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Bengay logo.png
Product typeAnalgesic heat rub
OwnerJohnson & Johnson
Produced byJohnson & Johnson
CountryDeveloped in France by Dr. Jules Bengué
Introduced1898; 124 years ago (1898) (as Ben-Gay)
MarketsOver-the-counter drug
Previous ownersPfizer

Bengay, spelled Ben-Gay before 1995, is a topical analgesic heat rub for temporary relief from muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis, bruises, simple backaches, overuse, sprains and strains.[1]


Bengay was developed in France by Dr. Jules Bengué (French pronunciation: ​[ʒyl bɛ̃ɡe]) and brought to America in 1898. The name Bengué was Anglicized and commercialized to Ben-Gay (later Bengay). It was originally produced by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson. The product is advised to be used topically for adults and children 12 years of age and older, and no more than 3 to 4 times daily.[2] The manufacturer recommends storing it between 20 and 25 °C (68 and 77 °F).[2]

According to a study published by MIT Technology Review, the exact mechanism of its efficacy is not known. However, evidence indicates that it activates a neuron named TRPM8, which appears to keep minor pain signals in the brain from communicating with the spine.[3]


Bengay and similar products, such as Flexall, Mentholatum, Capzasin and Icy Hot, variously contain menthol, methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen), and capsaicin as active ingredients and have a potential to cause first-to-third-degree chemical burns.[4][5] Some people have been hospitalized after receiving such burns.[4]

Methyl salicylate can also be toxic when excessively large doses many multiples of the recommended amount are administered,[6][7] a rarity.[7]

In October 2007 in the United States, a teenage athlete overdosed and died from overexposure to methyl salicylate, [6][7]having "more than six times the safe amount of the ingredient in her body."[6]

Active ingredients[edit]

Active ingredients vary by product version, including:

  • Bengay: Original – 18.3% methyl salicylate and 16% menthol.[8]
  • Bengay: Muscle Pain/Ultra Strength – 30% methyl salicylate, 10% menthol, and 4% camphor.[8]
  • Bengay: Ice Extra Strength – 10% menthol.
  • Bengay: Muscle Pain/No Odor – 15% triethanolamine salicylate.
  • Bengay: Arthritis Extra Strength – 30% methyl salicylate and 8% menthol.[8]

Other uses[edit]

Bengay can be used to remove chewing gum from clothing, as the methyl salicylate serves to loosen and diffuse the gum base.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Self-medicate or see a doctor? A guide for 5 common ailments". AsiaOne. April 1, 2015. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Bengay official website".
  3. ^ "The Mystery of BenGay". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2022-04-26.
  4. ^ a b "Bengay may cause chemical burns". WSTM-TV. September 13, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  5. ^ "Bengay, Icy Hot can cause serious burns: FDA". Chatham Daily News. September 13, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Nazario, Brunilda (October 2007). "Bumpy Road". Women's Health. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Mundell, E.J. (June 15, 2007). "Bengay Death Highlights OTC Dangers". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Pray, W.S. (2006). Nonprescription Product Therapeutics. Nonprescription Product Therapeutics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-7817-3498-1. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  9. ^ Janeway, Kimberly (June 24, 2016). "How to Remove Stains Like Mustard, Red Wine, and Ink". Consumer Reports. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  10. ^ "How to get rid of chewing gum from clothes". Deccan Chronicle. June 28, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]