Biofreeze and Sombra are topical analgesic products.
What are Biofreeze and Sombra?
Many patients who visit chiropractors appreciate the natural ability of the body to heal itself. Sometimes, during treatment, there may still be some sore areas, and patients may not be inclined to take internal over-the-counter or prescription medications, due to the risks of side-effects. There are medical topical creams and ointments that can be used, but there are products that provide a more natural alternative to those: Biofreeze and Sombra. Biofreeze is a gel that contains menthol as well as homeopathic ingredients. Biofreeze is used to relieve sore muscles and sprains/strains, as well as neck and shoulder pain, and to reduce discomfort in joints in the knee, hip, elbow, and ankle. It can be a cold therapy pain treatment for arthritis, as well. Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, is meant to decrease pain, and Biofreeze is a “topical analgesic that delivers the therapeutic benefits of cryotherapy. It is said to be “the No. 1 clinically used and recommended topical analgesic”.1 Sombra also sells topical relieving products, including warm and cool relieving gels, oils, and lotions. Massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors may recommend Sombra products, too.2 Both products can be purchased through hands-on healthcare professionals.
Biofreeze is “vegetarian friendly”, with no animal products contained in it, and it is not tested on animals. Biofreeze ingredients include botanical additions, including the following: arnica, aloe, boswellia, calendula, green tea, burdock, and lemon balm. There is even a dye-free version available. The latest formulation has a higher percentage of menthol, and it includes vitamin E.3 It works so effectively because it not only helps to manage minor pains, but it does so in a targeted way, in order to reduce the risk of toxicity and drug interaction. Biofreeze has been around for over 20 years, and it can help people reduce pain and continue a “healthy lifestyle”. It uses “cold therapy”, via the ingredient menthol, because the sensation of cold can inhibit the pain signals from reaching the brain, reducing pain perception, and it allows patients relief while they are recovering from injury and healing with therapy, such as chiropractic. Biofreeze is superior to ice, because ice can cause “stiffness, skin irritation, temporary pain and numbness, and requires (the) patient to remain stationary”. It is nearly two times as effective as ice in reducing pain, it is more comfortable, and its effects last longer than ice. These results were found in a 2009 study called “Effects of Biofreeze vs. Acute, Non-Complicated Neck Pain”.4 It is important to remember that when using Biofreeze, patients should not combine it with a heating pad because it works by cooling the area, and patients could inadvertently burn themselves by applying too much heat. Patients should also not bandage the area where Biofreeze is applied.5
Sombra products include a variety of topical relievers. There is the Original Warm Therapy, which is used to help with muscle and joint pains from injury, strains, or arthritis. It can be used in ultrasound. Sombra ingredients include camphor, menthol, and a variety of natural and botanical ingredients, such as aloe, capsaicin, grapefruit seed, green tea, orange peel, queen of the prairie, rosewater, yucca, and witch hazel.6 There is a Cool Therapy, which uses just menthol, with the natural ingredients, and no capsaicin.7 Sombra also sells Massage Lotion and Massage Crème, which also contain many natural ingredients, such as aloe, avocado oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil, rosewood oil, menthol, yucca, capsaicin, and vitamin E.8 Like Biofreeze, Sombra cooling products should not be combined with heating pads. Sombra can, however, be used with breathable wraps and combined with ice.9
Buying Biofreeze and Sombra and Testimonials
Biofreeze can be purchased from a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor or massage therapist, and there is a search tool on their website.10 Although it had been on CVS pharmacy shelves, it had since been removed, as Biofreeze was meant to be distributed only through healthcare professionals. The company who makes the product, Performance Health/Hygenic, has launched a separate retail brand called Perform® Pain Reliever, which has a “lower level of menthol”.11 Recently, Biofreeze has become available on online retail sites. Sombra is “only sold to certified health professionals”, and they also have a search tool to find practitioners.12 As with Biofreeze, Sombra is available through some online retailers, as well.13 Sombra users have described the products as “a staple in my massage practice”, “a powerful and effective physiological adjunct to the chiropractic adjustment”, and note that Sombra has “quick and consistent results”.14 Biofreeze testimonials include such praise as “more comfortable and effective than ice”, “reduces pain without an unpleasant odor, staining, or oily after-feel”, and that it is “a safe, low-cost and simple option to address my patient’s symptoms”.15
3, 5 http://biofreeze.com/page/en/faqs-consumer.aspx#faq_47