Q. My mother-in-law always used to swear by Vicks on the bottom of the feet for a cough. I thought that was ludicrous.
Mom might have been right after all. I have an upper respiratory virus and haven’t slept for two nights because of coughing. All day today, I couldn’t speak more than two or three words at a time without coughing. My doctor said to try some Mucinex and let the virus run its course. Mucinex hasn’t worked for me in the past so I thought of my mother-in-law’s remedy.
I rubbed the bottoms of my feet with Vicks and put on some clean white cotton athletic socks. Within minutes, literally, I could get out a full sentence. I still have an occasional cough this evening, but it is 95 percent better. I hope this will give my sore ribs a rest for a few hours.
A. We have no scientific explanation for why rubbing Vicks on the soles of the feet would calm a cough. Nonetheless, we have heard stories similar to yours from many other readers. You can learn more about Unique Uses for Vicks in our Guide or discover other ways to control a cough in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies (both online at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Research at Penn State has shown that for children’s nighttime coughs, honey works better than cough syrup, without side effects. Adults report benefit from sipping thyme tea. It may be that the menthol and thymol in Vicks VapoRub get into the circulation to help ease a cough like yours.