child coughing with the flu or a cold

Q. Our 5 year old caught a cough that was going around her class. She was miserable with a non-productive cough every half-minute or so. It was torture.

Finally, at midnight, after trying chamomile tea and steaming in the shower, we tried rubbing the soles of her feet with a generic brand similar to Vicks VapoRub. It worked like turning off a spigot.

Awesome remedy! Dark chocolate also helps a cough, but it was so late at night we didn’t want to stimulate her little system with theobromine. Thank you, People’s Pharmacy!

A. Thanks for sharing your story. It seems unorthodox, but other parents also report that Vicks on the soles of the feet helps ease a child’s cough.

We have hundreds of other intriguing uses for common household products in our brand new book from National Geographic, The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies. It is available in libraries, bookstores and online.

Preliminary research suggests the theobromine in dark chocolate may indeed ease a cough (FASEB Journal, Feb. 1, 2005). You were right to be cautious, though, because some people are susceptible to stimulation from theobromine.

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  1. Dushyant M.

    Very useful and awesome remedy… My parents called me insane when I tried this method. But it really proved them wrong and made me recover from that tough and irritating cough disease..
    Thank you very very much… And yeah also try to find the Science behind it….

  2. ck

    My husband, after recovering from pneumonia, had a nonstop dry cough for six days in a row. Every prescriptive medication brought no relief, and we tried many. Desperate for sleep, he agreed to try the Vick’s Vapor Rub on the soles of his feet. It worked immediately and he had the first night of much needed sleep. The next night he coughed for a few hours until he agreed to try it again and he fell asleep after applying the rub to the soles of both feet.
    Not sure of the exact mechanism that causes this to work, but it does work. Since it can’t harm, please consider this. It honestly was a God Send for us. Thank you People’s Pharmacy!

  3. Tracy

    Will the Vick’s & socks work while awake & walking around, or is it just for nighttime/sleeping?

  4. Athan

    Cool beverages can be comforting and it is vital to keep you hydrated. But don’t take soda or orange juice. These can harm a throat that is swollen from coughing.

  5. M.B.L.

    Does this remedy work for adults also, or just children?

  6. rb

    Vicks is pretty amazing stuff. I am over eighty years old and remember my mother slathering vicks on my sister and I when we had a cold. I recently discovered something a little unique. I have had toenail fungus in my big toenails for several years. One of them became a little ingrown and I decided to soften it so I could lift the edge.
    I coated the nail with Vicks and put a bandaid on it for about a month and finally lifted the edge. After about a week, I started to trim the nail. The entire nail lifted off down to the uninfected part and is now growing back with a nice pink color.

  7. Debby D. K.

    Question: Does the application of Vick’s Vapor Rub on soles of feet quell a cough in adults as well as with children?

  8. GB

    Vicks also works wonders for adults with a nagging cough. I recently had a sinus infection that moved into my chest. The days weren’t so bad but at night I would cough so much I couldn’t sleep and nothing seemed to help. Finally I remembered the Vicks VapoRub and rubbed a generous amount on the bottoms of both feet. The relief was immediate! The coughing stopped and I slept through the night. For the next few nights I repeated the process and not only did it stop the coughing, but the congestion disappeared as well.

  9. S.B.O.

    I too have used Vicks Vaporub on my 12 yr old granddaughter when she had a bad cough. I “slathered” it on the bottom of her feet, put a pair of socks on her and off to bed she went and slept thru the night with no coughing.

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