A Patch of Relief From Muscle Pain

It’s recently imported from Japan, but it’s not a car or a camera. It’s a Band-Aid-size medicated plaster called Salonpas that you apply to the skin to relieve muscle pain or aching joints--a product that representatives of Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co. say is “a household word in Japan.”

The medicated plasters, which smell something like horse liniment, are easy to use--you simply peel one off of the cellophane backing and apply it to your skin. About 3 inches long and an inch wide, the small plasters come in boxes of 20 or 40 sheets. (There are two patches on one piece of cellophane.)

For maximum effectiveness, Hisamitsu spokesmen recommend Salonpas be applied to the skin after a bath or shower and before sleeping. You also can hold one over a lamp for a few seconds and the heat seems to speed up Salonpas’ penetration into the skin.

The company, which has a Southern California office, Hisamitsu America Inc., in Torrance, lists among the active ingredients methyl salicylate, menthol and camphor. The 20-patch box sells for about $1.50, the 40-patch size for around $2.75. The company also manufacturers an 8x10 patch (which sells for about 95 cents per plaster), an elastic one to place on knees or elbows and an analgesic spray.


Among the area drug and chain stores that carry Salonpas are Horton & Converse, Drug Emporium, TG&Y;, J.J. Newberry, Longs Drug Stores and California Pharmacy in Pasadena.

A Pack of Heat

Speaking of heat, the Re-Heater, a non-electric, reusable portable heat pack has a variety of uses--indoor or out.

Sports fans can keep warm at football games, or while camping, fishing, skiing, hiking, sailing, hunting, etc. The flexible heat pouch, which contains a nontoxic fluid that can heat to 130 degrees in about 10 seconds, is activated by pushing a button on the pack. Its makers say this movable heat source will maintain its warmth for 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the size of the pack.


Manufactured by Re-Heater Inc. of Lomita, the heat packs were tested and approved by the North American Hunting Club Inc., and were used by Los Alamitos long distance swimmer Lynne Cox recently to bring her body temperature back to normal after she swam the Bering Strait to Soviet Union.

Also for Soreness

Re-Heater products also can be used to treat neck, back and other muscle-related injuries or soreness. The packs are available in four sizes: a 3x6-inch pocket size; 5x9-inch jacket-warmer size; 8x8-inch heating pad size and 6x18-inch triple section neck and shoulder pack.

To reuse Re-Heater, you must place it in a cloth or on a wire rack in a pan--to keep it from coming in direct contact with the pan. Fill the container with water and boil the heat pouch for at least 20 minutes. Do not put it in a microwave.

Re-Heater packs range in price from $9.95 to $24.95. For information write Re-Heater, 26302 S. Western Ave., Lomita 90717, or call (213) 534-8668. To phone toll-free from within California dial (800) 331-7060; toll-free from outside California, (800) 331-7066.

Catch a Ceiling Star

Barry Sander, an Oregon research scientist and amateur astronomer, figured out how to look at the stars without leaving his house by inventing Night Sky Star Stencil, which can transform your ceiling into a replica of the night sky. It comes in winter or summer sky versions.

The kit, which costs about $25 for an 8-foot stencil, $30 for the 12-foot version, includes a series of precision-cut stencils that you unroll and affix to a ceiling of your home with adhesive, which is included. You then dab Night Sky’s special luminous paint in the holes, remove the stencil and turn off the lights. You should see 400 stars in their proper places, transforming your room into a home planetarium. The kit also includes a map for identifying the constellations.


The paint glows in the dark for about an hour, according to Sander, and is undetectable in normal light. The stencil works on smooth and textured ceilings. The 8-foot size, Sander says, takes about an hour to put up; the 12-foot, two hours.

For more information write Ursa Major, P.O. Box 3368, Ashland, Ore. 97520, or call (800) 999-3433 to order. Night Sky is also available at more than 800 retailers and 75 museums nationwide, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum.

Among Los Angeles outlets offering Night Sky are the California Museum of Science and Industry’s gift center, Mr. G’s for Kids, Pony Toy Go-Round, George’s General Store, Toy Palace, Joy & Toys, Psychedelic Lighting, Thomas Bros. Maps, Vedanta Press and Bookshop, and Hippocampus General Store.