Home with Sick Kiddos? An Easy DIY Project

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There are many things going around these days, and Nicholas seems to have caught one of them. He has a sore throat, fever, and a cough. His nose has been runny, and one would think I might be reaching for the Vicks to treat the symptoms so he could get a good night's sleep. Wrong! Have you seen what is in this age old "remedy"? Crude oil and turpentine...I kid you not.


This wasn't meant to turn into this week's DIY project combined with a What's In It Wednesday, but I think it may have. Today, we'll look at what is in popular Vicks products and then I'll show you how to make an easy alternative.

Photo from Wegmans.com



Here is the full ingredients listing, for example, from a package of Vick's VapoRub:


Active Ingredients: Camphor (4.8%), Eucalyptus Oil (1.2%), Menthol (2.6%). Inactive Ingredients: Cedarleaf Oil, Nutmeg Oil, Special Petrolatum, Thymol, Turpentine Oil.


And the listing from the newer, greasless cream:


Active Ingredients: Camphor (5.2%), Eucalyptus Oil (1.2%), Menthol (2.8%). Inactive Ingredients: Carbomer 954, Cedarleaf Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Cyclomethicone Copolyol, Dimethicone Copolyol, Dimethicone, EDTA, Glycerin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Isopropyl Palmitate, Methylparaben, Nutmeg Oil, PEG-100 Stearate, Propylparaben, Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Thymol, Titanium Dioxide, Turpentine Oil



Let's see....we have Turpentine and parabens in something rubbed into our children. There are PEG ingredients as well in the second. The original contains "special" petrolatum. Special crude oil? . What exactly is that? A high octane version, perhaps. The most troubling ingredient, though, is that camphor is still used in these products when it is known to be toxic in children.

In fact, Nancy Clark, the Assistant Commissioner of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Bureau of Environmental Disease Prevention Program says, "Camphor products can be very dangerous for children...Be sure to keep these products away from them. Swallowing camphor or applying it in large amounts to a child can cause seizures."

A study at Wake Forest University also concluded that Vicks Vaporub can be harmful to the airways of children.

Vicks clearly in unsafe to apply on our children. You can make your own 100% natural products to use instead of Vicks with just a handful of ingredients you may already have at home.

*1/2 cup of rice bran, safflower, grapeseed, or sesame oil (if you do not have these, even canola will do)

*5 drops rosemary essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")

*5 drops of peppermint essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")

*5 drop of lemon essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")

*10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")


Combine in a bottle. I prefer to use a dark glass for storage, such as amber or cobalt. Anything will do, though, in a pinch. Note that I am using smaller amount of essential oils than one normally would--that is because children should not have the full amount, even when rubbed topically like this--of essential oils. Remember, this is topical and should not be taken orally.

This will not have that Vaseline-type consistency of Vicks. That is OK! The carrier oil (the rice bran, grapeseed, etc.) will act as that great base to hold the essential oils and deliver the benefits of aromatherapy.

Take a small amount and apply first to your feet and cover with socks. Then apply a bit (less than a dime sized amount) and apply to chest area and cover back up with a top.

This works very well. Why?

The lemon works in aromatherapy to treat sore throats. The rosemary helps with sinus issues, bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory symptoms. Peppermint is used to help with treating coughs, especially those of a dry and hacking nature. The eucalyptus works to loosen phlegm and mucus.


I am also working on a longer feature of several things you can do with essential oils and aromatherapy this cold and flu season to help your symptoms.

As always, seek medical advice for any symptoms or illness.
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