Vicks VapoRub is a menthol-based lotion manufactured by Procter & Gamble, an American household and personal care manufacturer.
Originally developed by North Carolina pharmacist Lunsford Richardson to treat his son’s cyanosis, the mucilage has been used for more than 125 years.
People continue to invent uses for it, some of which are backed up by hard science and some of which are (yet) unexplored.
What is Vicks VapoRub?
Procter & Gamble lists the following active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub.
camphor (4.7 percent)
menthol (2.6 percent)
eucalyptus oil (1.2 percent)
It also contains several inactive ingredients that may be responsible for its popular use:
cedar leaf oil
oil of turpentine
The salve has a strong menthol scent and a jelly-like texture.
Doctors, researchers and product manufacturers have recommended Vicks VapoRub for:
Vicks VapoRub is not a decongestant. But strong menthol and camphor vapors create a cooling sensation in the nasal passages, activating receptors in the brain and making you feel more open breathing.
Findings from a 2017 study of how adult cold patients slept showed that using VapoRub improved subjective sleep quality.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol as cough suppressants.
Caution: Vicks VapoRub is not recommended if your cough produces a lot of phlegm or if you have a chronic condition such as asthma or emphysema.
The manufacturer recommends following these steps to increase the effectiveness of cold symptoms.
Apply a layer of Vicks VapoRub only to your chest and neck. Do not use it near your mouth or nostrils.
While standing or standing, place a warm, dry cloth over your head.
Remove all clothing around the chest and throat, and the steam will escape through the nose.
Repeat up to three times within 24 hours if necessary.