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MuscleCare hones identity in pain relief.

TORONTO -- MuscleCare, a division of Active and Innovative Inc., founded by chiropractor Chris Oswald in 1998, was structured to address the weaknesses in the stretching; ergonomic; all-natural topical pain relief; and orthotics industries.

Each of these categories had products routinely prescribed by physical medicine doctors, including Oswald. The only problem was that none of them had been supported by independent, random, double-blind studies to support their claims. This led Oswald to research and write Stretching for Fitness, Health and Performance, which was published in 1998. It soon became a best-seller, and it was then released in Spanish and Russian.

Oswald then took on the challenge of creating a toxin-free topical analgesic foam that would be made in North America, have a consistent density or comfort level, and last much longer than the industry standard accepting the 15% to 55% loss of height in foam used in such products as pillows, back supports, ergonomic chairs and couches.

His ergo-foam did just that. It not only lasted longer, it lost only 1% to 1.3 % of height after a year of use. It was scientifically tested and proven to be more comfortable than the national brands yet also produced an 88.7% reduction in the severity of headaches, shoulder pain, dizziness and neck aches. This was launched in 2005 at Shoppers Drug Mart and from there the products grew to adjustable back and seat supports, travel pillows, ergonomic chairs and mattress systems.

This ergonomic business is still thriving and can be co-branded or national branded in stores.

The topical pain relief business was an easy target. Not one company had ever done or requested that a double-blind study be done to prove its claims. Oswald developed MuscleCare (also excellent for joint and arthritic conditions), tested it in his patient base of 9,000 people with great success and then took the double-blind idea to a prominent research group. In 2009 the results were in, and MuscleCare outperformed all of the competition. In 2012 the study was published in Chiropractic and Manual Therapies.

MuscleCare has grown very quickly at Rexall, The Shopping Channel, H-E-B and Duane Reade and is now launching in one of the world's largest chains later this summer as it starts its U.S. debut.

The key difference in Active and Innovative's MuscleCare philosophy is that all aspects from manufacturing to retailing adhere to certain standards, and the product remains all-natural to its core.

"Certain things come to mind when I hear the phrase 'all natural' and now that I have developed my own formula, created a brand and taken it to market, I have learned a number of things that I would like to share with the retailer/buyer community that are not well publicized," Oswald says.

For example, ingredients, manufacturing and effectiveness claims (clinical instead of scientifically tested) need to be openly discussed, he says. "Many companies call their products all-natural, yet 90% of the topical pain products on the shelves today have parabens that were once used as emulsifiers to prolong the shelf life but have recently been shown to be carcinogens that bio-accumulate in human tissue and are also endocrine altering," he adds. "In fact, these methyl and propyl parabens have been banned in the European Union, but North America has not followed suit. Why?"

MuscleCare uses ingredients that the Food and Drug Administration deems safe and effective and have been shown in international literature searches to be effective in other double-blind studies that are published in high-level scientific journals.

"Much like parabens, dyes, coloring agents and the like are plentiful in many brands of topicals," Oswald notes. "They, too, are dangerous and harmful. Why are they still allowed? Also, products that are natural don't have waxes and or petroleum in their base. These are binders and will restrict absorption of many good ingredients and are not healthy."

With all the recalls in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical world, it doesn't take much to learn how many North American labs have the appropriate licenses to make over-the-counter products or how many do not have their licenses. Of the 2,500 labs approximately 65 have the proper license and of those 65, approximately 19 have all-natural and organic licenses, according to Oswald. "I encourage buyers to do their due diligence when stocking product. Recently there were a few scientific studies that showed capsaicin was associated with skin cancer. Why are products with this ingredient still being sold in the U.S. and Canada?"

Anyone can make a claim that a product is clinically tested, he adds, explaining that all one has to do is test a product on a 'friend' in a lab or doctor's office."

The real way to test product is to send it to a research group and ask that an independent, random, double-blind clinical comparative study be conducted on a large enough sample size to lend credibility. Generally, a sample size is dictated by the number of products being tested. In MuscleCare's double-blind study the author compared five brands and had one placebo, and the sample size was 120 subjects.

Once a study is complete and meets certain professional standards, it can be submitted to high-level scientific journals for publication. Once published, the product can be said to be scientifically proven to work or to outperform national brands.

MuscleCare, an all-natural topical analgesic, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant, is made in the United States in a premier lab that is one of the 19 that have all the appropriate licenses, and it is scientifically proven to outperform national and professional brands.

Active and Innovative Inc./MuscleCare Products

One St. Clair Ave. East, Suite 10001

Toronto, Ontario M4T 2V7

Key contact: Chris Oswald, CEO

Website: musclecare.net

Phone: (416) 967-3746

Fax: (416) 972-0351

Primary business: HEALTH CARE

Topical analgesics, ergonomics, orthotics
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Title Annotation:Marketplace 2012/Corporate Profiles
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Jun 25, 2012
Words:965
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