Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Topical Pain Relief:  Magic Oil & Biofreeze

Because I focus on pain relief massage, there are two products I use a lot in treatment: what I call "Magic Oil" (arnica oil) and Biofreeze. I also sell them, so that people can have something to use for relief between massages. People often ask what the difference is, and what's better to use. The answer is: it depends on what's causing the pain. I'll compare and contrast the products here.

Magic Oil is for soreness due to overuse and injury. Biofreeze is a temporary pain blocker - an alternative to aspirin.

Magic Oil is an anti-inflammatory, specific for tissue trauma. It takes effect over several hours; but the effect will not "wear off." It is great for soreness due to:
    -Muscle soreness (from working out, doing unusual activities, etc)
    -Soreness from deep tissue massage
    -Pulled muscles, or sprains of tendons and ligaments
    -Injury or bruising - this includes auto accidents and surgery, as well as minor bumps & bruises.

Biofreeze is a non-drug, temporary pain blocker - the effect begins instantly, but wears off after a while, like aspirin. (It can be used up to four times each day.) It may work better for pain unrelated to tissue trauma, for instance: 
    -Pinched nerves, such as sciatica
    -Chronic neck & shoulder, or low back pain.

Magic Oil is simply olive oil infused with arnica flowers. There are many topical preparations of arnica out there - available in any health food store - and I have used many of them. I like to tell the story about how Magic Oil became my favorite. I had some very deep tissue work done on my ribs, and I was extremely sore. I used my favorite arnica product, but it didn't even touch the soreness - it was just as bad the next day! By coincidence, I received my first order of Magic Oil just then. So I tried it out, using a mere two drops on each side of my ribs, rubbing it in well. The next day, the soreness was completely gone! I was hooked, and haven't bought another product since.

Biofreeze is similar in action to Ben Gay, Icy Hot, Tiger Balm, capsaicin cream, and good old-fashioned liniment. These products work by a principle called "counter-irritation." It works like this: the brain can only process so many sensations at once. By applying something which causes either a cooling or heating sensation to the skin, it may override pain signals from the muscles and nerves underneath.

I prefer Biofreeze to the other products I mentioned above for several reasons. Unlike other products:
    -It's non-greasy, so it doesn't soak into your clothes
    -The scent vanishes after a few minutes, so you don't smell strange all day, and
    -The new hands-free applicator makes it perfect for applying to achy knuckles.

Although these are general guidelines, "your mileage may vary." Some of my clients actually prefer the Magic Oil for arthritic joints, for instance. And I find that Biofreeze seems to work on some types of pain better than others. The best way to find out is to experiment and see for yourself.

If you're interested in either one, just ask me about it next time you're in. We can try them in treatment, and I also have Biofreeze samples you can take home.

Magic Oil 1/2 oz  $15,  1 oz $25
Biofreeze 4 oz $17.50
(Prices include tax)