What do you do when you are experiencing congestion or have a stuffy throat? You rub Vicks VapoRub all over your chest and under your nose.

But studies are now showing that this may not be such a good idea.

The Problem with VapoRub


Although it’s widely praised for its abilities to soothe sore muscles and relieve congestion, Vicks VapoRub has been found to do much more harm than good.

Studies have shown the use of the rub to cause respiratory problems in users, especially in young children. One study showed that the rub causes “an increase of mucus that could obstruct the user’s air passages” (David Wolfe).

How can an ointment that’s supposed to relieve congestion end up blocking our passageways?

Behind the Label

Like many commercial products that are designed to improve our bodies in some way, shape or form (including moisturizers and conditioners), Vicks VapoRub contains ingredients that have proven to be detrimental to one’s health.

Let’s open the lid and take a closer look inside…


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Petroleum is the main ingredient used in Vicks VapoRub. It’s also found many other everyday products, such as Vaseline, lipstick, sunscreens and body lotions.

Despite its popularity, petroleum remains a carcinogen. The results of a study conducted at Columbia University showed that contaminants found in petroleum increased women’s chances of developing breast cancer.

What’s more, petroleum is classified as an “occlusive” agent. Occlusive agents act as barriers and keep things from entering your skin, including water and air. In other words, petroleum-based products block your pores and prevent your skin from being able to breathe. This can lead to blackheads and pimples.


Camphor is another major ingredient in VapoRub. Camphor is often used to help fight colds by relieving coughs and unclogging stuffy noses. The downside: it’s toxic.

According to Everyday Health, “Eating or drinking as little as five milliliters of camphor oil can kill a child.”


Menthol is disguised as a beneficial ingredient but all it really does is deceive.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Vicks VapoRub doesn’t relieve nasal congestion. But the strong menthol odor of VapoRub tricks your brain, so you feel like you’re breathing through an unclogged nose.”

In addition, menthol-based creams can have the following side effects:

So, it turns out that Vicks VapoRub is actually really bad for you. Luckily, you can easily make your own version of this rub using all natural ingredients that won’t clog your airways or subject you to a cancer risk.

Homemade VapoRub

This recipe is inspired by David Wolfe. You can find the original recipe here.



  1. Place all ingredients in a glass jar, such as a mason jar, and mix them together.
  2. Label the jar, so you don’t forget what’s inside.
  3. Apply the rub on your chest or wherever you experience soreness.

Uses For Homemade Rub

This homemade rub can also be used for the following:

  • Decongest chest and throat area
  • Relieve headaches by rubbing a little bit on your forehead
  • Repel mosquitoes – lemon and eucalyptus essential oils are effective in warding off mosquitoes

Here are two more recipes for homemade lotions – Body Butter and Sunblock.

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The Hearty Soul
Health Network
We believe in using natural ingredients to be as healthy as possible. We believe dieting will never work as well as a lifestyle of healthy habits will. We believe you can treat pain and disease without relying on addictive drugs. We believe being happy is a big part of a healthy life.