If you get hit with a cold, you might be tempted to use vapor rub to help you decongest and calm your coughs. Before you do though, consider that conventional vapor rub contains petroleum jelly (or petrolatum) and turpentine oil, both of which are toxic. Petroleum jelly can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, which are linked to breast cancer. It can also suffocate the skin by absorbing the chemicals in a product directly into the bloodstream decreasing oxygen absorbed through the skin. Meanwhile, turpentine oil is an irritant on eyes, skin, and lungs. Furthermore, the essential oils that are used in conventional vapor rub, eucalyptus and camphor, can overstimulate the central nervous system of children, leading to convulsions or seizures.
For these reasons, I make my own natural vapor rub with coconut oil and beeswax, and gentler essential oils. The recipe is easy to follow and works just as well (if not better) as store-bought vapor rub. I’ve also included options that are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. So try it out and get a good night’s sleep tonight!
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tablespoon beeswax
- 8 drops lemon, pine, myrtle or cedarwood essential oil – all are antiseptic and decongestants. Note if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, stick with lemon or pine (only Pinus sylvestris).
- 4 drops lavender essential oil – decongestant, antiseptic, and helps with sleep
- Mix beeswax and coconut oil in a double boiler or glass bowl over a small saucepan with an inch of water. Bring water to a boil and melt the ingredients.
- Remove from heat and add the essential oils.
- Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar and let it cool. Cover it with a tight-fitting lid once it reaches room temperature.
- Rub it on your chest, back, and/or feet. The safest and most effective method is rubbing it on your feet and then putting socks on to cover them.