The Best & The Worst (Including Those Containing a Potentially Life-Threatening Ingredient!)
Chronic pain impacts 116 million Americans — that’s more than the number of people who suffer from diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.[i] Back pain is by far the most common type of pain, with 27 percent of those who responded to a National Institute of Health Statistics survey noting that back pain was a problem for them.[ii]
The pain can become so severe that it spreads into your buttocks and legs, causing weakness when you walk and flaring up any time you attempt to carry on with your daily activities.
If you live with back pain, you’ll most likely easily understand why it is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old — and this isn’t only due to the physical toll it takes. Living with chronic pain is a heavy emotional burden to bear, and as such those with low back pain are nearly five times as likely to suffer from serious psychological distress compared to those without it.[iii]
It goes without saying that pain relief is, therefore, literally a lifeline for those with chronic back pain, and many opt for back pain cream to help soothe and relieve their discomfort.
Depending on which type you choose, however, you may or may not actually find relief — and some may even carry significant risks.
Popular Back Pain Creams Only Distract You from Your Pain
The best types of pain relief are not only skin deep; they work to address the foundational causes of your pain so your body can truly heal.
Unfortunately, this is not the way most back pain creams on the market work, and as a result many such products at your drug store will only temporarily cover up your pain until the application wears off.
Take Icy Hot cream or BenGay, for instance. These contain methyl salicylate and large amounts of menthol, which essentially act as “counterirritants.” While the menthol cools your skin, the methyl salicylate warms it, causing a cooling-warming sensation on your skin that basically only distracts you from the deeper pain beneath.
Menthol in and of itself is a useful ingredient, as it increases blood flow and circulation to the area it’s applied to, which helps eliminate waste in your blood and speed healing.
HOWEVER, most back pain creams contain far too much menthol, so much so that it can cause a burning sensation on your skin, fingers and eyes (not to mention make your fingers smelly).
Methyl salicylate, on the other hand, can be incredibly dangerous and even deadly in certain circumstances.
Products That Contain Methyl Salicylate Can be Deadly
Methyl salicylate is a compound similar to aspirin that’s added to many deep-heating creams used to relieve sore muscles and back pain. Also known as oil of wintergreen, the chemical can be deadly if consumed orally, especially by small children, but can also be toxic when applied topically to your skin.
In 2007, a 17-year-old athlete died after using a popular pain-relieving cream, and high levels of methyl salicylate were found in her body.
The ingredient is particularly dangerous when applied in excess or with chronic use, but it’s possible for your body to absorb a higher than normal amount of the chemical even when you use the product as directed. For instance, exercise and heat can both increase the chemical’s rate of absorption (a particularly concerning association since these creams are often used by athletes).
When used in excess, methyl salicylate may lead to convulsions and can cause brain regions that control breathing to become overstimulated, leading to hyperventilation and nervous-system problems. If you have any of these products around your home, be sure to keep them out of the reach of children. Just one teaspoon of 98% methyl salicylate contains as much salicylate as nearly 90 baby aspirins — which is more than four times the toxic dose for a 22-pound child.[iv]
Incidentally, methyl salicylate was actually first registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1972 — as a pesticide.[v]
Is this really an ingredient you feel good about rubbing into your skin?
Is There a Safer Back Pain Cream?
Given the potential side effects, you may find the risks of methyl salicylate-containing creams to be too high. Or, you may desire a pain-relief option that will do more than just mask your symptoms; you’re looking for real relief.
Such a back pain cream does exist, and it’s called Rub on Relief. This is a broad-spectrum homeopathic pain cream that was formulated to address many of the foundational reasons why you are in pain.
While giving you the simplicity and fast-acting relief you expect from a pain cream — as the name says, you simply rub it on for relief — Rub on Relief does so without methyl salicylate, and it contains no other questionable ingredients either, including NO parabens, petrolatum, paraffin, mineral oil, toluene, artificial colors, preservatives or NSAID drugs of any kind.
What is does contain is a synergistic blend of homeopathic ingredients, each carefully selected to address pain and inflammation from a slightly differently angle:
- Belladonna: A plant that impacts your body’s nervous system, belladonna is used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease as well as for pain relief
- Ignatia: A plant that has been used by Chinese doctors for centuries to help calm the nerves and relieve pain due to emotional upset. There is often an emotional component to back pain, and it’s widely known that relieving psychological pain helps improve physical pain
- Rhus Tox: Useful for easing a variety of inflammatory symptoms, Rhus tox has been used for over 200 years for complaints back pain, arthritic pain and much more
- Phosphorus: Helps reduce the burning sensation in your muscles by regulating the nerves that send “pain” message to your brain
- Naja: Relieves inflammation and pain in nerve tissue
- Lachesis Mutus: Has a blood-thinning, or anticoagulant, function, which enhances blood flow and facilitates the healing process by hastening the removal of toxins from your blood
- Menthol: A balanced amount of menthol gives you relief without the burning other creams cause
- MSM: Delivers vital sulphur to your connective tissue to form healthy bonds in your cells and joints for faster healing and pain relief
Whereas with most back pain creams the mechanism of action is the cooling or heating sensation, Rub on Relief does not rely on cool or heat sensations for effectiveness.
Because of the small amount of menthol in the formula, you may feel a slight cooling sensation immediately after applying Rub on Relief, but the active ingredients keep working long after the cooling sensation disappears. Plus, this homeopathic cream has no known side effects, even when used on many different body parts at the same time (not to mention, it has a 100% success rate to date).
If back pain has been holding you back from living your life fully, know that there are other safer and more effective options to the popular back pain creams at your drug store. You deserve to be safely pain free — and you can achieve this reality using all-natural means.
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[ii] Institute of Medicine Report, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research (2011)
[v] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reregistration Eligibility Document METHYL SALICYLATE 076601