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Can Vicks VapoRub on Your Soles Calm Your Cough?

Have you ever massaged Vicks VapoRub on your soles at night to get some sleep without coughing? Many readers find this is a helpful remedy.
Can Vicks VapoRub on Your Soles Calm Your Cough?
Spencer, Wisconsin,January,14,2018    Jar of Vicks VapoRub Vicks is a brand of over the counter medications owned by Procter & Gamble

Sometimes a cough can linger on long after the respiratory infection that triggered it has vanished. What do you do for such a cough? We have heard from a surprising number of people that smearing Vicks VapoRub on your soles can quiet even a persistent cough. 

Have You Tried Vicks VapoRub on Your Soles?

Q. I’m skeptical by nature. I was hesitant to try Vicks VapoRub on my feet, but for the past three days I have had the worst cough ever. I’ve been coughing every hour on the hour nonstop. My ribs feel like I’ve been in the ring with Mike Tyson.

Two nights ago I was really struggling to get any rest. My husband suggested putting Vicks on the soles of my feet. I was desperate, so I slathered on the Vicks, put on socks, and within 5-10 minutes the coughing STOPPED. I was able to sleep all night!

In the morning the coughs started up again and lasted all-day-long. A few hours before bedtime I tried a prescription cough medicine. Nothing. If anything, my coughs seemed to be getting worse until I was almost vomiting.

Hubby to the rescue again: “Try the Vicks VapoRub on your soles.”

I did and had the same results. With 5-10 minutes the coughing subsided. I was able to rest comfortably. I wish I knew the science behind this. Whatever it is, it’s worked for me like a charm two nights in a row. I am a believer.

Why Does Putting Vick VapoRub on Your Feet Help a Cough?

A. You and many other readers agree that this remedy works. We have even come up with an explanation for why Vicks and many other remedies work for common ailments. The skin on the soles of the feet (and that on the palms of the hands, too) has receptors that can sense compounds like the camphor and menthol in Vicks VapoRub. The transient receptor potential (TRP) channels that react to these agents can reverse muscle cramps and seem to do something similar for a reflexive cough.

Vicks VapoRub also contains thymol, which has been shown to ease coughs. One mother did a brief “controlled” study on her twins that may interest you. You can read more about the science behind Vicks VapoRub on your soles and other such approaches in our eGuide to Favorite Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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