Natural Pain Relief Cream: 4 Science-Backed & Plant-Based Remedies

Medically reviewed by Andriana Konstantakopoulos, BS Pharm
May 13th, 2020

Dealing with back pain? You are not alone.

According to Georgetown University, almost one out of five Americans have reported a recent episode of back pain to their doctors, and over 16 million adults struggle with chronic back pain.

And when you are in pain, the last thing you want to do is go through endless options on the Internet only to become more stressed.

Here at Goodpath, all of the products and solutions we offer to our clients have been extensively reviewed by our medical team. 

After you take a short back pain quiz, we analyze your medical history, lifestyle, and the symptoms you're experiencing. Then a personalized plan is created specifically for you and your needs.

Here are some of our favorite natural back pain relief creams, backed by science.

Four Science-Based Topical Treatments for Back Pain:

  • Traumaplant Comfrey Cream

  • Tiger Balm Extra Strength Pain Relieving Ointment

  • Dr. Blue Cool Gel

  • Salonpas Deep Pain Relieving Gel 

Traumaplant Comfrey Cream

Why experts recommend it: 

Several recent trials have shown topical comfrey solutions to be effective “at treating pain, inflammation and swelling of muscles and joints in degenerative arthritis, acute myalgia in the back,” as well as sprains and strains due to sports-related injuries and accidents. 

How it works: 

The main ingredient is comfrey: a medicinal plant used for hundreds of years to ease pain and discomfort. When applied to the skin, comfrey may decrease inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to harmful stimuli like infection or injury. 

How to use: 

Apply liberally several times daily, or as often as desired. Safe for adults and children 4 and up. 

Precautions about comfrey cream:

  • For external use only

  • Do not apply to broken, irritated or very dry skin

  • Avoid contact with eyes

  • If you are an older adult, or if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using comfrey cream

Tiger Balm Pain Relieving Ointment

Why experts recommend it:

Tiger Balm has been around for 100 years and is used by millions worldwide for pain relief. 

How it works:

Tiger Balm contains capsaicin, an ingredient found in chili peppers. Capsaicin works by blocking pain signals, reducing the feeling of discomfort. Studies have shown that capsaicin may help reduce back pain.

How to use:

Massage the cream gently onto the site of pain until fully absorbed. Wash your hands right after applying the product and avoid allowing the product to touch your eyes or face. 

Precautions about Tiger Balm:

  • Do not use products containing capsaicin if you are allergic to chili peppers, or have ever had an allergic reaction to the ingredients.

  • Avoid broken skin when applying capsaicin. 

  • Products containing capsaicin may cause some burning and irritation to the skin. If you have significant discomfort, wash the area immediately and stop using the product.

  • Ask your doctor before using any capsaicin cream if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Dr. Blue Cool Gel

Why experts recommend it: 

Dr. Blue Cool Gel contains menthol, an organic compound useful at combating pain.

How it works:

Menthol is part of a group of substances called counterirritants. Counterirritants can activate nerve endings in the skin in a way that may block pain signals from reaching the brain. When applied to the skin, menthol also creates a cooling effect, which may soothe sore muscles.

Dr. Blue Cool Gel also contains MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane). MSM is a nutrient that is often used to treat muscle and joint pain. MSM may be an effective agent against muscle soreness because of its anti-inflammatory effects.

How to use:

Apply to the affected area three to four times daily. Wash your hands after use.

Precautions about Dr. Cool Blue Gel: 

  • Never apply the product to broken skin

  • Do not bandage or wrap the affected area after applying the product

  • Avoid heat and sunlight when using this product

Salonpas Deep Pain Relieving Gel

Why experts recommend it: 

This product contains three powerful ingredients that all work together to help with pain and discomfort. 

How it works:

Salonpas Deep Relieving Gel contains camphor, menthol, and methyl salicylate. Camphor and menthol are counterirritants. Counterirritants suppress the feeling of pain. Methyl salicylate is a pain relief medication, or an analgesic. Studies show that counterirritants and analgesics are more effective at combating pain when used together in a product.

How to use:

Clean and dry the desired area, then apply a dime-sized amount of gel by massaging it until fully absorbed by the skin (not more than 3-4 times per day). 

Precautions about Salonpas Deep Pain Relieving Gel:

  • If you are allergic to aspirin or salicylates, do not use

  • Avoid contact with eyes or face

  • Do not use with a heating pad

  • Do not use on broken skin

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak with your physician before use

Conclusion

Natural, topical products are an excellent option for people who want to avoid the possible side effects that may come with other medications. 

However, there is still a chance for a local reaction to occur after application. 

That’s why we recommend testing a small patch of skin before using more of the product. Make sure to always read the labels and warnings, and never use topical products on open wounds.

Still not sure which solution is the right fit for you? Take Goodpath's quiz, and we will build you a personalized plan with products approved by our medical team and designed to fit your specific needs.