Several months ago my family was fighting its way through what was either a horrendous fall allergy season or a particularly recalcitrant cold that lasted almost 4 weeks. We were all suffering from head and chest congestion, runny noses, sore throats due to sinus drainage, and some mild ear aches as well. Of course we were taking OTC antihistamines and decongestants as well as using our Neti pots and steam treatment.
But in addition to all that, I was using an age-old treatment that my mother used on me when I was a kid. I was applying vapor rub (you know the one, it comes in the blue jar) to everyone’s chest and neck at night and wrapping them with a piece of flannel. This aided in the absorption of the essential oils directly into the chest as well as trapped the “vapors” around the neck and chest to extend the length of time the oils were available for inhalation. I also found that a tiny bit of vapor rub applied just outside the ear canal with a fingertip is extremely helpful for congested/achy ears. This makes since because the essential oils are basically diffused into the Eustachian tubes from the ears and meet up with the nasal passages (nasopharynx) as well as the mouth and throat (oropharynx and laryngopharynx) and eventually the lungs. Applying a bit of vapor rub beneath each nostril will work in the same manner. If you choose to use an essential oil or essential oil blend instead of my “vapor rub” please make sure to dilute it first (no greater than 2-5%).
With my “recent” foray into the world of essential oils and trying to use as many natural products as possible, I began to wonder about our extensive use of this petroleum based product. All the other ingredients are natural and therapeutic and I wondered if I could simply replace the petroleum base with something more natural like coconut oil. It would have the added benefit of being absorbed into the skin better and not leaving that greasy residue on your skin the morning after use.
Upon reading the ingredient list on my jar of vapor rub I found it contained (within a petroleum base):
- Menthol (2.6%) -an organic crystalline compound obtained from peppermint or other mint oils. So I could use menthol crystals or peppermint oil.
- Camphor (4.8%) -from the wood of the camphor laurel evergreen tree (Cinnamomum camphora). So I could use the waxy, flammable, white, solid or the essential oil.
- Eucalyptus (1.2%) –essential oil, steam-distilled from the leaves of a blue gum tree (Eucalyptus globulus).
After performing some calculations and adding some oregano oil for it’s antibacterial, immune boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties, I came up with this formula:
Mary Anne’s Vapor Rub
Camphor (solid) 1gm
Camphor oil 16 drops
Eucalyptus 10 drops
Oregano oil 5 drops
Coconut oil (solid) 30gm
Vitamin E oil 10 drops
Weigh out the menthol and camphor granules and mix in a glass mortar and pestle until they form a liquid. Add camphor, eucalyptus, oregano, and Vitamin E oils to this mixture. Weigh out beeswax and melt in Pyrex container in microwave. Weigh coconut oil and add to melted beeswax; stir. Mix in essential oil mixture. Allow it to cool, stirring a few times during the process. Once completely cool and “set up”, transfer to a storage container.