The benefits of hot and cold therapy, and Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel
Author: Daliah Hurwitz
Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel is recommended to use as a massaging agent to treat inflammation and ease pain perception. Due to the analgesic effect of menthol in this gel, rubbing it lightly onto the skin after a massage or after a shower/ bath will have a very cooling and soothing effect on stiff, sore muscles and a refreshing effect on a tired body thanks to the mint smell of the active ingredient, especially after a heavy training day or rehab session. If the gel is used for a deeper tissue massage, the harder, deeper technique will cause the menthol to heat up the muscles, increasing blood flow to the area, relieving spasms, and along with the arnica and Wintergreen oil will alleviate inflammation and pain in muscles, joints and ligaments for an extended period of time allowing for easier movement.
The immediate sensations of icy cold, then hot, then cold, then hot and on and on, to alleviate pain, is felt almost immediately when the product is applied to the skin. So its beneficial to use this product on an injury once the acuteness of the injury has been addresses and treated with cold therapies like Ice spay, Icy Arnica Gel, Ice and P.R.I.C.E. protocols. Once the rehab of an injury has begun Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel is a great alternative to use for its cooling sensation benefits, aswell as its heating sensation benefits when it is time to heat up an area where scar tissue needs to be massage inorder to be softened or broken down to make the healing injury more mobile, or alternatively to help ease stiff or spasming muscles which tend to compensating for an injured area.
The combination of hot and cold therapy has been used consistently since the late 1940’s mainly in the form of hot and cold packs that could be refrigerated or put in hot water or later microwaved depending on the need.
However actual cold therapies date back as far as 3500B.C. to ancient texts known as the Edwin Smith Papyrus texts and later in history to Napoleons Russian Campaign in the early 19th century when French army surgeon Baron de Larrey was said to pack ice round limbs prior to amputation to make the procedure as numb and painless as possible. We have come on leaps and bound since then and in 1978 a Japanese doctor named Toshima Yamauchi while seeking a treatment for Rheumatoid arthritis discovered that applying freezing instruments to small target areas on the body, reduced pain and inflammation and in so doing invented cryotherapy. This therapy is still being improved and used today, especially by athletes to speed up recovery in simple ways like ice baths, to more complex ways like cryochambers.
Cold therapy is also said to improve one’s mental health. For those suffering with depression or even just lethargy, a cold bath, shower or swim can work like a gentle version of electroshock therapy. The cold water sends electrical impulses to the brain jolting the system into improved alertness and increased energy levels, while also helping to release the bodies feel good hormones called endorphins. There is even a world-wide phenomenon known as the Polar Bear Club or Plunge held in winter where people take a swim in freezing cold water mainly for charity, in the USA and Canada this is usually done on New Year’s Day but in many Scandinavian countries they have been cutting holes in the ice and taking a dip in freezing water since the 1700’s.
Alternatively the history of heat therapy can be traced back to 500B.C. to ancient Egyptians physicians use of heat therapy through the sun rays, thermal baths, mud baths and hot air caverns linked to volcanic sources. The ancient Greeks were also known to use heat therapy to treat muscle spasms and pain, aswell as skin conditions and disease. Hippocrates the father of medicine believed that by heating up the body many illnesses could be cures. Famously quoted as saying “Give me a power to produce fever and i will cure all disease”. The Romans took heat therapy a step further making it a social affair, even if men and women had separate facilities. The Romans built huge structures that we know as the roman baths, containing warm rooms (sauna –dry heat, to relax stiff muscles), hot rooms (steam rooms, moisture added to help the body sweat, detox and improve cardiovascular health) and the cold rooms( cold pools used to rebalance body temperature).
