Disclosure: I am a journalist — not a medical professional. For medical advice, ask your physician.
A couple months ago, I read about a simple home remedy for coughs. At bedtime, massage eucalyptus oil onto the foot soles of whoever is suffering with a cough. The cough will disappear.
What was this kind of magical foot elixir? Could eucalyptus oil really be that effective?
Then seasonal allergies and colds hit my family. Even though I was coughing for weeks, I didn’t remember the eucalyptus oil treatment. When my daughter started three weeks of coughing, I only thought to use honey as a cough suppressant and a vaporizer while she slept.
But this past weekend, my son started coughing. He looked and sounded miserable. I didn’t want him to have to suffer for weeks and the honey remedy just wasn’t cutting it. I made a special trip to a natural foods store to get some safe and natural cough syrup. I ended up with Hyland’s Cough Syrup 4 Kids, and it was amazingly effective in calming his cough.
As a quick explanation, children ages 4 and younger never, never, never should take cough suppressants like dextromethorphan or DM; cough expectorants like guaifenesin; decongestants like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine; and antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine, and diphenhydramine. Because of this medical danger, I’m leery of giving my children any kind of over-the-counter (or prescription) medicine unless I know it is absolutely necessary. Over the past four years, I’ve started to try natural remedies first. Even though there has been a lot of trial and error, I am completely pleased with the effective remedies I’ve found.
While I was picking out the natural cough syrup, I suddenly remembered the eucalyptus oil remedy. Once I found the essential oil shelves, I chose a bottle of eucalyptus oil. It’s very important to read the fine print while shopping and choose the Eucalyptus Smithii variety — it’s safe for children. Other varieties of eucalyptus (and there are many) can be quite harmful.
When my son was ready for bed, I turned into Dr. Mommy and poured a tiny bit of olive oil into my palm, followed by several dashes of eucalyptus oil.
Note: To avoid skin irritation from an undiluted essential oil, it’s important to dilute the essential oil with a cold-pressed carrier oil like olive oil. Once the two oils are combined, it’s safe to massage them onto skin. It’s also important to not let children ingest eucalyptus oil.
While massaging the eucalyptus/olive oil mixture onto my son’s soles, I was reminded of my childhood sicknesses when my mom would massage Vicks Vapor Rub onto my chest.
After the fragrant massage, I covered his feet with socks. My little boy fell asleep silently – not coughing like he had for the past few nights. He did wake up coughing in the morning, and even though I was disappointed I tried it again at nap time. Suddenly, his coughing was gone.
I used it for the second night in a row, just to see what would happen.
His coughing has completely stopped.
I don’t know how it works, and I know there’s no scientific confirmation, but I know the eucalyptus oil did cure my son’s cough. (He was sick. He typically stays sick for a couple weeks. He’s completely fine now.)
As I shared with my children, many times God’s medicine – natural things like oil from a eucalyptus tree – works better and faster than man’s medicine. I’m not particularly looking forward to our next round of colds and coughs, but when it hits I know what I will try right away.
What effective home remedies for coughs and colds have you used?