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Vicks on Soles of Feet Calmed Grandkids’ Coughs

You can ease grandkids' coughs at night by smearing Vicks on the soles of their feet at bedtime. This remedy works for grown-ups, too.
Vicks on Soles of Feet Calmed Grandkids’ Coughs
Cute little boy is coughing on gray background

When young children cough all night, they may not be awake themselves, but their parents and grandparents won’t be able to sleep well. Little ones don’t respond well to conventional cough medicines. What can you do to ease your grandkids’ coughs? One grandparent found an old-fashioned remedy worked surprisingly well.

Vicks on the Soles of the Feet for Grandkids’ Coughs:

Q. I just spent a week taking care of my two grandbabies, two and six years old. The littlest one had a horrible night cough.

After two sleepless nights listening to his coughing spasms, I rubbed his feet with Vicks VapoRub and put his little sockies on. He didn’t cough that night. We repeated this the following night, and he only had one little three-minute episode. He slept through all the coughing.

Then the six year old started coughing at night, so I did the same for him. No coughing. We all slept well thanks to Vicks.

A. We first heard about this home remedy from a nurse. She admitted that it sounded wacko, but it worked for her children. Since then, we have tried it ourselves and found it helpful. Many other readers also report success with this old-fashioned drugstore product.

Why Put Vicks on the Soles of the Feet?

Many people have heard of rubbing Vicks on the chest or back to calm kids’ or grandkids’ coughs. The soles of the feet may seem odd. We suspect, however, that the menthol, eucalyptol, camphor and thymol are stimulating sensory nerves on the soles of the feet. These connect to the spinal cord and may help calm the cough center at the base of the brain.

Learn More:

We offer many unique treatments for coughs, colds and other ailments in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You can also read about other solutions for grandkids’ coughs in our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu.

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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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