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Posted in Mind/Body/Spirit by Rocky Mountain Oils

This or That: Complete Relief Muscle Rub vs. IcyHot, Bengay & Tiger Balm

Body aches are very common. Sooner or later, everyone experiences a sore back, a pulled muscle, or a sprained ankle. Although you can take steps to minimize your risk of pain, like stretching before a workout and eating an anti-inflammatory diet, you'll still have days where you wake up feeling sore or stiff.

Thankfully, there are many over-the-counter products that provide effective, fast relief from muscle pain, body aches, cramping, and joint stiffness. Many people swear by ointments like IcyHot, Bengay, and Tiger Balm. But if you're mindful about the ingredients you put in your body, you may be looking for an all-natural alternative that's made with medicinal plants and essential oils instead. Is there a version of Tiger Balm, Bengay cream or IcyHot patch that's made with botanicals instead of harsh chemicals?

The answer is yes! By using natural compounds like arnica and capsaicin, you can experience fast relief from aches, pains, swelling, and stiffness. Essential oils like Clove, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Wintergreen also make effective topical pain relievers due to their anti-inflammatory properties and warming or cooling effects.

Whether you have arthritis, a bad back, a pulled hamstring, or an old sports injury like tennis elbow that flares up from time to time, natural pain relief is possible without products like Tiger Balm, Bengay or IcyHot. However, always consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you have a pre-existing condition or major medical concerns. If your pain worsens or lasts longer than a few days, contact your physician.

To compare and contrast these products, it helps to understand their active ingredients and how they work to soothe sore, aching muscles. Then, you can make an informed decision and choose the right muscle rub for your needs. Let's take a closer look at some of the most common topical pain relievers.

What Is IcyHot?

IcyHot is a liniment cream that utilizes menthol and methyl salicylate. These ingredients, which are derived from Wintergreen Oil, create a cooling, tingling sensation when applied to the skin. As they cool, they also stimulate nerve receptors and block pain receptors to the brain. This analgesic effect dulls the aches and soreness you may experience.

This product is used for backaches, minor arthritis pain, muscle soreness, strains and sprains, cramps, and bruising. It also contains lidocaine, a topical anesthetic. As its name implies, the initial cooling effect from the menthol and methyl salicylate is followed by a warming sensation that further eases mild pain.

It’s available in a cream or gel, as well as an Icy Hot Patch. The dermal patch is preferred by some because it's easier to apply. Simply peel off the backing, then lay the patch onto the affected area and apply gentle pressure to secure it. Patches are less messy and easy to remove. However, some studies question the effectiveness of over-the-counter analgesic patches like IcyHot.

This liniment may also cause sensitivity in some individuals. Occasionally, the active ingredients trigger a burning sensation, rash, or temporarily cause an increase in sensitivity to heat and sunlight. Some people also find the strong medicinal aroma off-putting.

What is Bengay?

Bengay is one of the oldest topical pain relief creams, dating back to 1898. It was developed by a French doctor to treat muscle aches, bruising, osteoarthritis, inflammation, and pain from over-use such after excessive physical activity or exercise. Like similar liniment creams, Bengay cream utilizes menthol and methyl salicylate, as well as an ingredient called capsaicin.


Capsaicin is a topical analgesic derived from hot chili peppers. It is known to increase blood flow, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation in the body. When applied topically in Bengay cream or other pain relief products, capsaicin reduces the effectiveness of pain transmitters in the nerves. This results in a numbing or dulling effect that offers quick temporary relief. Bengay also uses camphor, a terpene compound that reduces inflammation and promotes healing. 

However, despite its clear ingredients, researchers don’t entirely understand how Bengay cream works on the nerves that transmit pain signals. According to a study referenced in the MIT Technology Review, it’s unclear whether these products have benefits for chronic pain or simply provide acute relief for short-term aches like pulled muscles.

Check Out - Top 15 Essential Oils For Inflammation

What is Tiger Balm?

