Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Get Rid of a Cough... Feet First! A True Pedi "Cure" :)

Many of you know that I've been on a quest to conquer my unfortunate tendency to get a cold and then cough horrifically for two months afterwards.  This has been one of the most serious plagues of my adult life and I'm determined to find a cure before I seriously give myself a hernia -- I cough really hard.  Many close to me will swear they've heard me cough up a lung, multiple times.  I'm not a smoker or anything -- I just have a really serious tendency toward bronchitis for some reason.

Last October when I got a cold, I decided to test recent research that held that theobromine (a substance found in dark chocolate) was a better cough suppressant than any prescription medicine -- 30% better even than codeine!  I decided I was going to enjoy this experiment and believe me, never has any scientific questioner more wanted a hypothesis to be true.  But, alas.... no.  How sad is that?  Wouldn't life have been just that much more bearable if such a thing actually worked?  After two weeks of eating dark chocolate, I actually did nearly give myself a hernia.  I coughed so hard one night, I was in a panic at the extreme pain in my lower abdominal area.  I survived, but it put the fear o'God in me and I swore I would not let my cough get so bad again.

Two days before the massive storm hit last week, trapping us in the house with no power for several days, I got another cold.  Two a year is about par for the course for me -- really not bad considering all the coughing, sneezing, drippy nose students I spend my days with.  But, everyone thinks I'm sick "all the time" because my coughs linger and linger and linger and linger.... well, you get the point.

Stuck in the house though, I didn't have a lot of options.  But before the power went out, I spent a sleepless, snotty night scouring the internet for wacky cough cures and came across reports of the miraculous cough crushing potential of Vicks Vapor Rub ---- if.... wait for it.... it's rubbed on your feet.  Bizarre?  Yes, but I was desperate and decided to try it.

My Dad is a big advocate of good 'ol Vicks and when I was a child, he always urged me to rub it on my chest for coughs and congestion.  I never thought it did much good, but it definitely made me smell weird.  Wasn't a fan of that.  Never though, had he suggested I rub it on my feet.

All week though, I've dutifully rubbed globs of it on my feet, covered them with socks and walked around stinking of methol.... but NOT coughing.  Sometimes I'd forget and go too long without renewing my little pedi - "cure" and I'd start coughing.  I'd rub the goop back on and stop coughing.  Last night, I tried some cough syrup with codeine I had leftover from a prescription last October.  I coughed my head off until 2am and then boinked myself on said head, remembering I'd forgotten my Vicks Foot Rub.  I nearly ran downstairs to my almost empty bottle, smeared the goo on my feet, threw the socks back on and slept like a baby for the rest of the night.

Now, I realize some of you may still be doubters -- thinking to yourself that somehow it was the power of suggestion or something, but rest assured there's not a placebo on the planet that could touch my miserable hacking cough once I get going.  I will continue to test the efficacy of this particular cure, but so far -- I'm a believer and I plan to invest many a pretty penny in boatloads of this stuff to make sure I always have it on hand.

So, if you see me next week and I reek of mentholatum -- you'll know why :)


  1. I have heard this too and have been trying it with my seems to work! But I'm curious, do you rub it on the top of your feet or the bottom...or both? I had thought it was the soles of the feet, and so that's where I've been putting it. So far, so good...just wondering if I am correct?

  2. Hi Amanda -- I've been rubbing it on the bottoms of my feet. I really hadn't thought to put it on the tops or I probably would've done that too :)

  3. From what I've been reading -- the bottoms of our feet apparently absorb fairly fast -- maybe that allows the camphor to get into our systems faster than when we just rub it on our chest. I've no idea, but I'm SOOOOOOOO happy it's working :)

  4. I was told recently that hot chocolate was good for coughs. But I guess it's not true? Never tried the vapor rub but I'll have to keep that in mind next time. I wonder if it's safe for kids? I'll have to ask the pharmacist. It sounds kind of like what eastern medicine does...they do some massage of the feet for headaches, sinus problems, etc. Apparently, there's all connected but don't quote me on it.

    What about honey? I heard that it's great for coughs. My mother used to scramble eggs with sesame oil and that always soothed my throat.

    Glad you are feeling better!

  5. Actually Joyful Learner -- I'll bet hot chocolate IS good for coughs. Just because the chocolate cure didn't help me, there's a lot of research backing it up. The combination of hot liquid + chocolate is probably quite soothing to a cough.

    From what I understand the Vicks foot application is safe and works quite well for kids, though of course ask a pharmacist/doctor. I tried it on my 9yo and it worked well on her cough too. I've read accounts of some people who didn't find it helped at all, but I think with coughs you just have to keep trying things until you find one that works for YOU.

    I do like honey, but find it only calms my cough, while I'm drinking it in tea. I don't, unfortunately, get a lasting effect from it. Still, I'll be happy drinking honey'd tea with my Vicks'd feet all wrapped in socks and under a blankie tomorrow :)