People's Pharmacy

For more up-to-date information on drugs, herbs and home remedies visit The People's Pharmacy Home Site at

Surprising Uses For Vicks Vaporub

Posting Date: 07/08/2002

Some of the most fascinating medical discoveries happen by accident. Aspirin was originally a pain reliever, plain and simple. But a chance discovery by a family physician in Glendale, California, suggested that it could also prevent heart attacks.

When Aspergum was first introduced in the 1940s, Dr. Lawrence Craven prescribed it for tonsillectomy patients. A few of them suffered post-operative bleeding. Instead of giving up on aspirin, he realized that it could ?thin? the blood and started prescribing it for middle-aged men to prevent blood clots in the coronary arteries. Now millions of people take this pain reliever to prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Viagra and Rogaine were also discovered by chance. Both were developed for serious circulatory problems, but their side effects became more significant than the original purpose.

We keep hearing about unconventional uses for Vicks VapoRub. This smelly old salve in its familiar blue bottle has been smeared on chests to relieve congestion for generations.

People have also found it useful for headaches, sore joints, toenail fungus, paper cuts and splinters. But a number of people have used Vicks on critters. We recently received this letter: ?A neighbor girl about three years old came to pick cherries. She had a deer tick behind her ear, swollen and red. I put Vicks VapoRub on it and in a few minutes the tick had let go. My husband had a tick on his leg, and I had one on my ear. With Vicks, both were easy to remove, and the bites never itched or turned red.?

Some people use Vicks on horses: ?When I was a teenager, my friends and I often gathered across the street to watch our elderly neighbor groom his horse. When he came across a worn place?like a saddle sore?he would rub it with Vicks.?

We?ve also heard that Vicks VapoRub is useful under the nostrils of a young stallion training to be a racehorse. The scent interferes with that of the fillies across the field and keeps him focused on the track instead.