Vicks VapoRub is one of the most popular DIY cures that people use to relieve coughs, congestion, and similar problems associated with cold and flu. The process involves rubbing it onto the feet and chest at night, covering it with a warm towel, and repeating a couple of times. As odd as it seems, most people swear that come morning, the annoying cough is a distant memory. Does it really work?
Not really, experts claim. “The scent of menthol in Vicks VapoRub triggers cold receptors in your nose and upper airway, where you sense temperature and smell,” explains Satya D. Narisety, M.D., a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Rutgers University. “It doesn’t actually open up airways or break up mucous, but the menthol does trick your brain into thinking your airways are opening up and you’re not so congested.”
Turns out this product contains certain questionable ingredients which”can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway.” According to a research published in the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), Vicks VapoRub can affect infants and toddlers` ability to breathe. The camphor in VapoRub can cause seizures or other serious side effects if ingested, so always keep it away from your child’s face, including directly under the nostrils.
“The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway,” Dr. Rubin, the lead author of the study explained. “Infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely.” Petrolatum, one of the ingredients in Vick’s, is also associated with cancer.
“Among the studies linking the petrolatum impurity PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] to breast cancer is a Columbia University study in which researchers found that the breast tissue of women with breast cancer was 2.6 times more likely to contain elevated levels of PAHs bound to DNA (called DNA adducts) than the breast tissue of women without breast cancer (Rundle et al. 2000). Serious questions need to be answered over the safety of petrolatum or petroleum jelly as it is more commonly known.”
In addition to this, it is worth noting that there isn’t any evidence to prove that this product does help with anything. To prevent serious issues and avoid the serious side effects associated with its use, use this homemade chest rub instead. It is made of three all-natural ingredients, which makes it completely safe to use. Eucalyptus oil, the key ingredient in this recipe, contains compounds with potent expectorant, decongestant and antispasmodic properties. Cineole, one of the main compounds, is capable of relieving a cough and fighting off upper respiratory problems.
Note: Eucalyptus isn’t recommended for children under 10 while peppermint isn’t recommended for children under 6.
Homemade Chest Rub
- 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil (alternately for kids under 10 years of age use melaleuca oil.)
- 1 tbsp spoonful extra virgin coconut oil
- 2 drops lemon essential oil
- Mix the eucalyptus essential oil, extra virgin coconut oil, and lemon essential oil together
- Rub onto the chest and upper back