While joint, muscle, back or arthritic pain can affect one at any time of the year, many people feel increased effects during the winter months due to the cold. Muscle or joint pain specifically, can become harsher as the temperature drops lower and can put a damper on allowing you to enjoy daily tasks, including winter activities. According to the CDC, in a survey done in 2006, approximately 30% of US adults reported experiencing some type of joint pain during the preceding 30 days. In Canada, estimates show that between 15% and 29% of the Canadian population suffers from incidences of pain, especially in the winter months when the cooling weather aggravates the muscles and joints.
So what is one to do? From a natural health standpoint, it would be most valuable to practice healthy lifestyle habits on a mind, body and spirit level that lead to prevention, and even healing. However in our quick fix driven society, the first thing most people reach for are over the counter pain relieving medicines. These can include pills, sprays, creams or gels. In this review, I will share with you about one such new product—Stopain Cold Gel—that will no doubt be considered by many for their needs.
Now personally I have no use for such a product myself, as I do not suffer any pains whatsoever, and to be honest if I did, I would not use them. (I would instead use Mind-Body healing techniques like meditation or truly natural healing alternatives.) However, I know that many in our population as the statistics above imply do, and I even know several people close to me that would depend on and use products like this. Hence I decided to do the review having them test it, and share about it all with you.
Although not exactly a new product, Stopain has grown over 2 decades to become today an international product for the North American market. It was created in 1991 by a pharmacist in California with the first formula being a spray. It made its first retail presence in 2000 in the US. Over the last decade it grew by adding the roll-on to its line-up and in 2011, the latest form added was the gel, which will be the focus of this review. As of 2012, it has become widely available in Canada. It comes in the following 4 varieties:
- Stopain Cold 8oz Spray Regular Strength
- Stopain Cold 4oz Spray Extra Strength
- Stopain Cold 3oz Roll-On Extra Strength
- Stopain Cold 2.5oz Gel Regular Strength
In this review I will share generally about each one, and specifically about the Stopain Cold Gel—the newest formula to join the product line—which is what I got my parents and sister to try.
Each of the varieties are meant to do the same job, and come in the different formats for personal preference and convenience. The spray and the roll-on are promoted as a convenient option for anyone who does not want to “touch” the product and keep their hands clean. The spray is supposed to be no drip, clear, non-staining and non-greasy.
The formulas are based on the active, medicinal ingredient menthol, promoted as being recognized by the FDA as an analgesic indicated for the temporary relief of minor pains and stiffness from arthritis, muscle aches, strains and simple backaches. The regular strength options have 6% menthol, and the extra strength have 8% menthol. The extra strength also have added natural supplements – glucosamine and MSM – both of which support joint health. The products are promoted as having a light vanishing scent, or in the case of the Stopain Cold Gel, a light, pleasant scent. They are also promoted as being fast acting and long lasting.
Stopain Cold Gel
As mentioned, this product was tried by my parents who are in the 55-65 age bracket and have occasional mild to moderate joint, muscle or back pain. It was also tried by my sister who is in her 20’s and occasionally suffers from shin splints, as well as some muscle aches.
In terms of ingredients, from a natural health perspective the menthol, glucosamine and MSM are all fantastic. As per EWG’s Cosmetic Database, menthol is a scent ingredient naturally found in peppermint oil, and manufactured synthetically on a large scale. It is rated as 1, meaning a low hazard. The non-medicinal ingredients include a few which do not qualify for those interested in natural health, and I know I would not be willing to put them on my skin. Propylene glycol for example, is used in numerous personal care products today, including medication for adults and children, as well as some food. It has various toxic or health problems linked to it, including being an allergen and causing skin irritations when used topically. Triethanolamine has strong links to being a skin, immune and respiratory system toxicant. To add, the group of ingredients directly and indirectly are drying, so the area of the skin that we put this product on, can be prone to dry or irritated skin, depending on frequency of use and your skin’s sensitivity.
In terms of scent, all three testers stated that the scent was strong, and not “light and pleasant” as the claim for the product goes. Yes, we have to expect that menthol is going to a very aromatic substance, but I smelled the product myself and it wasn’t that nice, natural smelling menthol that at least one can learn to enjoy. I think this is due to the mix of Arnica flower added in to tone down the menthol smell. Either way the testers first feedback about it, was how strong the smell was.
As for it being a gel, none of them minded this format. If you don’t want to get this product on your hands, (for example if you are on the go, or in a setting where you cannot easily wash them) then trying the roll-on would be a better way to go. I am not a fan of sprays as they just disperse more chemical particles into the air for us to inhale.
In conclusion, there is potential value in this product for people who are not overly concerned with what they put on their body. My personal recommendation is not in favor of products like this as they can add to the compounding effect of all the everyday toxins that we put into and onto our bodies. But again, you will have to decide what is right for you given your personal needs and comfort level.
- Menthol 6%
- Arnica montana Flower extract_FLOWER_EXTRACT/) (rated 0 = low hazard)
- Carbomer (rated 0 = low hazard)
- Propylene Glycol (rated 3 = moderate hazard)
- SD Alcohol 39-C (rated 2 = low hazard)
- Silica (rated 0-2 depending on usage = low hazard)
- Triethanolamine (rated 5 = moderate concern)
* Ratings based on EWG Cosmetic Database
The gel comes in a typical soft plastic tube, and is housed inside of a soft cardboard box. Both are recyclable when product is finished. The gel comes in a 2.5 fl. oz./70.8g size.
Price (as of this posting)
- $5-$7 US/CDN per 2.5oz/70.8g tube at local drug stores
- $5.99 US per tube from DrugStore.com
- $5.99 US per tube from Amazon.com
- Widely available in pharmacies or drug store sections across US, like Walgreens
- Widely available in pharmacies or drug store sections across Canada, like Shopper’s Drug Mart
- Various online retailers
- Valuable active ingredient
- Some natural, good ingredients
- Non-greasy, Non-staining formula
- Fair price
- Strong (unpleasant) scent
- Will not be effective for everyone
- Includes some harmful ingredients
- Can dry out, or irritate skin