Tiger Balm is another popular ointment used for topical pain relief. It’s the modern version of a salve used in traditional Chinese medicine called Ten Thousand Golden Oil, which was developed by an herbalist named Aw Chu Kin in Burma in the 1870s. Later renamed Tiger Balm, it became one of the most popular pharmaceutical products in Asia in the early 1900s.

Using menthol and methyl salicylate, Tiger Balm causes the skin to feel cool, then warm. It’s popular among athletes as well as anyone who lives a physically active lifestyle and experiences occasional aches and soreness from exertion. It is also used to treat tendonitis and joint pain. 

Check Out - Top 15 Essential Oil For Sore Muscles

A Natural Alternative: Tohi Complete Relief

tohi complete relief

While IcyHot, Bengay, and Tiger Balm may provide topical pain relief, they’re not the only options. For an all-natural alternative, try Tohi Complete Relief Muscle Rub. Tohi Complete Relief provides a similar warming-cooling sensation that numbs and soothes pain without harsh chemicals, additives, or artificial fragrances. 

It’s 100% safe for topical use on adults for fast-acting relief from aches and pains. Try Tohi Complete Relief for injuries like strains and sprains, cramping, bruises, osteoarthritis and joint stiffness, or any time you go a little overboard with physical activity. This muscle rub cream harnesses the power of medicinal plants, including essential oils and botanicals.

Like common liniments, Complete Relief also contains menthol, methyl salicylate, and capsaicin. These ingredients help dull the sensation of pain while relaxing muscles to promote healing. 

But Tohi Complete Relief goes further. It also contains arnica, aloe leaf juice, and essential oils not found in other over-the-counter products.


Arnica complete relief

Arnica is one of nature’s best healing ingredients. It’s derived from a flower that’s closely related to daisies and is used to treat a variety of ailments, from muscle pain to burns. It has been used in traditional medicine as far back as the 1500s. 

Today, many people use arnica in salves and topical creams to manage pain naturally. Arnica reduces swelling and enhances cellular repair, boosting your body’s ability to recover and repair itself from injuries.

Aloe Leaf Juice

Aloe Leaf Juice

Aloe leaf juice, which comes from the aloe vera plant, is deeply hydrating and anti-inflammatory. It’s also high in antioxidants that revitalize the skin, reduce damage from oxidative stress, and promote cellular rejuvenation.

When used topically, aloe leaf juice also has analgesic properties. It’s one of the best natural ingredients to use on sunburns and abrasions, but you can experience its pain relief benefits on muscle injuries and strains, too. 

Essential Oils

Tohi Complete Relief also contains a powerful blend of medicinal essential oils to stimulate healing while providing a relaxing aroma to ease tension and stress. 

Peppermint: Peppermint essential oil provides a crisp, cooling, menthol-like sensation to reduce pain and swelling. 

peppermint oil

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus essential oil contains antioxidants called flavonoids as well as tannins that help reduce inflammation.

Eucalyptus essential oil

Clove: A “hot” oil that soothes pain and relaxes stiff muscle tissue when applied topically, Clove essential oil helps reduce body aches and arthritis pain.

clove oil

Ginger Root: Ginger Root essential oil is similarly warming, spicy, and contains an antioxidant called gingerol which promotes better blood flow and circulation.

ginger oil

Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang offers an uplifting floral aroma and may help lower blood pressure while reducing physical discomfort and tension.

ylang ylang oil

Camphor: Camphor essential oil has been shown to stimulate nerves and manage pain thanks to the natural terpene compounds it contains.

Wintergreen: Offering a cooling, tingling sensation that numbs and dulls pain, Wintergreen essential oil is similar to Peppermint and is a source of natural menthol.

wintergreen oil

Chamomile: Chamomile essential oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help in the treatment of back pain and neuralgia as well as stiff, aching joints.

Try Tohi Complete Relief for Muscle Pain

We only have one body, so it’s important to treat it with respect and choose high-quality products made with natural, plant-based botanical ingredients whenever possible. The next time you feel muscle pain or body aches, reach for Tohi Complete Relief Muscle Rub as a natural alternative to IcyHot and Bengay.