Frozen Peas vs. Gel-Packs

In the absence of a purpose-made ice-pack or gel-pack, people sometimes grab a packet of frozen peas to cool-down an injury. But just how efficient is a pack of peas? Various research projects have undertaken experiments to find out. In 2005, for example, investigators from the Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, devised a set of experiments to test the efficacy of frozen peas as compared to an ice-pack, a gel-pack, or a mixture of water and alcohol. The gel-pack and the peas did have some effect, but the ice-pack and the alcohol/water mixture were significantly more efficient. Then, two years later in 2007, another team, from the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK, undertook a further investigation – this time featuring crushed ice, a gel-pack, frozen peas and ice-water immersion. Again, the gel-pack and the frozen peas were found to be less than ideal. But (readers may be wondering) given access to only a gel-pack or a packet of frozen peas – which is best? The answer is to be found in a study performed before the two outlined above. In 2002, investigators at the Physiotherapy Department, Coventry University, Coventry, UK, had found that peas performed significantly better than professionally produced gel-packs.

“Application of frozen peas produced mean skin temperatures adequate to induce localized skin analgesia, to reduce nerve conduction velocity, and to reduce metabolic enzyme activity to clinically relevant levels. Flexible frozen gel packs did not cool skin sufficiently to achieve these levels.”


(The late) Orson Welles had trouble with frozen peas . . .