Rocksauce is a topical pain relief produce marketed by RockTape, a company founded by Greg van den Dries after he had come to believe in the therapeutic benefit of kinesiology tape, yet found a lack of purchasing options as a non-"certified" provider.
Rocksauce is manufactured by Shine & Pretty Corp, a manufacturer of skin care and sun care products on the west coast.
There are two formulas: Rocksauce Fire and Rocksauce Ice. The Fire produce page claims to be "the strongest topical muscle and joint relief you can buy" - a claim I'll debunk later.
Rocksauce ICE has the following active ingredients:
Speaking of menthol, this organic compound is made synthetically or obtained from mint oils.
Menthol stimulates the transient receptor potential channel melastatin 8 (TRPM8). This receptor is responsible for the well-known cooling sensation it provokes when inhaled, eaten, or applied to the skin.
Menthol also has weak analgesic (pain-killing) effects due to select activation of the κ-opioid receptor. This receptor is a protein that mediates a variety of effects including changing our perception of pain, consciousness, motor control, and mood.
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Rocksauce FIRE has the following active ingredients:
Also called wintergreen oil, this organic ester is naturally produced by many species of plants, particularly wintergreens.
Wintergreen oil is also a salicylate, as evident by its proper name: methyl salicylate. Salicylates are compounds related to aspirin. By using them topically, it may help a patient avoid most of the negative side effects of taking aspirin or aspirin-related compounds by mouth, such as:
ulcers of the stomach and small intestine,
gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
A study published in 2014 on collagen-induced arthritis in mice concluded, "[methyl salicylate] has great potential to be developed into a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis." But, in its pure form, methyl salicylate is toxic, particularly when taken internally. People should never exceed the directions on the label due to the risk of salicylate toxicity (aspirin poisoning). A single teaspoon (5ml) of methyl salicylate contains 7g of salicylate, which is equivalent to more than twenty-three 300 mg aspirin tablets. It has proven fatal to small children in doses as small as 4ml.
Every rose has its thorn, right? To lighten things up (literally), when mixed with sugar and dried, methyl salicylate is triboluminescent. Which is almost as fun to say, as it is to see. It's an optical phenomenon in which light is generated through the breaking of chemical bonds in a material when they are pulled apart, ripped, scratched, crushed, or rubbed. Next time you've got some Wintergreen Life Savers and a dark room, try it out.
Capsaicin is an active component of plants belonging to the genus Capsicum (chili peppers). It is an irritant for all mammals and produces a sensation of burning when it comes in contact with tissue. Capsaicin warms the skin and temporarily blocks a chemical called substance P, which delivers pain messages to the brain.
A study published in 2011 summarized that topical capsaicin reduces skin hypersensitivity and pain by a process described as "defunctionalization" of nociceptor fibers. A nociceptor is a nerve cell gives a shout out to the spinal cord and brain when it senses potentially damaging stimuli and usually causes the perception of pain. This "defunctionalization" process is rather complex, so I'd suggest reading the study to learn more.
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So going back to the company's claim of Rocksauce Fire being "the strongest topical muscle and joint relief you can buy." It seems to be a solid product, but it is not the "strongest" topical you can buy. The self-reported active ingredient percentages are as follows:
20% Methyl Salicylate And here's a sampling of other topicals on the market using the same ingredients at higher concentrations:
40% Methyl Salicylate
30% Methyl Salicylate
Dragon Cream 10% Menthol
30% Methyl Salicylate
30% Methyl Salicylate
ROCKSAUCE SIDE EFFECTS
There are no known major side effects for using Rocksauce topically (on the skin, external use only) as directed. Although one should seek medical attention if severe allergic reaction occurs. Not a good idea to use on broken or damaged skin, and be sure to keep it clear of the eyes - ouch.
PRECAUTIONS & WARNINGS:
Methyl Salicylate (wintergreen oil) might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin or other salicylate compounds, or have asthma or nasal polyps. Use wintergreen with caution if you have one of these conditions.
Wintergreen oil can be poisonous for children. Taking 4-10 mL of wintergreen oil by mouth can be deadly. So keep away from the kiddos and do not use wintergreen oil on the skin of children less than 2 years old.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, wintergreen is safe in amounts found in food, but there's inconclusive evidence to know if it's safe in the larger amounts internally or topically. Either clear usage by your doctor, or select a topical gel that does not include wintergreen oil (methyl salicylate) in the ingredients label on the back of the box. Also clear the usage of capsaicin by the doc.
I found an established body of research that may suggest the use of menthol, capsaicin, and wintergreen oil for mild pain relief. Given the very low risk and very limited side effects, it would seem worth a try for individuals seeking a complementary and/or off-the-shelf product for pain relief.