Vicks VapoRub Causes Respiratory Problems. Use This Instead!

Vicks VapoRub is a popular topical ointment used to relieve congestion and coughs associated with colds and flu.  However, according to a doctor who has been doing studies on the product, Vicks Vapor Rub contains ingredients that ”can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway.” Research published in the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), found that it can  interfere with the ability of infants and toddlers to breathe. (1) (2)

“The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway,” Dr. Rubin, the study’s lead author, said in a statement to the media. “Infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely.” Petrolatum, one of the ingredients in Vick’s, is also linked to cancer.

“Among the studies linking the petrolatum impurity PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] to breast cancer is a Columbia University study in which researchers found that the breast tissue of women with breast cancer was 2.6 times more likely to contain elevated levels of PAHs bound to DNA (called DNA adducts) than the breast tissue of women without breast cancer (Rundle et al. 2000). Serious questions need to be answered over the safety of petrolatum or petroleum jelly as it is more commonly known.” (3)

Additionally, there is currently no scientific evidence to prove that Vicks helps with anything.   To protect your family from dangerous side effects, you can make this homemade chest rub. It includes eucalyptus essential oil.  Eucalyptus contains several compounds with antispasmodic, anti-harmful organism, expectorant, and decongestant properties. One of the main compounds is called cineole. Cineole is  an expectorant, can ease a cough, and fight upper respiratory problems.  Less than two tablespoons of camphor can result in extreme neurological effects, and may even risk death.  Please keep in mind that Eucalyptus is not recommend for kids under 10 and peppermint is not recommended for kids under 6.

Vicks VapoRub Causes Severe Respiratory Problems. Use This Instead!

Homemade Chest Rub

1 tablespoon spoonful extra virgin coconut oil
2 drops lemon essential oil
3 drops eucalyptus essential oil (where to find) alternately for kids under 10 years of age use melaleuca oil.

Mix all ingredients together  and rub into your chest and upper back.

Article originally posted on republished with permission.


(1) Reinberg S. Vicks VapoRub Linked to Infant Breathing Problems. Washington Post, Tuesday, January 13, 2009.

(2) Abanses JC, Arima S, Rubin BK. Vicks VapoRub Induces Mucin Secretion, Decreases Ciliary Beat Frequency, and Increases Tracheal Mucus Transport in the Ferret Trachea. Chest 2009; 135(1):143-148.

(3) Rundle A, Tang D, Hibshoosh H, Estabrook A, Schnabel F, Cao W, Grumet S, Perera FP. The relationship between genetic damage from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in breast tissue and breast cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2000 Jul;21(7):1281-9.

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