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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  1. bjewel

    Vicks Vapo Rub was used by my mom and her mom to cure sore throat. If your mom easts it you should take her to the doctor and let them tell he how she is possibly harming herself. We just used it for colds but it was used in the throat which I now question. if your mom has been eating for a while perhaps it is not as harmful as is thought.

  2. Itzel
    Los Angeles

    My mom eats it every week, I tell not to but she keeps doing it. I have warned her not to because it has toxic things, but she still eats it! I think that is an addition already, she said she needs to eat it. I don’t know what to do!! Guys please help me. Tell me what to to please I’m still very young, help me!!!

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