Q. When I was a kid in the early 1960s, if I had a sore throat Mom would put a glob of Vicks VapoRub on the back of my tongue and tell me to swallow it.

I understand now that it’s for external use only. Was this dangerous? Has the formula changed since then? I honestly can’t remember if it helped get rid of the sore throat, but I do remember the horrible taste.

A. We’re not aware of any change in the Vicks VapoRub formula. It contains camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, thymol and turpentine oil along with petrolatum (petroleum jelly). Camphor is somewhat toxic when ingested, which is why the makers of Vicks warn that it is for external use only.

Some visitors recall a home-made remedy for sore throats and coughs. While some found onion syrup delicious, others hated it. Others have had success with thyme tea, with or without star anise. Turmeric in warm milk is another favorite, and sage tea has some enthusiasts. Remember that a sore throat that lasts or is accompanied by a high fever deserves medical attention. 

You can learn more about home remedies for sore throats and other problems through our book, The Peoples Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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