


Food Sensitivity Considerations

Food and chemical sensitivities are the number one underlying cause of arthritis. Sensitivities can be triggered when the body is exposed to substances through consumption, inhalation, and skin absorption. If you find that you feel fatigued, foggy, or in more pain after using any product, you may be reacting to one or more of its ingredients. If you already know what your sensitivities are, it is important to check the ingredients and their sources before using a product.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, if you’re having trouble locating a menthol-based pain reliever that is safe for you, simply moving your joint can have the same effect as using these type of pain relievers. The menthol reduces pain because it stimulates blood flow, which has the same effect of mechanically moving the joint. For more information about food and chemical sensitivities and how to identify them, read about the ALCAT Test.

→Check out the next article in Cassandra's series here.

3 Comments On Menthol-Based Pain Relievers For Arthritis: Icy Hot®, BioFreeze®, and Tiger Balm®

Great information!!

Date : 11th Jun 2018   |  By : Rhonda McNish
Aspirin is one of the main causes of esophogeal hemorrhages, in addition to causing and aggravating stomach pain due to lesions in the lining of the stomach. Topical aspirin, whether contained in camphor, menthol, wintergreen oil, and willow bark can also be responded to by the esophagus and stomach because of quick transmission via the bloodstream! If you have a history of GI bleeds or ulcers, avoid anything containing salicylates. All drugs are mediated by the liver and a compromised liver will foster serious reactions to anything containing aspirin. The voice of experience. PH

Date : 17th Oct 2016   |  By : Phoebe hummel
Thank you for this valuable information; BIOFREEZE IT IS!

Date : 26th Sep 2016   |  By : Robert Wilson

Leave a Reply
Name *
Email *
Comment *

Follow Barbara Allan



This book provides practical, detailed information that is critical for the successful healing of arthritis, but that has never before been collected in one place.

Learn More
This 28 week course guides you step by doable step through the arthritis healing process. Barbara delivers the lessons by online video.  You have a chance to ask questions after each lesson.

Already a member? Sign In!

Learn More
Meditation CDs
These are the meditations that helped Barbara Allan fully conquer her arthritis.  They retrained her response to pain, providing deep physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing.

Learn More
ALCAT Blood Test
The ALCAT test screens for inflammatory reactions triggered by over 350 common foods, food additives,molds, medications and chemicals in our environment. This test gives you a huge head start in your healing process.

Learn More
Speak directly with Barbara Allan for her help in personalizing her system to your specific needs and overcoming any obstacles you encounter on the path to healing.  

Learn More
One of Everything
The One of Everything package includes all of the support materials Barbara Allan offers.  If you're ready for the whole enchilada, this is for you.

Learn More
An online community of support for those healing their arthritis, food sensitivities, or other autoimmune diseases.
Learn More
How is Barbara's health is now? She's doing fantastic, with no arthritis at all since 1999. She still enjoys cooking. This is where she shares her delicious recipes for curing arthritis.
Learn More
Articles on arthritis and what it takes to heal it. A treasure drove of information.
Learn More



Reader's Questions


Most Popular


Recent Comments


Latest from Twitter


Latest from Facebook