Vicks VapoRub is a name that is virtually synonymous with “home remedy.” This medicinal salve contains a combination of fragrant herbal extracts, including menthol, eucalyptus oil and camphor. Although formally promoted only as a cough suppressant and pain reliever, dozens of home remedies utilize Vicks VapoRub as a catch-all component of modern folk medicine. My own grandmother swears that Vicks VapoRub can treat everything from toenail fungus to hemorrhoids.
I first heard about Vicks VapoRub’s use as a fever reducer from a friend, who had learned about it from her own family members. Like most home remedies, it was recommended based in tradition but not a doctor’s recommendation.
My two-year-old had spiked a high fever one night while we were visiting from out-of-state. Our friend suggested that I smear Vicks VapoRub on my toddler’s feet to quickly reduce the fever. Desperate for a solution and with no children’s Tylenol on hand, I decided to try it.
Much to my relief, my daughter’s fever dropped from nearly 103 degrees down to 99.5– without the use of any over-the-counter fever-reducer such as acetominophen or ibuprofen. Every time that it began to spike again, I would re-apply Vicks VapoRub to her feet and the fever would abate.
Despite this level of success, I was still skeptical that Vicks VapoRub was actually an effective fever reducer. Other factors, including the natural course of the illness and changes in room temperature, could have affected my daughter’s fever.
Additionally, no studies have evaluated Vicks VapoRub as a treatment for fever, and the the company has not sought FDA approval to qualify the product as a fever reducer. If the company firmly believed that the product was effective, they probably would have sought approval to promote the product for that purpose.
Is it Plausible?
Eucalyptus oil and menthol, two ingredients in Vicks VapoRub, have both been used traditionally as fever reducers. Both herbal products produce a chilling sensation when they contact human skin, and this can, at the very least, provide temporary comfort to someone with a fever. However, few studies have evaluated their effectiveness compared to placebo.
Given the fever-reducing effects traditionally attributed to menthol and eucalyptus, as well as my own experiences, I find it plausible that Vicks VapoRub is an effective fever reducer, but I’m not 100% convinced. Nevertheless, I would recommend this quick home remedy to anyone coping with an unrelenting fever. Like many home remedies, it might help– and it probably can’t hurt.
Is it Safe?
Before you use Vicks VapoRub as a fever reducer, consider a few factors regarding the product’s safety. Vicks VapoRub can trigger severe breathing problems in children under two years of age, so you should not use it on a baby or young toddler. People with certain medical conditions should also avoid Vicks VapoRub.
If you (or your child) as a high fever that does not go down with treatment, consult your health care provider promptly. During a serious illness, it is best to use home remedies as an adjunct to proven treatments, instead of using the folk medicine alone.
Click here for more inforrmation about the safety of Vicks VapoRub.