Summary: People are confused about the ingredients in Biofreeze. The only active ingredient is menthol. There are other less expensive over-the-counter products that contain menthol as the only active ingredient like BenGay Cold Therapy. Biofreeze does contain Ilax – a South American herb – but it is an inactive ingredient used to prevent a greasy texture.
Dear Curtis: I’m forty years old and was playing in a softball tournament this last weekend. My shoulder is killing me and frankly, always does when I throw anymore. Usually I just try some of the older products like Ben-Gay to help with the pain. But I came across Biofreeze and thought maybe I should give that a try because it’s a ‘cold’ treatment and not a hot one.
My question: after looking at the ingredient list I see a lot of the same things that I see in some of the other pain relieving gels. And Biofreeze costs more too. Is there anything special, better or different about the ingredients in Biofreeze or is it all a marketing thing?
I’ve seen Biofreeze for sale online and have often wondered myself what makes it special as the price is definitely higher than other creams.
After a little research I would say that while I don’t think trying Biofreeze would hurt I’m also far from being sold on the product as being superior.
As far as the ingredients go, you’re right. You’ll find a lot of similarities between most of the pain relieving creams and gels on the market but what differs is how they actually market their product. I have a few comments on that in a moment, but first let’s break down the ingredients to give you a better idea of what you are actually getting.
A Common Misconception With Biofreeze
It took me about five minutes of searching around online to find that most reviewers and people selling the product aren’t speaking the truth.
For example, one website claimed that Ilex – which I’ll discuss in a moment – was an active ingredient. By listing something as an active ingredient it means that it is suppose to exert some sort of therapeutic effect on your body.
Biofreeze’s own website clearly states that Ilex is an inactive ingredient and is included to give the balm a non-greasy texture.
Ilex is actually a South American herb. While it adds a nice storyline and aura to the product – the fact of the matter is doesn’t add anything to the overall effect of the Biofreeze. But because it’s kind of an exotic-sounding herbal product people just assume it must be better.
So, what are the active ingredients? According to their website there is only one active ingredient: menthol.
Menthol As A Pain Reliever
Menthol has been used as a pain reliever for a long time. Menthol works in providing pain relief by activating certain cold-sensitive receptors on your skin and simply giving your skin that feeling of ‘coolness’. There are some other theories about activating other receptors that may help with pain relief. But, it’s biggest effect is the cooling feeling.
Which brings up a really simple question: is Biofreeze – which is generally more expensive on a per ounce basis – really better than some other products with menthol as their main active ingredient? Say something like BenGay Cold Therapy?
In my opinion, I highly doubt it.
What I do think is that Biofreeze has marketed their product better from the get go. For example, they originally started selling it solely through practitioners like chiropractors and massage therapists.. Now you can get the product on Amazon. But, if you can get the support of these types of health care practitioners early it helps with the products reputation.
In fact, on the Biofreeze website it says that Biofreeze is the #1 used and recommended topical pain reliever by chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists and podiatrists.
Because my wife has been a massage therapist for 10 years I asked her opinion about the product. Basically, she shrugged her shoulders and said most people liked the cooling feeling. She felt like it was a little expensive and that it was the massage that was doing most of the work. She also said that you can get the same effect from icing an area as well
While you might read into my take on Biofreeze ingredients as a bit ‘harsh’ – I don’t intend to knock Biofreeze. But I’m willing to call a spade a spade.
Biofreeze has been helpful for a lot of folks. Their website contains testimonials. You can go over to iHerb and read user reviews of their products as well. Which I encourage you to do anyways because it can give you a more balanced view of the product.
But, as far as what the ingredients in Biofreeze are – the active ingredients, the ones that actually do something to your body – there really isn’t much difference between Biofreeze and other, less expensive products on the market.
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