All About Biofreeze

What is it, how does it work, and what is the difference in professional and regular grades?

Biofreeze is one of our most popular products available in our clinic. Biofreeze is a cooling, pain relieving gel; its active ingredient is menthol, which provides the cooling sensation, but it is full of other helpful ingredients as well. Some of the ingredients include aloe leaf extract, arnica montana, lemon balm, and Boswellia. These ingredients have been used in traditional and herbal medicine for years. They provide calming, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects.

The menthol affects the pain-gate, blocking the pain signals by flooding your brain with the cooling signals instead. Think of it this way, there is a narrow one lane road in your nervous system that leads to the place where you register that there is pain in your body. When we are injured all the pain signals rush up the one lane road and reach your nervous system uninhibited. When we use something like Biofreeze the thermoreceptors pick up a signal from the coolness and compete with pain receptors because they also travel up that same one lane road. Since the thermoreceptors compete with the pain receptors, the pain receptors become inhibited causing a reduction in pain. Most of us already do this on some level, think about if you’re in the middle of hanging a picture frame. You’re hammering a nail into the wall when you miscalculate and hit your thumb with the hammer instead of the nail—OUCH! Instantly pain receptors travel up to the brain signaling “Owwww,” and without even thinking you may start shaking your hand or you may even put your thumb into your mouth to calm it down. Both things send different receptors to your brain that compete with the pain receptors. Another example would be if you fall and hit your knee. You might stand up and start rubbing the part that hurts, this is creating new signals for your brain which inhibit the pain receptors. Isn’t the body so fascinating? This is called the pain-gate theory and I could go on about A fibers and C fibers and the substantia gelatinosa, but I’ll spare you the details. The pain gate theory is primarily how Biofreeze works, along with the other herbal calming agents.

Biofreeze has traditionally been a provider-exclusive product, meaning only medical providers can purchase Biofreeze. However, recently I noticed Biofreeze popping up on the shelves of places like Target and CVS. One thing I noticed about the bottles that are available over the counter was that they don’t say, “Professional” like the ones we provide do. I also noticed that on the bottles available in our clinic it reads, “longer lasting than regular Biofreeze.” It got me thinking, what is the difference between the “professional” grade and the regular over the counter grade? This is where my research began…

What I found for the gel/tube, the roll on, and the spray was that the regular grade had less product volume than the professional grade, most of the time by a full ounce. I also found that the regular grade had less of the active ingredient, menthol, which we already established is how Biofreeze primarily works. Finally, the most disappointing finding was that the regular grade had synthetic dyes in it where the professional grade does not. The regular grade gel/tube has Yellow 1 and the Roll on has Yellow 5. And the regular grade, depending on where you shop, is about the same price as the professional grade!

See the chart below for more information…

I outlined the differences found in the gel/tube below:

Difference Professional Tube Regular Tube
Cost $14.83 $11.99-$14.99
Ounces 4 oz 3 oz
% of active ingredient 5% menthol 4% menthol
Dyes or synthetics None Yellow 1
Available OTC No Yes


For the month of April, we are offering a special, Biofreeze is 10% off.

Special prices for April:

Tube $13.46

Roll on $13.46

Spray $14.19