What Exactly Does Icy Hot Do, Anyway?

What does Icy Hot do?

Besides leaving you with a chemical burn if you use too much?

Icy Hot does some stuff. Not everything you wish it did, but it’s not totally useless.

Maybe you’ve used Icy Hot or Biofreeze simply because that’s what your fellow athletes turned to for assistance with pain management associated with physical activity. If it’s good enough for Shaq, it’s gotta be good enough for you, right?

Maybe not. After all, is it REALLY good enough for Shaq?

Is Icy Hot better than Biofreeze?

How are we defining “better” anyway?

Something might relieve my pain that doesn’t relieve your pain, so we’re going to try to keep things objective here.

What is in Biofreeze?

Biofreeze relies on Menthol as the only active ingredient. Menthol relieves pain by delivering a temporary cooling sensation. It doesn’t really treat anything though. It’s great at temporarily distracting your brain from pain, but that’s about it.

There are studies that have shown participants that use a menthol gel before exercise experienced significantly reduced pain compared to the participants that used a placebo gel. These folks know more about that than we do though. (Link)

Outside of its active ingredients, Biofreeze does have some other decent inactive ingredients. Aloe and arnica are two that stand out.

Aloe is most well-known for helping with sunburn. In this case it’s present to help counter the potential irritant effects of menthol. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s probably not doing much to help your sore muscles and joints.

Arnica has been shown to help with pain and inflammation, but it’s also not short on side effects. Arnica can be quite toxic. It’s not advised for pregnant or nursing women in any forms, including topical. Seems harsh…

Overall, the menthol gel can help you feel a little better during activity, but that’s about it.

What is in Icy Hot?

True to its name, Icy Hot delivers a cooling and warming sensation.

While Biofreeze also remains true to its name and only delivers a cooling sensation.

You can chalk the difference up to personal preference, but it’s fair to say Icy Hot is doing more than Biofreeze simply by offering the additional warming experience.

Since we’ve already covered what menthol does, let’s talk about the second active ingredient Icy Hot offers – methyl salicylate.

Why does Icy Hot feel really hot?

Why does Icy Hot feel really hot?

The warming sensation is produced by methyl salicylate, or in some of Icy Hot’s formulas they rely on camphor. In the ole faithful original formula they use methyl salicylate. Both can be responsible for Icy Hot feeling really hot.

Methyl salicylate works similar to menthol, but with a warming sensation instead of a cooling sensation. It’s delivering temporary acute pain relief to the area of application by essentially distracting the brain from the pain. Still not treating or fixing anything. (Link)

Icy Hot doesn’t have any inactive ingredients even worth mentioning unless you’re looking for a chemistry lesson.

Bottom line: that really hot feeling probably means you’ve used too much. Proceed with caution and always stay within the recommended amount.

Icy Hot vs Biofreeze Conclusion

Both deliver temporary pain relief.

Biofreeze uses 4% menthol, Icy Hot uses 10% menthol AND 30% methyl salicylate.

Both are fantastic at making sure they always leave you wanting more. Whether that’s good for you or not is up to you.

By objective measures it seems like Icy Hot is doing more to relieve pain (assuming more equals better… maybe it doesn’t?). After all, too much of any of these ingredients will be a problem. The side effects of methyl salicylate and arnica are less than pleasant.

Is Icy Hot better than Life Leaf Remedies Deep Comforts?

Let’s continue with our objective theme of comparison. You know about Icy Hot, so let’s take a look at Deep Comforts.

What is in Life Leaf’s Deep Comforts cream?

We all come to the table with a common active, menthol. Deep Comforts only offers 1.25% though. Whether more equals better, or not, is really up to you.

Cooling, pain-relieving sensation covered. Does Deep Comforts offer a warming sensation like Icy Hot?

Yes, and no…

Yes – Deep Comforts does include a warming experience, but not like Icy Hot’s. Deep Comforts doesn’t rely on methyl salicylate for its warming sensation. Instead, it relies on capsaicin.

(These people know a lot about capsaicin. Link)

Capsaicin is extracted from chili peppers, and like methyl salicylate, it also helps to mask pain. The two still work a little bit different, and capsaicin actually works better with repeated use, while there is no evidence of that with methyl salicylate. The analgesic effects of capsaicin come from the pain receptors essentially being desensitized.

The idea is similar to fighting fire with fire. The capsaicin introduces a warming sensation to the pain receptors and makes them less sensitive to irritants that would cause pain. You should always read what the people smarter than us say about these things – here.

Quick recap on the Deep Comforts. First, the menthol delivers cooling relief. Followed by the balanced warming sensation to desensitize those pain receptors. Then comes the real difference-maker – Celadrin.

Celadrin is a patented combination of essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation and pain quickly… with no side effects. Celadrin takes the Deep Comforts cream beyond just masking or dulling pain. Celadrin helps to improve the function of your cellular membrane, which protects the cell and repels stressors. This also leads to improved lubrication of the joints, which can improve joint function and strength.

Clinical studies – here.

Celadrin is so cool we did a full blog on it recently – here.

So which one is better? We’ll leave that to you to decide. Let us know what you decide in the comments.

Who needs a competition anyway? You came here to find out what Icy Hot does after all.

Does Icy Hot work for nerve pain?

Excellent question. Just based on what we know about the active ingredients for Icy Hot, we can say those ingredients aren’t known for benefits associated with nerve pain. Menthol and methyl salicylate are more commonly known for their benefits associated with joint and muscle pain.

Nerve pain is not going to have the same causes as joint or muscle pain do.

You should consult with your personal healthcare professional for help with nerve pain.

For that matter, you should consult with your personal healthcare professional before trying any new forms of pain management. It’s important to understand how different things can impact you individually before taking unnecessary risks with new substances.

Does Icy Hot have aspirin in it?

No. Icy Hot does not have aspirin in it. It’s good practice to consult the ingredients list of any and all products you are consuming. Especially if you have known allergies, you’ll always want to make sure the products you are interacting with don’t contain something you are allergic to, or would otherwise cause you to experience an adverse effect.

So what does Icy Hot do?

It essentially masks pain. That’s something.

It’s not using all natural ingredients.

It’s not fixing anything.

Good enough for Shaq? Eh…

If you’re looking for natural solutions that can keep up with your physical demands, and actually help you FEEL BETTER TODAY, we’ve got a natural remedy for that. The natural power of Celadrin, capsaicin, menthol, and hemp combined together in one cream – Deep Comforts.

Deep Comforts pain relief cream



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