Curious about all-natural topical pain creams and rubs? Do they work? Are they safe? Let’s have a review of some of the commonly used products and find out!
First up, we have Prairie Naturals MSM cream.
MSM, which stands for methylsulfonylmethane, is a compound most often used for pain, although there is limited evidence for this. Topically, MSM is used for relieving chronic pain, osteoarthritis, and muscle cramps, and can also be used to improve skin texture and elasticity (such as the appearance of wrinkles, stretch marks, and scar tissue). Safety-wise, studies have shown it is non-toxic and safe to use short-term up to 20 days (longer studies have not been done to support long-term use). It is believed that MSM has anti-inflammatory properties, which may be how it helps to improve pain. We recommend MSM cream to be used topically to the affected area(s) up to three times daily for 2 to 3 weeks.
Next, we have Karma Rub, straight from Australia!
Karma Rub contains magnesium in a lemon myrtle oil base (along with minerals zinc, iron, and copper). Topical magnesium is thought to absorb through our skin and into our bloodstream, although trials which have looked at how much is absorbed are small. Also, most topical magnesium products do not specify the magnesium concentration contained within, so it is difficult to conclude whether the absorbed concentration would even be high enough to have a clinical impact. It is thought that topical magnesium should increase our blood magnesium levels, which could then provide magnesium to muscles which would allow for improved muscle repair and therefore less cramping and pain. Specifically, this can be beneficial in high level athletes and those who exercise frequently, as exercise depletes magnesium stores. Overall, topical magnesium application on an as needed basis should be safe for most people, although those with heart conditions or kidney disease should discuss use of such products with their health care provider or pharmacist.
Last, we will look at Mountain Medicinals Pain Relief Now Extra Strength pain spray.
This spray was created by two local Okanagan pharmacists, and is available in regular strength and roll-on formulations. The main active ingredients within the extra strength formulation include menthol, camphor, and peppermint oil, which provide a cooling sensation to “trick” our brain’s perception of pain. Also included in this formula is methyl salicylate, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent similar to ibuprofen and Aspirin®. This product is similar to the various Rub A535 and Myoflex commercially-available creams. With the exception of patients taking blood thinners, Pain Relief Now Extra Strength spray is a safe agent that can be used to temporarily relieve muscle aches and pains.
In conclusion, the above products are all options to trial when seeking a natural topical pain reliever. Email us any questions you may have, and we would be happy to answer them!
Author: Chelsea Argent, RPh.