Native American tribes used heat therapy in their natural remedies to treat fevers and heal pain and arthritis’s and still use sweat lodges as a healing and cleansing practice to remedy both body and mind. The Japanese and Chinese have used the remedy of soaking in hot springs or Onsen as they are known in Japan since the early 1600’s up until and still to this day to cure all sorts of aliments from stiff, sore muscles and joints and arthritis to respiratory conditions and digestive issues. While the city of Bath in the UK was built in in the 5th century on three natural hot springs by the Dobunni, a Celtic tribe in the Iron Age who believed the hot springs possessed healing powers. Many years later in the 1800’s they were renovated into limestone Roman baths, a place to bathe and socialize. The mineral rich water rises with geotheramal energy at a temperature of between 69 to 96 degrees Celsius / 156 to 204 degrees Fahrenheit, giving a sauna atmosphere. To this day spas like it - natural or man-made are utilised to ease stiff muscles, improve circulation, relieve stress and aid in promoting better sleep.
There are health risks to extreme cold and extreme heat therapies and before trying many of these therapies it’s recommended that you know you medical history and take the necessary precautions.
Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel’s active menthol ingredient helps mimics a localized version of hot/cold therapy over the area of the body being worked on, depending on how much pressure is exerted to the skin while it is being applied.
Menthol comes from peppermint and other mint oils and has been used for centuries in traditional medicines for ailments ranging from stomach ailments to hair growth to fresh breath. The reason menthol is so effective is that it acts as a strong counterirritant, analgesic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Used topically it cools and warms the skin reducing the pain sensation by stimulating the thermoreceptors causing a vasoconstriction by effecting the calcium channels in the cell membranes of the body which inturn numb the skin and vasodilation widening blood vessels to increase blood flow in the localized area where it is used.
It’s not too common but some people are allergic to menthol when it is used in large doses and this will usually show up on the skin as a rash, hives, blisters or itching a few hours after application. Rinsing the skin and applying a cold compress or calamine lotion usually help to stop irritation, but if the allergic reaction is severe then a antihistamine or stronger creams and medicine can be prescribed by a doctor.
The other two main ingredients that allow Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel to work so effectively are the combination or Wintergreen and Arnica oil. We have looked a t their benefits in other blogs but here again are the main reasons we add Wintergreen and Arnica oils to so many of our topical analgesic products.
Wintergreen oil is an essential oil from the wintergreen plant and is mainly an anti-inflammatory oil thanks to the methyl salicylate it contains and is a topical pain relieving oil to aching muscle and joints. It is antibacterial aiding in alleviating colds, headaches, skin conditions and is looked at as a natural aspirin, meaning those on blood thinning medication have to be cautious.
Arnica oil is an essential oil from the arnica montana flower and it stimulates blood supply to the muscles, helping to relieve pain and stiffness. Helps to heal micro fibre tears in muscles. Best in treating bruises, swelling and sprains. It’s an anti-inflammatory oil. Relieves itching and swelling of insect bites and has antibacterial properties.
Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel is one of my favourite multitasking products, used on my athletes before and after sessions, as well as on any client who comes to me to relieve muscle spasms, or even on myself when it comes to general aches and pains from an active day or a stationary day with a few too many hours sitting infront of a computer. Its soothing, cooling menthol effect act as pain reliever and its anti-inflammatory properties are preferred by some rugby players coming back onto the training field after a muscle strain.
I would do a 5 minute pre training warm up rub with medium pressure on the affected area with the Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel before they take the training field. This product causes more cooling sensation on the skin as opposed to a heating sensation, but because of the menthol in the product the circulation is still increased to help loosen up the muscle during activity, while still working on reducing inflammation in the targeted area.
The way I use Wintergreens Menthol Hot Gel mostly at work though, is once I have finished doing massage on an athlete, I apply the gel lightly over the muscles allowing the menthol, wintergreen and arnica oil to penetrate the skin and muscles which are warm from the massage already, the consistency of the gel and its cooling effect is very refreshing and helps relieve pain and stiffness in the muscles, the cooling sensation is long lasting on the skin aswell which is very pleasant and helpful in very warm conditions. I have had many rugby players say they love the immediate rejuvenating sensation of the Wintergreen Menthol Hot Gel after a massage as well as the refreshing smell.
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