ABOUT DEEP BLUE
Deep Blue Rub is a product of doTERRA, a major essential oils company that was founded in 2008. Their products are sold exclusively through Wellness Advocates. It is a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company, similar Tupperware, Mary Kay, or Pampered Chef.
Also called wintergreen oil, this organic ester is naturally produced by many species of plants, particularly wintergreens. It can also be synthetically produced. Wintergreen oil (along with menthol, eucalyptus oil, camphor, and turpentine oil) is known as a counterirritant. Counterirritants create a feeling of cold or heat that can overpower the painful joint or muscle.
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), and
even serious gastrointestinal bleeding from ulcers.
A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, multicenter study published in 2010 concluded, "A single, 8-hour application of a patch containing methyl salicylate and l-menthol provided significant relief of pain associated with mild to moderate muscle strain in these adult patients compared with patients receiving a placebo patch."
Additionally, a study of collagen-induced arthritis in mice published in 2014 concluded, "[methyl salicylate] has great potential to be developed into a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of RA."
However, in its pure form, methyl salicylate is toxic, especially 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.
This an organic compound is made synthetically or obtained from mint oils. In Deep Blue's case, it is from Peppermint Oil.
Menthol enhances cooling sensations via stimulating the cold-sensitive transient receptor potential channel melastatin 8 (TRPM8). This receptor is is responsible for the well-known cooling sensation it provokes when inhaled, eaten, or applied to the skin.
It also has weak analgesic (pain-killing) effects due to its selective activation of our κ-opioid receptor. This protein mediates many effects including changing our perception of pain, consciousness, motor control, and mood.
This waxy solid has a strong aromatic odor. It is found in the wood of the evergreen tree Cinnamomum camphora; Dryobalanops aromatica; Ocotea usambarensis; and dried rosemary leaves (Rosmarinus officinalis). It is used primarily for its scent. Additionally, it's easily absorbed through the skin and produces a cool-feeling like menthol.
Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family, with a scent similar to camphor. Since 8th century AD, tansy has been used for a variety of medicinal or insecticide purposes. In many North American areas, it is classified as an invasive species and although rare, it can be toxic to humans and animals. Evidence to support the use of tansy for any pharmacological indication is lacking.
Chamomile is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae. Several chemical constituents of chamomile possess anti-inflammatory properties although the exact mechanism is not well understood. There is some preliminary evidence that chamomile possesses anti-anxiety properties and could be used to treat stress and insomnia.
Helichrysum consists of an estimated 600 species in the family Asteraceae. Its flowers and leaves have been traditionally used to treat allergies, colds, cough, skin, liver and gallbladder disorders, inflammation, infections, and sleeplessness. According to the latest research, it has promising pharmacological properties; however, most of its traditionally claimed applications are not yet scientifically proven.
Osmanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant across the world for its fragrant sweet flowers. In preliminary research, the extract of dried flowers showed neuroprotective, free-radical scavenging, antioxidative effects.
Now that I've covered the primary ingredients, I was surprised by the number of non-primary ingredients in Deep Blue, especially because it comes from a company so invested in organic remedies.
Deep Blue is heavily marked as a "natural" brand, yet working through the ingredients lists took several hours of Google-ing to comprehend. This is unlike many other products I've reviewed that average about a dozen or less ingredients.
In most commercial products, we can expect a few stabilizers, preservatives, or the in the case of patch versions, some kind of adhesive.
Below is the list of other (non-active) ingredients in Deep Blue Rub. They are mostly stabilizers, umulsifiers, esters, solvents, moisturizers, suspending agents, preservatives, and/or lubricants.
So, they make the goo slippery and consistent, and/or help bind or keep other compounds from being icky.
I don't think any of these ingredients are "bad," I just found it interesting to note the number and variety contained in a product marketed to folks who are seeking a more natural or organic remedy for pain.
HYDROXYETHYL ACRYLATE/ SODIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYL TAURATE COPOLYMER
ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER
TETRASODIUM GLUTAMATE DIACETATE.
SIDE EFFECTS OF DEEP BLUE
There are no known major side effects for using Deep Blue topically (on the skin, external use only). Although one should seek medical attention if a severe allergic reaction occurs. Not a good idea to use on broken or damaged skin, and be sure 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.
Also, Deep Blue does contain almond oil, so those with a severe nut allergy should likely avoid.
I found an established body of research that may suggest the use of menthol 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 "natural" product for pain relief.
But as I went into detail on above, this product seems to have a rather odd, if not concerning conflict between its suuuper long ingredients list and its "natural" branding.