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Headaches eh. Who needs 'em? Well, apart from the major pharmaceutical companies probably not too many folks relish the thought of a pounding headache that reverberates through your skull. Or the splitting, searing type that lances behind your eyes every now and again. And probably not the type that feels like the top of your head is about to split asunder.
No - it's got to be fair to say that headaches are an unwelcome phenomenon so anything that helps get rid must surely be a good thing?
As luck would have it, LegendaryMrsDude works in a pharmacy and so knows her stuff when it comes to tablets & medication. She's told me, several times, that different painkillers work differently for different people. Ibuprofen tends to work better for men, paracetomol is easier on the stomach than aspirin etc, etc. But this review is not here to offer you medical advice. Oh no! If you want that you must speak to your doctor or pharmacist!
This review is to inform you of my experience with the alternative remedy to headaches that is 4-Head.
So what is it then? Well, at it's most basic it's a stick. OK so it's not just any old stick and it's certainly not a twig. But a stick it is all the same - a stick of levomenthol.
Levomenthol is an artificial form of menthol and, as you've probably realised by now, 4-head provides you it in the form of a stick. It's only a small stick mind. Weighing in at a paltry 3.6g you could be forgiven for you reaction when you hear that this 3.6g stick will usually cost you about £6 - that's nearly £2 a gramme!
It comes in a silvery looking plastic container with a clear plastic lid. It looks a little like a mis-proportioned lipstick container, shorter and "chubbier" but with the same twist action barrel to advance the contents a bit when it starts to wear down.
So what do you do with it? It's quite simple really - you just rub it on your forehead. The curiously smooth and silky crystalline structure of Levomenthol means that it glides on without too much trouble - no need to wet it or anything. Only apply relatively small amounts mind, and make sure that it doesn't get too close to your eyes.
Once on your skin it starts to do "the business". Levomenthol has a strange cooling effect, I don't know the specific reason for it so I won't speculate as to what's actually happening. Suffice to say that within seconds of applying, it feels like there are 1,000 ice-nymphs blowing a gentle, icy breeze across your forehead. The effect is even better if you're sat in front of a fan or some other source of moving air. The result of this icy sensation is no small amount of tingling, some slight watering of the eyes and a reduction in the fury of your headache.
BUT and this is a big BUT - in my experience it only works for some types of headache. Anything up near the front of your head is fair game and will usually experience a significant reduction in magnitude. The real skull-splitters though - you know the ones where you feel like your head could explode - are hardly touched.
So far I've been more than happy with it, so much so that I carry a stick with me wherever I go - just in case. I also have a stick at home and a stick in the car. Plus I keep a stick in my rucksack for when I go walking. It keeps for ages, apart from the stick in the car. You see it would appear that the melting point of Levomenthol isn't all that high - and the temperature in my glove-box in the height of British summer must have got close to it because the last time I went to use the stick in the car I found it had gone "all horrible" lumpy and congealed rather than smooth and glossy, it had also "slumped" to one side of the container with some leaking out into the glove box itself.
Being menthol, it has the familiar smell of medicated cough sweets only a lot stronger - think of it as "Mr Muscle drain unblocker" for your nasal passages. This is one of the reasons why you need to be careful when applying it. Because it's almost pure (something like 99% pure!), it's fairly effective and if you've got sensitive skin I would recommend that you're careful when first trying it as it could lead to some sensitization.
In fact I will share with you a brief anecdote in that regard. You already know that I carry a stick of this wonderful stuff everywhere I go well around this time last year (November 2004) I was on a trip to the US but had been suffering from a sinus infection for the few days previously. Sinus infections and flying don't usually go well together and this time was no exception. A combination of vodka, 4head and just about anything else I could find didn't help me get rid of the pain during the flight and my sinuses, outraged at the treatment thay had just received, refused to settle down once I had landed. So on arrival at the hotel I pondered briefly what to do. It didn't take long before inspiration struck! My grandmother used to use menthol crystals in hot water to clear her cold - usually in a bowl with a towel over her head.
I didn't have a bowl and the plug in the wash basin didn't work too well… but the bath was fine and I had my 4head! 5 minutes later and I had a bath full of hot water into which I proceeded to grate bits of my 4head stick. Now bear in mind that the stick is small in the first place and that I probably grated only a small fraction of it. And then believe me when I said that the room was absolutely filled with the scent of menthol in a matter of seconds. I should have taken the hint at the time and just sat there in the bathroom. But I didn't. I'll blame sinus-induced temporary insanity but I ended up getting in to the bath. As I did so, I couldn't help but notice the pretty patterns on the water that the levomenthol shavings were making - rather like the rainbow effects that petrol makes on a wet street. The water was warm, my eyes were watering but my sinuses were in full retreat. The pain was ebbing away fast so I sat there and nearly fell asleep.
After about 30 minutes of half-sleep I got out of the bath and that was when it hit me. 1,000,000 ice nymphs blowing an icy gale across my entire body, stabbing me with 1,000,000 tiny icicles and then a light dusting in really fine snow. My skin was red and sore and every time I moved the slightest breeze caused the most incredible sensation.
I won't be doing that again in a hurry. Or maybe I will. Just for the sake of research you understand.
But enough of my ramblings… is 4head any good?
As a reliever of mild to moderate headaches I think it's great. As a part of a combined effort for tougher headaches it's also good. There are very few side-effects if used properly and the sensation is actually quite pleasant. It doesn't use any drugs so it scores points there too. It's compact and easily transported so you can take it anywhere and there's hardly any chance of interactions with other medicines (but don't take my word for it!).
Five well-deserved stars it is then for the 3.6g stick costing £6 because even though it only weight 3.6g, it lasts for ages. Each appliaction is tiny and, unless you have multiple daily headaches you should find a single stick lasts for months.
While it's not designed to be used as a nasal decongestant, it does work but I would advise against it - particularly if you want to sit in the bath at the same time!!!
I use athis and find it excellent, wouldn't bathe in it though! Painful pleasure! Jo x
gollum3273 08.01.2006 23:25
Another fantastic review, what else would you need to know, also thanks for the tip to use this with my kool n soothe, tried it today, works a treat. Your reviews just get better and better, a joy to read. sam x
Tadders 09.12.2005 17:04
A VH review, with lots of info and also very entertaining! I agree with you that this stuff only really works where you apply it at the front of the head. As my headaches always seem to occur at the back of the head, I am struggling with this unless I coat my hair in the stuff! x