Ringmaster Rubbing Oil Has Staying Power in the Black Community  

Ringmaster Rubbing Oil is operated by family members of the late Frank B. Sewell. Doug Sewell, the current chairman and son of founder Frank Sewell, and Nicole Weldon, the current president and granddaughter of Frank B. Sewell.  


The late longtime businessman Frank B. Sewell’s fabled legacy continues to live on through his family and the community he so faithfully served.  

With the advent of his famous product, Ringmaster Rubbing Oil in 1950, Sewell’s topical liquid has a long history serving the likes of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Eleanor Roosevelt, with an origin story involving the well-known Black inventor George Washington Carver, more on that later.  

Sewell’s product has helped to soothe generations by relieving customers’ aches, pains, arthritis and more with the same formula since its creation.  

Ringmaster is a medicated peanut oil, ”super rub” a careful blend of wintergreen and peanut oil. The product is aged for maximum penetration to treat arthritis, stiffness, joint friction, tight, sore muscles and restricted range of movement. The product is used as a lubricating rub that penetrates, lubricates and medicates.   

The multi-purpose oil can be used with other mediums such as water, gels, creams, petroleum jelly and moist compresses and sells in varying sizes ranging from 2oz. to 8oz. bottles.  

Sewell, a child of the Great Depression, set a goal in life to help the downtrodden, the poor and the disaffected people of our country.  

After having a detailed vision of Carver instructing him on how to make Ringmaster, he created the product, which he massaged, prayed with, evangelized and counseled thousands of people who needed his medicine and special brand of insightful wisdom.   

“Dr. Carver came to him and showed him how to mix the product. And that became the next thing that encouraged him to make it,” Sewell’s son, Doug B. Sewell, president and CEO of Painexx, a Detroit-based business with 60 years of sales of the principal product Ringmaster Rubbing Oil.  

“The results of his research are a collection of miracle stories of unique recoveries that provide the foundation and motivation to continue the family’s mission of helping those in pain. This short story is a snapshot of the lifework of Frank Sewell, in an effort to memorialize his memory and encourage others to join his mission,” according to the company website. “It is our hope that others will join our movement to spread the word of how this unique product, Ringmaster Rubbing Oil, has helped to improve the lives of thousands of people.”  

Doug Sewell holds Ringmaster Rubbing Oil. Photo by Sherri Kolade 

Ever diligent, Doug Sewell, is doing just that. He told the Michigan Chronicle while inside his Southfield office on Wednesday, February 28, that his father created a legendary product, which he is proud to continue to build on.  

“We’ve been making it for like 73 years,” Sewell said of the generations that are continuing in the tradition including his siblings, children and other family members. “Everybody has their job. You know, but it’s all been a labor of love, basically.”   

Now, the product is in dozens of CVS stores locally and they have expanded distribution so it will be in close to 200 stores soon.  

He said the journey, though not easy, has always been worth it.  

“We’re in a bunch of different obstacles and challenges. So, we’re in like 22 of the Meijer stores. Now we’ve been on Amazon for the last probably five years and we have about 500 reviews,” he said, adding that the rubbing oil is also in numerous beauty supply stores. “Because hairstylists develop carpal tunnel from doing hair.”  

Sewell, who keeps a bottle for use next to his bed, adds every time he becomes discouraged due to the sometimes obstacle-laden path, he runs into a customer who reminds him of why he is doing this.  

“I just run into somebody, and they’ll tell me a story,” he said.   

Sewell doesn’t have to look far either to find inspiration. His office contains historical jewels from the past success stories touting the product’s use. From briefcases filled with cassette tapes holding interviews with local media to customers sharing how using the product made them feel better among other anecdotes.  

Sewell, a prudent record keeper, also has magazine, journal and newspaper filings and clippings of when he and his father were featured in or writing about the product and other health findings.  

Not one to shy away from positive reviews, Sewell is also keen in keeping with the times and has enthusiastically gone about the community and received positive feedback on social media, with customers sharing how they love the product and how the generations before them in their family have used the product, too.  

Keeping it in the family is the Sewell’s standby, too.  

Inside the office building, a stone’s throw away, Doug Sewell ventured into one of the manufacturing rooms used to stir the oil. A large black steel barrel holds the famous oil. The small room smelled of about 100,000 opened packs of minty fresh gum as the primary ingredient, wintergreen, lingered in the air.   

Wintergreen is a North American plant, which is extracted into strong oil containing methyl salicylate, used medicinally and as a flavoring.  

Sewell, who said he was nose blind to the heavy aroma stirred his family’s product confidently. Just across the room in a cage held some of the varying sizes of the product.   

“We mix the master product and record as needed as orders come in,” Sewell said.   

Before being shipped off into different locations (also available online, at Walgreens, Whole Foods and elsewhere, the oil is prayed over by his sister to encourage healing in the users.  

“My sister will come and pray over it, ‘God bless this product,’” Sewell, once a skeptic and now a believer of the power of prayer, said. “It took me a long time before I really began to believe that you could affect the molecules in liquid through prayer.”  

Customer Clarence Adams posted on Facebook that the product gives him the “best relief” from muscular, ligament and deep tissue pain.  

“It’s concentrated, so a dab will do,” he said. “Also good for soaking – a cap is all you need in the bath.”  

Dr. Herman Glass II, a chiropractor in Detroit, told the Michigan Chronicle that he introduced the product over 40 years ago to the American Black Chiropractors Association, to help make the product grow in his network.  

“I was one of the few doctors using it with patients back then,” he said, adding that as an avid golfer and skier, he uses it today, too. “Being a small business with… Ringmaster… and being a minority-owned and inventor …it was important for me … to promote something that has a profile that looks like me.”  

Ringmaster Rubbing Oil is available at local CVS and Walgreen locations on the pharmacy counter, Whole Foods, ACO Hardware, Detroit Medical Center and St. John’s Health Systems outpatient pharmacies, Sav-On Drugs, Binson’s Home Healthcare, independent pharmacies, retailers, beauty supply stores, medical supply companies, physician offices and therapy clinics. For more information, visit ringmasternow.com 



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